Eddie Liu

Eddie Liu’s life time of involvement in key projects for the state of Queensland and Queensland’s Chinese-Australian community has been recognised by State and Commonwealth Governments on numerous occasions. In 1980, Liu was awarded an Order of the British Empire for community service. In 1987, he was appointed Honorary Ambassador for the City of Brisbane. In 2001, Liu was awarded the Order of Australia, and in 2004, he was awarded Metropolitan Local Hero for Queensland in the Australian of the Year Awards. Liu received an honorary doctorate from the University of Queensland in 2007, and was honoured as a Queensland Great in 2010.

Who was the father of Brisbane’s Chinatown? Icon Arrow Down

Eddie Liu arrived in Melbourne in 1937, aged 14, to complete his secondary education at a Christian Brothers College and to join his father, a herbalist, who had been in Australia since the turn of the century. Liu married an Irishwoman Elizabeth Margaret Brown in 1940, raising four daughters, Mayling, Maria, Libby and Lisa, and two sons, Peter and Frank.

During WWII, Liu was called up to serve in the Australian Military Forces, and was immediately recruited by the Manpower Department to Brisbane. Eddie became the supervisor of 2000 Chinese seaman building landing barges for the American Small Ship Building Project in Bulimba. The Chinese seamen formed a union, inviting Liu to be their paid Secretary. In this capacity, Liu raised funds for wartime refugees, cared for the men under him who fell ill, and ensure dignified burials for those who died in accidents.

Liu remained in Brisbane after the war, becoming a fruit and vegetable supplier, and continued to be active in community affairs, founding the Chinese Club of Queensland in 1952. Throughout his career, Liu raised funds for various charities including the Mater Hospital, the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital, the Leukaemia Foundation, the Australian Red Cross, and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Liu was active in resettlement programs for Chinese, Solomon Islander and Thai migrants. He raised funds and arranged life-saving organ donations for under-privileged children, and sponsored gifted students. Liu also promoted Chinese language and Asian history programs at Queensland universities.

In the 1960s, Liu successfully lobbied the Queensland Government to have the then derelict Holy Triad Temple in Breakfast Creek returned to the Brisbane Chinese Temple Society under State legislation. In 1964, Liu drafted the constitution for the restoration and preservation of the Temple, ensuring its universal access and continuing use as a place of worship. Money was raised and a bank loan taken to repair the temple and extend it by the addition of housing for a caretaker monk and a second sanctuary for Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. The temple was completed and reopened in 1966.

Liu established a herbalist practice in Fortitude Valley from 1974 until 1986. In 1983, he was invited by the Minister for Local Government, Russ Hinze, to join a committee for the establishment of Brisbane's Chinatown. Liu became the Chairperson of the Fortitude Valley Chinatown Advancement Committee, and travelled to China to engage BZ Mo, chief architect of the Guangzhou Planning Administration, to design Brisbane's Chinatown. Brisbane's Chinatown officially opened in 1987, coinciding with the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Liu was a long-term active member of the Chinese Club of Queensland. He travelled to Hong Kong in the 1970s sourcing the Ching Chung Taoist Association to establish a $3.5 million temple, aged care facility and Chinese garden complex on the Chinese Club of Queensland's new five acre property at Deagon. The Chinese Club completed their own building on the property in 1989, but being too far from the city, relocated to 256 Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley, selling the Deagon club to the Ching Chung Taoist Association for $1.2 million.

From 1999 to 2000, Liu was a member of the Advisory Board on International Business and Politics at Griffith University. From 2001 to 2004, he was the Director of the Valley District Chamber of Commerce. Towards the end of his life, Liu remained focused on establishing a Chinese Retirement Village in Brisbane. Liu died on 25 June 2013, aged 91.

  • Chudleigh, J. 2013. 'The father of Chinatown Eddie Liu dies, aged 91', Quest Community News [online]. 26 June. .
  • Liu, TW. Queensland State Archives. Digital Image ID: 1898, 2013. .
  • Liu, Eddie & Diana Giese (Interviewer). Eddie Liu interviewed by Diana Giese in the Chinese Australian Oral History Project. National Library of Australia, Oral History Section, Canberra, 1999.
  • Mac Donald, A. 2013. 'Brisbane honours the 'father' of China Town, Eddie Liu, in City Hall funeral service'. The Coureir Mail [online]. 11 July. .
  • Mok, J. Multicultural Trailblazers. Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland & Multicultural Community Centre, Brisbane, 2004.