Chinese restaurant pioneers take rural town’s last orders after 43 years

A rural community is bidding farewell to the family behind the town’s first and only Chinese restaurant and celebrating their role in diversifying its culinary palate.

Visit any country town in Australia and there is a very likely chance you will find at least one Cantonese-style restaurant to enjoy a meal.

But this was not always the case.

When Allan and Patricia Ho arrived in the rural community of Condobolin, in central-west New South Wales, in 1976, they saw a business opportunity too good to pass up.

Encouraged by friends, they established the town’s first Chinese take-away and dine-in restaurant.

“It was so scary though, because it was only myself,” Mr Ho said.

“A lot of people, when you walk out there, they looked at you [like you’re] different. That time, you’re alone, with a different culture.”

Fitting into the community

Mr Ho persisted and now, after serving thousand meals over the past 40 years, the 71-year-old is finally hanging up his apron and wok and moving on.

It is a new chapter for the Malaysian-born chef who has built a strong bond with the people in the farming community.

“I live here so long, make so many friends, it’s more [like a] family,” he said.

“If I go out there [now people say], ‘Oh how are you brother?’ It doesn’t matter what colour you are.

“It makes you feel so welcome.”

Mr Ho says the Oriental Chinese Restaurant would not have been a success without Patricia’s help.

She swapped her life in the bustling city of Bangkok for the quiet streets of Condobolin, a town of 3,500 people.

“When we first came here I find it was very isolated,” Ms Ho said.

Hard work brings prosperity

Life changed after the Hos’ children were born and started attending the local schools.

The couple became involved in the town’s sporting clubs and Ms Ho took up sewing courses at the local TAFE and later started a side business.

Their efforts put their three daughters through school and ultimately they each graduated from university — the first generation of the family to achieve that goal.

“[It was] very important to see the children got [an] education to see the success of all the children,” Ms Ho said.

“I’m very proud of my three girls and proud of ourselves to stick together to make it happen.”

The couple’s youngest daughter Cindy recalled childhood memories of growing up surrounded by aromas and flavours from the busy restaurant, which became a second home.

“[I was] helping out from as early as I can remember and mainly sleeping and doing my homework in the restaurant while mum and dad were working,” Cindy said.

“I was here more often than I was at our other house.”

Celebrating family’s contribution

Hairdresser Leanne Anderson runs a salon across the road from the family’s restaurant.

She remembers giving Ms Ho her first haircut after she moved to town and has done the same for the rest of the family ever since.

“[Patricia] couldn’t speak one word of English,” Ms Anderson said.

“But she always came back so we must have communicated somehow.”

Ms Anderson went to the effort of organising a farewell party for the family to celebrate their contribution to the town’s social life.

“I think it’s been a big part of their life and their girls have grown up here,” she said.

“To be a part of a small community that appreciated them is probably why they stayed for so long.”

Introducing new flavours to town

As the first and only remaining Chinese restaurant in Condobolin, the Ho family introduced new culinary flavours to the community, long-time resident and councillor Dennis Brady said.

“At the time, when Allan came, the only restaurants we ever had here were two Greek cafes,” he said.

“To have something that was different, having a Chinese one, made a different palate.

“It was good food, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business for 43 years later.”

As president of the town’s chamber of commerce, Mr Brady is pleased to see the business continue under a new owner, especially when many shops are struggling through the drought.

“Allan has sold his business to somebody else so the connection is going to stay there and that’s good as well,” he said.

“I hope the new person who comes on is here for another 43 years.”

Allan and Patricia Ho will be moving interstate to join two of their daughters who now live in Melbourne.

Mr Ho said it was hard to leave behind the small town that he and his family had called home for so many years.

“Condo’s people [are] so nice,” Mr Ho said.

“You feel like you want to live here all the time.”

While you’re here … are you feeling curious?


Milos Novakovic sentenced to 20 years’ jail for murdering party host in restaurant brawl

A construction worker who stabbed another man to death after a “silly” brawl at an outer-Melbourne restaurant two years ago has been sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison.

Key points:

  • Milos Novakovic will not be eligible for parole for 15 years
  • The sentencing judge said his victim was defenceless when he was killed
  • The court heard Deni Dimovski’s mother visits his grave every day

Deni Dimovski, 32, was in the “prime of his life” when he was killed by Milos Novakovic, who was found guilty of murder.

On Saturday, September 9, 2017, Mr Dimovski had been hosting a party for about 50 guests at the Korzo Grill House restaurant in Caroline Springs, in Melbourne’s west, when Novakovic and others gate-crashed the event.

Justice Michael Croucher described the scene as “a convivial evening of Balkans singing and music, together with the consumption of a goodly amount of food and alcohol, [which] was winding up”.

“Things turned from silly to nasty to violent,” he said during Friday’s sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The intruding men were ejected from the restaurant by the front door.

“There was … evidence that Mr Novakovic kicked the front door of the restaurant, causing damage to a glass panel, and that he yelled three times, ‘I’m gonna kill him’.”

Just after 2:00am they returned through the kitchen at the back of the premises in Gourlay Road, Caroline Springs.

“Mr Novakovic spontaneously grabbed a knife and stabbed Mr Dimovski twice — once to the chest, which killed him, and once to the arm, which did not contribute to death,” Justice Croucher said.

