The Hap Wah plantation (1878-1886) was the spark that ignited the Cairns region’s sugar industry. In 1882 the Hap Wah Company’s Pioneer Mill crushed and manufactured the first cane sugar, and exported 110 tons valued at £3060. This Chinese venture, Australia’s most unique sugar producer, was financed by Hong Kong and local investors. Andrew Leon was the selector, manager and spokesman for the 1,250 acre plantation which today is covered by the suburbs of Earlville and Woree.
A plaque honouring the Hap Wah enterprise was installed on the site of the former plantation in Stockland Cairns shopping centre in January 2013. A gala celebration accompanied the unveiling, rivaling that of the first crushing 131 years earlier. Partners in the plaque project were Cairns and District Chinese Association, Cairns Historical Society, Cairns Regional Council, Chinese Heritage in Northern Australia, Julia Volkmar and Stockland Cairns. Below:
Ken Wong, CADCAI President, Natalie Myatt, Regional Retail Manager, Queensland,. Andrew Provan, Manager, Stockland Cairns and Cairns Mayor Bob Manning at the unvieling. ( Photo: CADCAI)
Above: Project Partners, Kevin Wong Hoy (China Inc) and
Julia Volkmar, celebrate the unveiling of the Hap Wah
Commemorative Plaque at Earlville on 24 January 2013
PHOTO: Shannon Parker
HAP WAH OR HOP WAH?
Many stories have been told about this celebrated plantation and company. Which are true? Extensive research undertaken to ensure accuracy of the commemorative plaque challenges much of what is commonly reported. There are still unanswered questions and research continues.
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