This one being the best known and most frequently mentioned, I’m just including material relating to its opening, closure and useful descriptions.
The first mention of a joss house at Weldborough or Thomas Plains predates the opening of the building by almost a year:
From “The Chinese Camp at Thomas’ Plains”
The Joss-house is frequented, and bushels of crackers burnt, the debris from which bestrews the whole camp.
The Mercury, 15 February 1883
The opening was apparently a big event in the area.
New Joss House. We have been informed that at the end of the present month a new Joss House will be opened in the Chinese Camp at Thomas Plains, when a grand display of fireworks and colored lights will also take place in connection therewith. On this occasion the Chinese resident in the district are to appear in their native dresses and gorgeous regalia, in order that they may help in the opening ceremony. The gathering is to last two days.
Daily Telegraph, 24 January 1884
New Joss House.–We have been interviewed by the high priest (about 5ft 6in) who is to officiate at the inauguration of the new Joss House at Thomas Plains on the 31st inst. The ceremony is to be of a most imposing, character, as the Mongolian dresses, emblems, banners, regalia, and fireworks are to be gorgeous, and the music–most ancient; from Pekin—-celestial. The ceremonies will occupy two days and nights, viz., Thursday and Friday next, 31st January and 1st February. We envy the inhabitants of Thomas’ Plains, who will have full opportunity of. witnessing the mysterious ceremonies on this occasion. The admission is free, and all are invited.
Daily Telegraph, 26 January 1884
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
Thursday last was a red letter day for the people at Thomas’ Plains, being the commencement of the New Year with the Chinese. There was a great muster of that nation, as well as Europeans. The fireworks that were let off in the evening were certainly very beautiful, being imported direct from China, The Joss consists of a painting of an immense personage, and two much smaller figures, one on each side. Pigs were roasted whole, weighing from 80 pounds tot90 pounds, and were well done all through. Before being eaten they were placed in the Joss House before the Joss, and left for about an hour, for him to get his supper first. Strange to say, a t the end of the time allowed the Joss for his repast, when his worshippers went for the pigs, they had not been cut into a t all, his lordship, 1 suppose, not being hungry. The Chinese were very hospitable, and paid every attention to the visitors, supplying them with all sorts of good things in the shape of preserves, spirituous liquors, and other luxuries. I believe that all the horses at George’s Bay were in requisition to carry the visitors from here to the plain. The fireworks, I understand, cost a lot of money, and one may easily imagine they* must have done so, when one alone cost £30, and was something to he remembered. The carving of the wooden frame work of the picture was really a beautiful piece of workmanship, and is well worth seeing.
Tasmanian News, 6 February 1884
But John, like all other thinking animals, must have his religion : it may be hard to reduce it an intelligible issue, what with its mythological figures, fables, fireworks and fatality. Still to him, it is everything, and no sooner are we favoured with an imperfectly macadamized highway than it is immediately utilised in supplying him with the necessary helps in support of his faith. Almost the first dray load of merchandise brought directly on to the plains consisted of a costly set of religious furnishments, including of course a brand new Joss, with fireworks, drums, gongs, and cymbals to boot, hence the unlovely outburst, hinted at in the opening of these notes. To one whose musical fibre seems attuned to nature’s pitch there is something horribly aggravating in John’s musical efforts. I can liken them to nothing better than a tin-kettle corrobborree breaking in upon a marriage feast. Whatever may be tho moral excellencies involved on the philosophical teachings of Confucius, it is to be regretted that he, though skilled himself to play upon a lute with ten silken strings, left nothing recorded to enlighted his countrymen touching the concord of sounds.
Mercury 6 February 1884