Sunday, July 10, 2016


Forday !   The   prosperous  looking  man  standing  in  the   damaged cabinet   photograph , above ,  reproduced  in  a  Cooktown and District  Historical Society   slim  volume  about  the  Chinese involvement  in  the  Palmer River  gold rush, is  identified as  Willie  Forday , who  owned  a  store  in  Rockhampton , a paternal  first cousin  of  the  girls in this family group headed by  Chen  Ki  Chong .
 By  Peter  Simon
Research showed that  Forday, born in Canton , had  left Cooktown  for China aboard Changsha  on August 12 , l915   and   returned to Townsville  in March 1918 ; on arrival back in Australia  he  had  been exempted from the dictation test under  the  Immigration  Restriction  Act  1901-1908, the White Australia Policy .

The  Forday name  brought back   fond  memories for  me  in  Darwin  of  Chinese - Australian , Timmy Forday ,  whose  father ,  just 11 , came out  from China in 1888 to  work for  an  uncle  who  ran  a  store  for  miners  in  Cooktown.

His  name  was  Lee  For  Dai , but  somehow the shipping authorities gave him the  surname    Forday  during   the  voyage to  Australia . Timmy's  mother , his father's  second  wife,  Kim  Sing  Fong , was  born  in  Darwin .

I  met  jovial , chain smoking   Timmy  Forday  in  1958 when he was  a linotype operator at  the Northern Territory News and over the years shared  many  pleasant  times and memories  with  him . At his funeral in  Darwin I told how he  had   complained  at the   NT News  about   copy  he was given to punch out  in metal on the linotype as it had so many alterations and  subbing marks  it   looked  like, in his words,  a bloody  Chinese - pak- ah- poo ticket, a colourful  remark which upset  the sub editor, Keith Willey 
He is  shown here  with his wife, Dawn , from  Townsville. Timmy  had  a varied  career  in the  newspaper and  printing industry. Starting as  a  linotype operator/ compositor at  the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin , he worked in Cairns, Innisfail ,  Townsville , Mackay , Sydney  and  Brisbane .

 For a time he produced  the    Chinese  Chimes , run off on a gestetner , the front page of which  was  a  stencil  designed  by Brisbane  herbalist  Willy Sou San  that usually included a  dragon and  Chinese  symbols . Young Australian-Chinese  across  the  nation  received  the  publication .

A 1952  Chinese New Year  edition of  Chinese Chimes, the name probably a play on  The Times, London . 
An adventurous person, Timmy went to  New Guinea and  worked  on the South Pacific Post . With  gusto and chuckles , he often told  how he  decided to  move back  to  Australia  when  the Papuans  told  him they  would " eat " him  when they  gained self  rule . Not  wanting  to  become a  Chinese take away, he  headed   for  Darwin .

In Darwin he was doing his washing at the back of  the  NT News   one night when a large  python slid through the  window  and Timmy took  to  his heels, a workmate  chased the snake  about the building  with  a  speargun .  Timmy's mates  in the boisterous  News  factory  often  yelled  out there was a python on the premises  which    felt   Chinamen   were   very   tasty .

 An enterprising couple , Timmy and his wife  had  several business ventures , one being a toy shop  at Parap trading as   Tim the Toy Man  with the  Humphrey B. Bear of TV fame  franchise . When the  star bear  visited  Darwin  for Timmy the Toyman   police  had  to  control  the  crowd. Timmy opened  a video business and   set  up a  centre for  the many reporters  covering  the   Azaria  Chamberlain  case .