When is a Joss House not a Joss House?

In Tasmania’s Launceston there is a Joss House in a museum that is considered to be a working temple. While in Atherton in northern Queensland there is a restored temple that is a museum. And then there is this one on Mount Panorama, Bathurst NSW that perhaps looks more like a Chinese temple than most actually built in Australia at any point during the 19th century at least.

The origins of this replica Joss House – despite its having been erected only since the 1980s – are already lost, though perhaps not irrevocably just yet. A heritage report was done at the time and this may yet reveal the inspiration for this particular ‘temple’.

What is known is that the Joss House is part of a goldfield recreation erected on the outskirts of Bathurst. Certainly it is to be commended for its efforts to include Chinese history in the goldfield history. As well as the temple there is also a Chinese camp with tents containing rice bowls and chopsticks to denote that they were occupied by Chinese miners.

The temple contains no ‘Joss’ as such, instead it does contain an authentic Chinese Masonic altar that was once part of the Bathurst Chinese Masonic Hall as well as various items that are ‘Chinese’. Overall this is an effort to represent Chinese Australian history that can and hopefully will be much improved on as its new owners get organised and more local research is done.