Lit Sung Goong (Lie Sheng Gong) literally means “hall of various godsor sages” and the temple represented the three major spiritual traditions of China: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
In 1926, a fire and cyclone destroyed the front of the temple. The back section was renovated, and the temple continued to service a dwindling and changing community.
From the 1930s onwards, the Chinese Australian population in Cairns continued to decline. The younger generation had integrated into the mainstream life and were not interested in temple affairs. The temple was used less frequently and eventually fell into disrepair. Finally in 1964, a decision was made by the Cairns Joss Society to sell the land in order to pay the arrears in rates requested by the Cairns City Council. This resulted in the demolition of the temple building. Regrettably, Cairns had forgotten that the temple had been classified as a place of worship, exempt from rates.
it was fortunate that the internal fixtures and the entire collection of temple artefacts were salvaged by the Joss Society. Today, members of the Cairns and District Chinese Association are custodians of this important collection. It is their goal to establish a Chinese cultural facility in Cairns to re-house, preserve and showcase the collection for present and future generations.
Photo by Larisa Chen: