Chinese enjoyed rich fruits of their labour
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.