Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Waitt, G. R. (2010). Locating a Buddhist temple in Wollongong New South Wales. In C. Rocha & M. Barker (Eds.), Buddhism in Australia (pp. 74-83). United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.


The aim of this chapter is to examine why the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere (Nan Tien Temple- Paradise of the Southern Hemisphere) is located in Wollongong, New South Wales, a city built on a heavy industry legacy of coalmining and steelmaking. The choice of Wollongong may, therefore, seem quite remarkable at first, a decision which becomes even more astonishing when considering the small numbers that comprised the resident Buddhist community. Similarly, the site, in the suburb of Berkeley, appears equally puzzling given its proximity to a freeway, industrial estates and residential suburbs. An explanation for this location puzzle is sought within the discourses of the aldermen of Wollongong City Council, the Christian ministries and the Fo Kuang Shan. To help explore the location of Nan Tien Temple in the Wollongong suburb of Berkeley, data were collected from a range of sources through participatory observation, interviews with key informants and the collection of texts offering representations of the temple including: newspaper articles, the International Buddhist Association's newsletters and Wollongong City Council documents. Discourses identified as most critical to informing the decision to locate the temple in Berkeley were those pertaining to geomancy, multiculturalism, faith and tourism marketing.