By Marie Hammond (Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria)
I joined the Chinese Australian Family Historians of Victoria (CAFHOV) to learn more about my Dad’s life in Australia. He was known as George Woon later in life but the name he used when he first arrived was Ah Tow. With the help of CAFHOV member Terry I found two matches for my Dad in the Victoria CEDT Index under the name of ‘Ah Tow’.
The first entry, in 1921, shows he was a cabinetmaker in Melbourne who had lived in Australia for 21 years. This has given me a possible date of 1900 for when my Dad first came to Australia. This matches the information my mother told me. She said my Dad came to Australia as a 19 or 20-year old. According to the entry in the Victorian CEDT register he was 41 years old when he travelled in 1921 and so would have been about 20 years old when he arrived.
I found a second entry in 1932. It tells me he must have come back again to Australia and left again in 1932 for China. I now know he was residing in Melbourne for 32 years. The reason he may have returned to China in 1932 was he was possibly looking to find a new wife, my mother, whom he brought to Australia in 1948. His first wife had died giving birth to a daughter who was being cared for by an elderly grandparent.
It was possible verify that that this Melbourne cabinet maker called ‘Ah Tow’ was my Dad by matching these entries with his CEDT.
My mother told me that whilst he was in China, the second-hand furniture shop that he ran near Little Bourke St was burnt down but I have not been able to verify that. I think my Dad possibly moved to regional Victoria on his return to Victoria, as the town’s folk in Red Cliffs (Victoria) have told me they remember him being in the town in the 1930s. Covid restrictions have prevented me from investigating my Dad’s life further but I’m looking forward to doing so.