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Current Site of the Chinese Temple

The first Temple on this site was built in 1887, the date on the original ceremonial bell. It was damaged by cyclones in 1897 and 1937 and partly damaged during bombing raids and looted by Australian soldiers during World War II. The stone lions, handcrafted in China, originally belonged to the Brocks Creek Temple, near Pine Creek. After the Brocks Creek Temple was destroyed by Australian soldiers, the lions were re-located to Darwin.

In 1974, the Woods Street Temple was completely destroyed by Cyclone Tracy and our present Temple was re-opened on the original site in 1977.

The religion practiced at the Temple is a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. A translation of the Chinese symbols over the Temple entrance is: ” The Power of Almighty God reaches far and near.”

In the grounds of the Temple is the sacred Bodhi tree, believed to be a direct descendant of the tree under which Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment.

People worship daily at our Temple and we ask that you demonstrate the same respect for our Temple and its Worshippers that you would in any other place of worship by talking quietly and not taking photos while people are worshipping.

Temple Opening Hours: Open every day from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

History of the Chinese Temple in Darwin

The present Temple site dates from about 1887, the date on the original ceremonial bell. Prior to that, the Temple was located on the site of the present Christ Church Cathedral. Court House officials objected to the noise made by the bell, drum and exploding firecrackers so it was moved to its present site.

The original building was of round bush timber and galvanized iron. It was slightly damaged by the cyclones in 1897 and 1937 and partly damaged by near misses during the bombing raid of 1942.

There was extensive looting of the Temple by soldiers during World War II – statues were found scattered around Darwin. At one stage, an attempt was made to burn the Temple but when the flames reached the main beam, the fire mysteriously went out; believed by Chinese elders to be due to heavenly intervention. The Temple was restored and eventually re-opened in 1959.

In 1974, Cyclone Tracy destroyed the Temple. Local architect Peter Dermoudy generously gave his time and expertise to draw up plans for the new Temple using old floor diagrams and photographs. When the plans were complete, heavenly advice was sought and approval given to proceed. The site was surveyed by members Mr Kevin Chin and Mr Peter Moy to preserve the Foong Shui (wind/water) Chinese fortune. It is believed that correct siting means prosperity and happiness for the people, and much care must be taken. Consequently, the new Temple was built on the same site facing the same direction. This siting was selected in 1887 by neomancers who considered the location in relation to sky, water, land.

Source: Reverend Shui Kwong Lo and Mr William Wong

Act of God

Under the customs of the Chinese it is not permitted to rebuild a Temple unless it has been destroyed by an Act of God. Consequently, following the War (when much of the interior and contents of the Temple were vandalised or stolen, but the Temple building remained) an elder went to Hong Kong to acquire new furnishings which were installed in the old building. The Temple re-opened in 1959.

There was only one significant difference. The old Temple had doors but in the reconstruction an extra set of steel grille doors was installed outside the front door, mainly to keep unauthorised people away from the temple interior proper. On the evening of the formal opening, the doors were securely locked at nightfall.

At midnight the drum began to sound and the bell to ring. A nightwatchman and other nearby Chinese residents thought it might have been Mr Wong practicing but nevertheless decided to investigate, and as they neared the Temple the sound continued. They found the doors securely locked, the Temple in darkness and Mr Wong not there. Mr Tang, and elder, was woken. He hurried to the temple, opened the door and turned on the lights. The Temple was empty and there was no possible way in which anyone could have slipped in and out again.

In these circumstances heavenly intervention was indicated so God was consulted. The message which came back was, ‘The Temple is like a budding flower but would never flourish with a cover over it’. It was concluded that the new doors were offending and this was confirmed in a subsequent message. Next day the elders had these steel grille doors removed.

Source: Reverend Shui Kwong Lo and Mr William Wong

Wing Bor Ping On

The furnishings of the Temple consist of a main and two side altars, each laid with embroidery in which dragons are prominent, ceremonial bell and drum, pennants and banners. There are two oblong shaped openings in the roof, known as heavenly wells. It is believed that when God visits the Temple he comes through those openings and not through the door.

On the central altar are five statues, the central figure representing Almighty God, whom the Chinese believe to be the same God for everybody, Chinese or otherwise. This central statue wears a head-dress with pearls suspended in front, symbolising his status, not unlike the crown worn by a monarch. The wooden plaque represents four Saints, great healers and master craftsmen. To the right is the altar of Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy whilst on the left is the Saint of Fortune and Prosperity.

On the front altar are two dragons with a plaque in between with the inscription “Wing Bor Ping On’, meaning ‘Everlasting Heavenly blessing and protection’.

Source: Reverend Shui Kwong Lo and Mr William Wong

Brass-headed staffs

The brass-headed staffs on either side of the main body of the Temple represent the eight treasures of eight angels whilst the angels themselves are depicted on the embroidered scrolls above the altar. The wall banners are for the temple and each saint. These are taken out and flown on festival and saints’ day. The small chapel to the side of the main building is a memorial where plaques for ceased persons are placed.

Source: Reverend Shui Kwong Lo and Mr William Wong