Friday, May 06, 2011

Josh Quong Tart

Josh Quong Tart is a well known Australian actor. He was in the discontinued tv series All Saints and I believe he is now a cast member of the teen soapie Home and Away. Here is a photo of Josh. He is not my type at all and nor does he look Chinese to me.

However, he bears a very famous name, Quong Tart, and he is the great grandson of Mei Quong Tart who was born in China in 1850 and emigrated with his uncle to Australia a decade later.

Mei Quong Tart made considerable money by investing in gold claims and made even more by starting tea rooms in Sydney, the best known being in what is now known as the Queen Victoria Building. In the 1880s he became an acting, and I assume honorary, consular to the Chinese government.

He was philanthropist who looked after large causes and small, the small such as local paperboys. He was a spokesperson and an advocate for the Australian Chinese community. He acted as an interpreter. He campaigned against the opium trade in Australia and saw first hand the effects of opium on his fellow Chinese Australians. He was a generous and benevolent employer. More? A fine cricketer too.

He married an English Australian woman and they produced two sons and four daughters, the daughters being the first Asians to attend Presbyterian Ladies College. His home was Gallop House in Ashfield.

In 1902 he was brutally bashed with an iron bar during a robbery and never fully recovered, dying the following year.

Thousands attended his funeral at Sydney's Rokewood Cemetery. His body was dressed in ceremonial robes of a Mandarin of the Blue Button overlain with his Masonic apron.

A commemorative statue of Quong Tart was erected in Ashfield in 1998.

Although Mei Quong Tart seemed to be without fault and led an exemplary life I did find one serious wrong, he could play the bagpipes.

Here is Mei Quong Tart. Quite a debonair fellow but I can't see the family likeness to his great grandson Josh. For convenience sake, I haven't bothered sorting out the family/personal name muddle. Photo copyright Braidwood Historical Society.

Photo from City of Sydney of Quong Tart outside one of his tearooms.

Bust in Ashfield.

Date started Oct 2010.


  1. Thanks for this. I have often wondered about the actor's antecedents.

  2. FREAKY! I was only having a discussion about Josh with a friend last night. We were concerned about his huge weight loss, he's looking quite gaunt. I much preferred him with a bit of weight on.

  3. Victor, you are an aware kinda dude. Had you heard of Mei Quong Tart?

    Really Fen. So you are devotee of Home and Away? I kindly said he was not my type. I would like him even less if he lost weight.

  4. No, not at all, but this week I've been so brain dead it's been on in the background. I've seen it enough times to know who he is and that he'd lost weight.

  5. How interesting is this - we have a locksmith up here who looks Chinese. Once he said something so "Irish" it really cracked me up and i said "are you sure you don't have any Irish in you" he said "As a matter of fact my grandmother was Irish" you never can really tell with people

  6. MC, we were out for dinner tonight at an Asian restaurant. I am used to speaking clearly and slowly to Asian restaurant staff and I did tonight, and she replied in perfect vernacular Australian.

  7. Anonymous5:56 pm

    It appears the decendants genes took the western side by lookin at this family pic.

  8. Thanks for that Anon. I see what you mean.

  9. Some funny/strange comments re Josh - no real reason he should look Chinese three generations on - his great grand-father's wife being Anglo-Australian - unless each generation therefrom also married Asian(-looking) Australians. And why should someone with Asian features not speak in a broad Australian-vernacular style? Would you think it funny if I told you that the Governor-General of Canada (1999-2005) Adrienne CLARKSON (google her name) had a father born in Chiltern in Victoria - whose father was Chinese, mother was Irish-born. About 45 years I was working one summer at Leightonfield in western Sydney - a work-mate gave me a lift on his bike back into the Sydney a couple of times. He told me he was an ABC. A what? I asked: An Australian Born Chinese, he laughed. Read Ronald McKIE's "The Mango Tree" for a description of character "Jamie's" pre-war (The Great War) class-mate of Chinese background. One of my 1970 Sydney University Dip Ed mate's was born in Australia (just post-war (WWII)! The family of Chinese immigrants (end of the 19th century) children/marriage partners born in Australia in Tamworth who looked after my recently widowed mother with her two little boys. L.J. HOOKER anyone?

  10. Jim, it is all about the genes, I suppose. I would have thought some remnant of Josh's Chinese antecedents would have come through. Anyway, thanks for the information. There are many ABCs in Australia, or descendents of them, but they don't normally work for $15 an hour in restaurants. I just read a little about L J Hooker. Interesting.