On the encircling wall of a modest house in the small Zhongshan village of Sanxi (三溪) can be found a sign declaring its association with the Australian Wine Federation. The house itself, typical of many in the village built by those earning money overseas in the 1930s, is now a wine bar serving, among other things, Australian wines.
The Australian connection is however stronger than simply selling wines made in Australia. In fact most of the houses in this small village so close to the growing edge of modern Zhongshan City have been converted into boutique wine bars, cafes and restaurants. Heritage listed these houses and the village itself is finding a modern re-use that is helping preserve them for a new generation of Zhongshanese.
This innovative re-use of the heritage houses began when a local Zhongshan person by the name of He Fan (何芳) returned after having migrated to West Australia. It was He Fan who first thought of the idea of using an empty house to set up a wine bar and to import the wine from her Australian home. Soon popular with city locals, others took up the idea and the whole village is now a regular night time venue for those looking for something a little different.
The return of people from Australia to the villages has a long history, as does their efforts to invest and make innovative changes. He Fan’s wine bar is part of this heritage that her idea is also helping to preserve.