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‘Proud moments’: NSW government announces heritage listing status for Australia’s First Sikh Temple

Australia's First Sikh Temple Complex, Woolgoolga. Source: Supplied

Australia’s First Sikh Temple, or Gurdwara, has been listed on the State Heritage Register by the New South Wales government, highlighting its role in the state’s cultural history.

The Sikh place of worship, known as a Gurdwara, has been the social and religious heartbeat of the state’s Sikh community since its construction in 1968, said the NSW Minister for Heritage, the Hon Don Harwin MLC.

“The First Sikh temple, located in Woolgoolga on the beautiful mid-north coast, is of great significance to the cultural history of New South Wales as it demonstrates the migration and permanent settlement of the Sikh community in our state,” Minister Harwin said in a statement last week. 


Highlights:

  • Australia's First Sikh Temple was established in 1968 in Woolgoolga on the mid-north coast
  • It has recently been listed on the State Heritage Register by the NSW government
  • Sikh community says the announcement signifies an important chapter of Australia’s Sikh history

New building of the first sikh temple
The new building of the First Sikh Temple of Australia opened in 2019.
SBS Punjabi
The first Gurdwara building, a longstanding centre for worship, ceremony, gathering and participation, now shares its site and use with the new Gurdwara, built in a traditional Sikh architectural style with its magnificent gold and white roof domes, which opened in 2019.

“Together, these buildings are of profound importance to the Sikh community, and it is from these buildings, the old and the new, from which the Sikh community give so generously to their wider community,” Mr Harwin said.

Minister Harwin said he was delighted to announce the temple’s entry on the Register.

“It is important to acknowledge the breadth of NSW’s historical story and the inclusion of this temple will be the first listing for the Sikh faith on NSW’s pre-eminent heritage register.” 

The first Sikh Temple of Australia
The first Sikh Temple of Australia opened in Woolgoolga in 1968.
SBS Punjabi

Local resident, Deesh Kaur, said that her father, Niranjan Singh More, who came to Australia in 1938 may have never thought that their ‘Sikh legacy’ will once be preserved in Australia’s history as a ‘state heritage’.

Ms Kaur who migrated to Woolgoolga, NSW, from India to live with her father in 1964 said the recent announcement signifies an important chapter in Australia’s Sikh history.

“We are very thankful to the government for this announcement. This will ensure that the significance of The First Sikh Temple will continue to be recognised and protected for future generations.

“It is proud moment for our Sikh community. From the early settlers to these generations, our legacy is here to stay with this heritage listing,” she told SBS Punjabi. 

Deesh Kaur’s father Niranjan Singh More was one of the early Sikh settlers who established the first Sikh Temple in Woolgoolga.
Deesh Kaur’s father Niranjan Singh More was one of the early Sikh settlers who established the first Sikh Temple in Woolgoolga.
Supplied

Acting Minister for Multiculturalism Geoff Lee said the heritage-listing of the First Sikh Temple is wonderful for the entire Sikh community in NSW.

“As NSW residents were overcome by the devastation of recent fires and floods our generous Sikh community were there to offer their unwavering help and assistance,” Minister Lee said.

This listing is symbolic of NSW’s wonderfully diverse and inclusive multicultural communities.

Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, Australia’s first Sikh member of Parliament, said his electorate is a diverse and thriving region.

“Receiving heritage listing for the temple is very significant for our region, and a proud moment for Australia’s Sikh community,” he said.

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