Skip links and keyboard navigation

99 Grafton St

99 Grafton Street, Cairns

Add to favourites

99 Grafton Street Cairns, July 2015 ; Heritage Branch Staff

99 Grafton Street Cairns, July 2015

Chinese shop 2008, after restoration ; EHP

Chinese shop 2008, after restoration

Chinese quarters at Cairns after the cyclone 1906 ; Heritage Branch Staff

Chinese quarters at Cairns after the cyclone 1906

Ninety-nine Grafton Street is one of the last remaining structures directly associated with the former Cairns Chinatown. Curiously, it is currently occupied by a Greek cafe, indicating the multicultural nature of Queensland society. One of the early landholders here was Andrew Leon. He was the owner of the Hap Wah sugar plantation which he sold in 1886, purchasing land in Cairns. The Chinese precinct had humble beginnings and was not a homogenous community, as it included residents from different Chinese cultural districts. Chinatown included boarding houses, gaming houses, opium dens and merchant stores. Andrew Leon built four shops on this property in 1892, leasing to merchant Lee Yan Kee. Lee Yan brought his wife from China in 1895 and in 1896 Mrs Lee Yan gave birth to a son. He was the first Chinese Australian child born in Cairns. At the same time, the Lit Sung Goong Temple was built adjacent to No. 99. This shop at 99 Grafton Street had numerous owners including cane farmer Frank Lee Chin, and operated intermittently as a brothel from 1903 until 1932. Chinese shopkeepers and women tenants remained here until the end of WWII. The adjacent temple was demolished in 1964.

Featured in these trails:

Coordinates: -16.92360976, 145.77482008

Full details of this heritage-registered place are in the Heritage register.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
28 February 2023