Tiy Sang & Co

This building on the corner of Ultimo Rd and Thomas St was at the beginning of the 20th century a major banana importer – Tiy Sang & Co. Owned by the Wong Yee family who in the 1920s decided to transfer their capital to China and like others set up a Department store. The choice of location – Canton rather than Hong Kong or Shanghai – proved less profitable and the family returned to Australia.

This return of a Chinese Australian family brought them within the jurisdiction of the White Australia policy and its Dictation Test. However, middle class status perhaps assisted them and the family – including the mother of future Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt – were able to settle back in the land of their birth.

Wong Yee Family: “Chinese Family Prohibited from Landing” ran the headline. L-R  Mary, David, Rose, Helen (little girl), Norma (Jeff Fatt, the Purple Wiggle’s mum), Betty, Edward (Father of Barry Wong, informant).