“Mr Dimovski was on his back, vulnerable and more or less defenceless against Mr Novakovic at the moment that he was fatally stabbed,” Justice Croucher said.

The court heard Novakovic was arrested the next day after he tried to flee Australia.

Novakovic had pleaded guilty to charges of affray and aggravated burglary.

Mother visits victim’s grave every day, court hears

Two of his co-accused, Sasa Jovic and Milan Jovic, were sentenced for affray and aggravated burglary in June.

Novakovic initially pleaded guilty to manslaughter but the jury found he was guilty of murder.

Deni Dimovski’s mother, Snezana Dimovska, still lives in his homeland of Macedonia and the court heard she visits his gravesite every day.

“She says that she was so shocked and saddened when told of her son’s death that she fell to the ground, went into a coma and was taken to hospital,” Justice Croucher said.

“She feels she will never get over the loss.”

Mr Dimovski had been living in Australia for three years after arriving in 2014 on a working holiday visa.

Novakovic was born in Bosnia, of a Serbian family, and lived through the civil war there in the 1990s.

He came to Australia after spending time in a refugee camp.

The court heard he had made a good life for himself in the construction sector, working as a plasterer.

He was starting his own excavation business when the murder happened.


Sydney Korean soju restaurant in hot water after patrons pass out after downing 86 drinks

A Sydney restaurant owner is in hot water after a group of diners became so drunk that some were later found passed out on the street.

Key points:

  • One woman and a man were found unconscious on the street in pools of vomit
  • The alcohol content in the Korean liquor soju can be as high as 50 per cent
  • The NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority has imposed a strike against the venue licensee

Police allege the group of five were served 86 shots of the potent Korean liquor soju during a boozy six-hour birthday celebration at the Haru Fusion Soju Lounge in Sydney’s Castlereagh Street.

One female member of the group was so intoxicated, police found her unconscious and lying next to a pool of vomit outside the venue on October 11 last year.

Another man had been lying unconscious on the road, before being moved to the footpath by road workers.

CCTV footage from the restaurant showed a female staff member not taking any action as she walked straight past a male from the group as he slept at a table in the restaurant.

The footage also showed another male falling over after losing his balance, and a female being carried out of the venue by two other patrons.

The alcohol content in Korea’s national drink can be as high as 50 per cent and has caused the heavy intoxication of other Sydney diners.

In November 2017, two women collapsed unconscious after drinking eight shots of soju at a restaurant in Sussex Street.

Haru Fusion licensee Chris Chang has been given a “first strike” by the NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority, under the NSW Government’s three strikes disciplinary scheme.

Authority chairman Philip Crawford said it was unacceptable that a group of five could be served that many drinks and further action may be taken against the venue, including winding back its trading hours.

“It’s a pretty serious amount of alcohol. The proof is in the pudding,” he said.

“This is a life-threatening incident which we just cannot tolerate.

“If they were unconscious from drinking too much alcohol, that’s a serious breach of the responsible service of alcohol regulations.”



An Introduction into the World of Balti

There is a fair amount of mysticism around the origin of Balti. The word Balti means ‘Bucket’ which bears no resemblance to the cooking dish the ‘Korai’ similar to the wok from which the Balti developed.

It is believed that the style of Balti cooking started in the northern region of Pakistan in the state of Kashmir, from where it then spread
throughout the Indian subcontinent and the rest of the world
(Birmingham UK) and now in Birkdale Australia. The regions close
proximity to China the home of the Wok may no doubt have influenced the development of the Balti.

We at the Spice Avenue, Birkdale take pride in our quality and high
standards of traditional Balti cooking. We specialise in a variety of Balti dishes cooked in the traditional way using only the finest and freshest of ingredients to ensure your complete satisfaction. Although many Balti names resemble curries which are served in the Australian-Indian restaurants, there is no similarity to the taste or cooking methods which are used in The Spice Avenue. This formula of cooking and presentation has been practiced in our UK branch since 1980.

In comparison to the days when the curry experience was a late night wrestle with a chicken vindaloo, cooled by a liberal amount of chilled lager, the Balti experience is one of subtlety yet spicy where you can taste the flavor of the food rather than the heat of the chilies.

The Spice Avenue is the perfect place for all functions and parties.​

Its warm and casual décor and authenticity of the food add to the intrigue and charm of any event.

We can organise and plan your event, work with you while taking your needs into consideration and keep you fully appraised to deliver a personalised service.

The Spice Avenue takes away the stress of organisation and allows you to be a special guest at your own event.
Function tables can be customised for upto 50 people.
To Book your next function –

Click Here to download the booking form


The Spice Avenue also offers off-site catering for events of any size and nature.
We can customise a package which suits your budget while satisfying your party.
Call Naz to discuss off-site catering options: 0421741947​

Catering equipment and utensils are also available for your next party at home.

Open hours

Monday & Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday 5.00pm – 8.30pm
Thursday 5.00pm – 8.30pm
Friday 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Saturday 4.30pm- 9.00pm
Sunday 4.30pm – 8.30pm


190 Birkdale Rd.
Aquatic Paradise Shopping Centre
Birkdale QLD 4159
Telephone: 07 3822 9822