Chinese market gardens at Arncliffe and Kyeemagh survived many threats

The Chinese market gardens at Arncliffe and Kyeemagh are regarded as heritage treasure these days, but that was not always the case.

A 1979 Leader report revealed Rockdale Council and land owner, the Planning and Environment Commission, considered turning the gardens site in Occupation Road, Kyeemagh, into a rubbish tip.

A council committee decided instead to explore the feasibility of the council acquiring the land, leasing it to the gardeners and promoting it as an historical attraction.

That proposal did not come to fruition and neither did other plans at various times for a motel complex or caravan park on at least one of the sites.

Today, the gardens, which date back to the late 1880s, enjoy the protection of being listed on the State Heritage Register.

The register says the Arncliffe gardens "are of high significance for their association with the Chinese community and their demonstration of a continuous pattern of land usage since the late nineteenth century".

"They are one of only three such surviving market gardens in the inner Sydney region and one of few similar surviving examples in the Sydney Metropolitan Region.

"The site was first occupied as market gardens in 1892 by Sung Kuong War, Lee How and Sin Hop Sing.

"Market gardens such as this played an important role in food production for the local and regional community, particularly during the Great Depression and Post and Inter-War periods.

"For much of the Great Depression, Chinese market gardens were the only source of vegetables for urban dwelling Australians."

The register says the Kyeemagh markets gardens were also constructed about 1892-83.

They were established by Chinese gardeners, but were also occupied for a time by Italian and Maltese gardeners.

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