Chi­nese en­joyed rich fruits of their labour

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE fea­tures in the Wed­nes­day edi­tion of the Townsville Bul­letin re­gard­ing the po­ten­tial for the western ar­eas of North Queens­land be­com­ing a food bowl for the North re­minded my fa­ther, 88- year- old James Mur­ray, of a time when it was just that.

As a boy in the ’ 30s and ’ 40s he re­mem­bers the Chi­nese gar­dens that flour­ished in many western ar­eas. One of these, close on the Flin­ders River in Rich­mond, pro­duced, among other things, grapes that were so unique in their qual­ity they quickly de­vel­oped a cel­e­brated rep­u­ta­tion and hordes of de­voted fol­low­ers.

Dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son con­sign­ments of these red del­i­ca­cies were packed and taken by rail to Townsville.

Dad says that ac­cord­ing to his fa­ther, a rail­way driver at the time, not one of these lit­tle trea­sures reached what was then called the lo­cal COD mar­kets. Be­ing so prized they were all auc­tioned off, there and then, on the plat­form, the mo­ment they were un­loaded.

Per­haps there will be a time when these fruity trea­sures will be re­dis­cov­ered by new en­ter­prises.

This is un­likely to be by dili­gent Chi­nese men and women will­ing to live on the fringes of white so­ci­ety and the hu­mil­i­a­tions as­so­ci­ated with be­ing sec­ond- class ci­ti­zens.

No, my fear is that the next time they will be pro­duced by a mas­sive agri­cul­tural un­der­tak­ing owned by a Chi­nese bil­lion­aire, us­ing cheap im­ported labour. The rare and valu­able grapes will be quickly pack­aged and flown off to restau­rants in Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore. PHILLIP NOR­MAN MUR­RAY, Cur­ra­jong.

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