The Boy from Shekki

Stanley Hunt

In many ways the Stanley Hunt story told in his From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography (2010) is a typical Australian one. Born in a south China village to a family with strong links to Australia and schooled in Shekki (see No.85). Stanley comes to Australia young and establishes his life here while keeping ties with his home village. (See No.30) The most remarkable thing about this typical Australian story – as typical as one originating in a British or Italian village – is that it is not generally recognised as typical. 

Stanley Hunt can be seen as a bridge between the sojourner and the permanent resident that is such a strong feature of Chinese Australia history. (See No.35 and No.21) For generations fathers and grandfathers worked in Australia while maintaining families in China. This Chinese-Australian heritage included Stanley himself. Arriving young, Stanley largely grew up in Australia while working in the vegetable business most of his life, a typical “Chinese” occupation (see No.77). However, as a store owner and employer of often non-Chinese staff he was not obviously part of a stereotype of Chinese Australians many still hold. Later in life Stanley was also prominent in Chinese Australian organisations and in donating educational resources to his family village in southern China. (See No.55)

Stanley Hunt’s excellent From Shekki to Sydney is one of only a small collection of near contemporary sources for a generation that stretches from the mid-twentieth century war period until the beginning of the 21st century. This is a very under researched period of Chinese Australian history. Others include Francis Lee, Out of bounds: journey of a migrant, Andrew Kwok, One Bright Moon, and the excellent oral history collection Mavis Gock Yen, South Flows the Pearl. Together these are invaluable source materials that greatly enrich our understanding of Australian history; sources that hopefully will be added to before memories pass beyond our reach.

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