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The Holy Triad Temple

Place Details
Place ID 600056
Registration Type State Heritage
Place Name The Holy Triad Temple
Alternative Name Breakfast Creek Joss House
Sarm Sung Goon
Place Classification Built
Place Category Religion/Worship
Place Type Temple
Themes 1 Peopling places / 1.2 Migration from outside and within
8 Creating social and cultural institutions / 8.1 Worshipping and religious institutions
Register Entry Date 21/10/1992

Address 32 Higgs Street
Town / Suburb ALBION
Post Code 4010

Cultural Heritage Significance
Principal Period
of Significance
1885-1886 (fabric)
Criterion A The Temple of the Holy Triad is significant as evidence of the development of Chinese settlement in nineteenth century Brisbane.
Criterion B The Temple of the Holy Triad is significant as a rare example of a nineteenth century Chinese temple in Queensland.
Criterion D The Temple of the Holy Triad is significant as a rare example of a nineteenth century Chinese temple in Queensland.

History The Temple of the Holy Triad was constructed in 1885-86 for the Cantonese Chinese community of Brisbane. In the 1880s sizeable numbers of Cantonese settled in Brisbane. They were most conspicuous in small businesses (particularly in Fortitude Valley and along Albert Street), and in market gardening (especially on the flats around Breakfast Creek and Eagle Farm). By 1888 Brisbane depended almost entirely on the Chinese for its supply of fresh vegetables. Construction of the temple was an attempt by the leaders of Brisbane's five Cantonese clans to provide their people with a community focus. The elaborate triple roof was imported from China by Quong Nam Tai & Co, Brisbane's most prominent Chinese trading firm, and the building was erected by Chinese artisans. The temple was opened on 21 January 1886, and remained the focus of Chinese community activity in Brisbane for nearly sixty years. This was followed by a period of declining interest and neglect until the formation in 1965 of the Chinese Temple Society. The society undertook work on the temple and it was re-opened in June 1966. It today offers a focus for various Chinese communities. In the second half of the nineteenth century Chinese immigrants erected temples on most of the principal Queensland goldfields and ports. Only three temples survive in Queensland from this period: the Breakfast Creek temple, the small Chun Lo Goon temple at Rockhampton, which has been removed to the city's Chinese Garden; and the Hou Wang temple at Atherton. The latter is smaller than the Breakfast Creek temple and is constructed of local materials.

Description The temple is a rectangular, rendered brick structure with a complex triple roof of Chinese terracotta tiles. A feature of this roof is the elaborate ceramic ornamentation, incorporating Chinese historical and mythological characters, on the ridges and barges. The interior comprises three sections: an entrance, a sky-lit middle section, and the temple proper with its carved altar and figures of the gods of wealth, medicine and knowledge. Internal decoration is elaborate, and includes exposed carved and gilded timber supports, and furnishings such as silks, embroideries, lanterns and lamps. In the 1965-66 restoration, the middle roof section, which had been removed, was repositioned. Much of the original interior decoration, which had been either salvaged or vandalised, was replaced. The temple survives in a back street sandwiched between the Breakfast Creek Hotel, Albion Park Racecourse and light industrial development, with the former vista across Breakfast Creek lost. A plain concrete block building has been constructed adjacent to the temple, and the grounds have been concreted and enclosed with a brick fence and gateway.

Element Name The Holy Triad Temple
Design Period 1870s - 1890s Late 19th century
Construction Period 1885 - 1886
Construction Method Load-bearing brick
Fabric (Exterior Structure) Brick - rendered
Fabric (Roof) Terracotta tiles
Roof Form Gabled
Place Components Wall/s
Gate - entrance

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Last updated: 15 March 2013

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