Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 24-02-2015 Contents Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 10
Mee Sing Chinese
Peter Ching with his
daughters from left,
Sharon Ching, Helen
Ching and Mia Ching.
Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Chinese restaurant has beginnings in bingo
A game of bingo in Hong Kong could
be responsible for one of the capital's
most enduring restaurants.
Mee Sing Restaurant in Lyneham
has been operated by the Ching Family
for the past 50 years.
Helen Ching, one of Peter Ching's
three daughters, recalled how her
father made it to Canberra before
starting the restaurant in 1965.
"He escaped out of China when the
communists came in, and went to
Hong Kong,'' she said.
"Dad used to work in a perfume
section of a big department store.
"Anyway they all used to play bingo
and he won. He won like 20 pounds, or
something ridiculous, which was
probably a lot of money back then.''
Helen said her father came to
Sydney with just a suitcase and
worked in a Kings Cross Chinese
His friend said he should come to
Canberra because Canberra was the
place,'' she said.
So he came to Canberra in 1964
and met my mother.
"It was a mixed race marriage,
which back in those days was pretty
They bought the restaurant with
the help of my grandparents and we've
been there ever since."
When the Chings started doing
takeaway in the 1960s plastic
containers were an unfamiliar novelty.
Instead takeaway fare was just ladled
into the pots and pans residents
brought from home.
Three generations have worked the
restaurant and Mr Ching, now in his
70s, still holds court in the kitchen.
"Dad is still cooking 50 years on,''
"We are trying to get him to retire
but he won't.''
While some restaurants change their
menu every few months, the Mee Sing
spread has remained remarkably
consistent over five decades.
But they did offer an Australian
menu alongside the Chinese menu in
the early days.
"We had a split menu because back
in the '60s [the customers] were still
getting used to having different food in
country Canberra,'' Helen said. "We
had liver and onions and all that kind
"It was a freak out.''
Helen said the future for Mee Sing
was uncertain but uncertainty was
"It is a bit of a Canberra institution,''
"It is hard to give up that tradition.
But I think at some stage that is going
to have to happen."
Helen said for the new generation
there was more to life than working six
days a week.
"The reality is it is hard work,'' she
said. "But it is a real multicultural
story for us and we are proud of it.''
set to go
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has
outlined the ACT government's vision
to deliver urban renewal in Canberra.
An overhaul of the ACT's public
housing was one of the key pillars of
the government's urban renewal
Mr Barr said urban renewal was
vital to growing Canberra's economy
and helped strengthen the community.
Our public housing tenants deserve
to share in this renewal,'' he said.
Currently, there are a number of
multi-unit blocks that are old and tired.
They have reached the end of their
useful life. They were built quickly, to
the standards of a different time, and
bringing them up to contemporary
building or energy efficiency standards
is simply not a viable option.''
This program is being led by the
government's Public Housing
Renewal Taskforce, which was
established in September 2014 and
will replace 1288 outdated public
Meanwhile Shadow Minister for
Family and Community Services
Nicole Lawder said Canberra's public
housing situation was dire.
She said vulnerable people were
forced to wait more than two years on
the standard housing waiting list
before accommodation became
Computing leader receives national honour
Barry Smith was made an honorary
member of the Australian
Photo: Kevin Landale
One of Canberra's most forward
thinking societies has launched its
50th anniversary year at the National
Museum of Australia by recognising
one of its foundation members.
The Canberra Computer Society
formed on May 6, 1965, with a
collection of some of the most
innovative minds in the country.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, a
patron of the society, presented
foundation secretary Barry Smith with
an honorary membership.
The society became the Canberra
branch of the Australian Computer
Society on January 1, 1966, and Mr
Smith would go on to become its vice
The group was at the vanguard of an
exciting new era in computing. Mr
Smith said its first president was
Trevor Pearcey, who is recognised in
the industry as a visionary.
"There was a group of half a dozen
or so people who thought it would be
a good idea to have a society,'' he said.
"We all felt back then that we were
part of a wave of modern development
that was going to be fairly important
and do interesting things. What has
happened since then is that the rate of
change has been extraordinary.''
The society has grown rapidly.
It has more than 2300 members and
hosts about 95 events annually.
The Canberra branch supports a
thriving information and
communication technology sector in
the capital and provides leadership to
the federal government and the ICT
"Canberra has always been an
unusual place in many ways,'' Mr
Smith said. "There is a concentration
of academic institutions and
government and it has always had a
fair amount of high technology.
"There are people in Canberra doing
software and various other things that
have been marketed worldwide and
there has always been people here
doing very useful things.''
ACS Canberra chairman Jeff
Mitchell said Mr Smith's
achievements, including the
introduction of computer science
courses at the Australian National
University, were significant and worth
HELPS FIGHT POVERTY
The Nusa Tenggara Association
provides aid to rural areas of Indonesia
to reduce poverty. The Canberra-based
association is hosting a fundraising
dinner on March 20 at Woden's
Hellenic Club. The two-course dinner
will feature a presentation, raffles and
an auction. Reply by following the
links at nta.org.au, or email
email@example.com for information.
Thanks to The Chronicle and the
National Museum of Australia, readers have the
chance to win a Spirited: Australia's Horse Story
exhibition prize pack to the value of $500, or one
of 10 double passes* to the Spirited exhibition,
on show at the Museum until 9 March 2015.
To enter tell us in 25 words
or less why you love horses
online at canberratimes.com.au/competitions
Winners will be contacted by email. Members of the Federal Capital Press of
Australia Pty Ltd, Canberra Times Direct carriers, newsagents and their immediate
families are ineligible to enter this competition. *Children under 16 receive free
entry if accompanied by an adult. Image © Matthew Seed --- The Horse Photographer
Sa d u an wi !
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