In 1923, Chinese immigrant Willie Mar began a market garden and shop at Winton in Queensland’s west and it continued for more than 75 years.
Willie Mar arrived in Queensland from Zhongshan province in China at the turn of the 20th century.
He worked as a cook and gardener on a number of stations between Hughenden, Richmond and Winton before in 1923 be became a shopkeeper and market gardener in Riley Street, on the edge of Winton.
Willie Mar was married to a young woman, but he only made two trips back. During an extended visit in 1929 a son, Yen Shoo, was born.
Willie returned to Winton not long after the birth and did not see his son again until 20 years later when in 1949 Young Willie Mar (Mar Yen Shoo) arrived in Winton.
Unable to speak English, Young Willie Mar began to learn his family business of shop keeping and market gardening from his father.
When Willie Mar died while working in his garden in 1954 at the age of 86. Young Willie Mar continued the business until 2000.
The fruit and vegetable shop, house and market garden was the longest operating Chinese market garden and shop of any western Queensland town.
Popular and well-loved by the community, Willie passed away in 2007, and many residents of Winton have vivid memories and engaging stories of Willie and his garden and have banded together to keep his legacy alive.