Snapshots of Penang Week 1977 in Adelaide

By Rachel Yeoh

April 2024 PHOTO ESSAY
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Introducing sepak takraw, a traditional Southeast Asian team sport played with a ball made of rattan.

Words by Rachel Yeoh. Photos courtesy of Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Foundation.

A PARTICULAR INTEREST shown to visiting delegates of the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) to Adelaide by the then Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, in 1972 could have been the catalyst for Adelaide’s sister-city relationship with George Town today. After the initial introduction to the heritage and culture of Penang, Dunstan paid Penang a visit, only to discover the father-son link between the two cities: Captain Francis Light set up a settlement in Penang and founded George Town, while his son, Colonel William Light was one of the founders and the celebrated surveyor-general of Adelaide.

On 19 February 1973, Dunstan sent a proposal for establishing a sister-city relationship with George Town. On 8 December 1973, the sister-city pact was signed, and for several years thereafter, Penang Week was held in Adelaide, introducing the state’s unique heritage, arts, culture and food to the people of Adelaide.

Penang Monthly presents several photographs courtesy of the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Foundation, taken during 1977’s North Malaysia Week [1], also known as Penang Week in Adelaide.

Locals enjoying trishaw rides during the festivities.
Penang’s Chingay Parade stunts performed at Adelaide’s parklands.
Introducing the map of North Malaysia to children eager to learn about the geography of Penang and the surrounding states.
Traditional Malay attap houses were brought to Adelaide for the locals to view. Before entering South Australia, every part of the house was fumigated to ensure no stray species from Malaysia enters Australia. The attap houses were then assembled for the festivities.
Children and adults trying their hand at drawing batik motifs (mencanting batik).
Penang’s famous hawkers were flown in to serve authentic Penang cuisine. Among the dishes sold during Penang Week were Lor Bak, Pasembur, Curry Kapitan, Chun Pneah (spring rolls) and Char Koay Teow, among others.
Serving up wok hei to the locals.
Other relevant vendors also participated in North Malaysia Week. Here, a vendor is showcasing Malaysian textiles to a local.
Hundreds of thousands flocked to the North Malaysia Week festivities and there were very long lines for the food.
Dunstan with Penang Chief Minister, Lim Chong Eu, leading the procession to start North Malaysia Week.
Dunstan painting the eyes of the lion presented to South Australia.
On the final day of North Malaysia Week, the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived in Adelaide as part of their Silver Jubilee Commonwealth Tour. Silat (a self-defense originating from the Nusantara region)[2] was performed by the Malaysian contingent to welcome her at Elder Park.
Lim Chong Eu and wife, Goh Sing Yeng, escorting the Queen along the stalls and exhibits set up for North Malaysia Week.


[1] Penang Week in Adelaide started in 1975. Its success encouraged the Penang state government to plan something larger, involving the northern states of Penang; hence, the 1977 Penang Week was named North Malaysia Week. Penang Week continued to be celebrated a few times a decade until the 1990s.


Rachel Yeoh

is a former journalist who traded her on-the-go job for a life behind the desk. For the sake of work-life balance, she participates in Penang's performing arts scene after hours.