Wat Thai Buddharam
Tradition : Theravada, Thai
1 Paradise Road
Phone : 3806 8900
Fax : 3806 8906
Website : www.watthaibrisbane.com.au
The Early Years
The Thai temple in Brisbane was born out of the mother temple in Melbourne, Victoria, which is called Wat Thai Nakorn Melbourne. Both these temples have Phra Thammakhunaphon (Luangpo Phaibun), left, as their patron. In 1987, a new Australian monk who lived in the Melbourne temple and who was eager to practise meditation as the Buddha did, wanted to go to Thailand to do so. His name was
Phra Norman Dhammanusarano [resigned after six years and is now going by the nickname ”Joe”]. He thought he may never come back from Thailand and wanted to say “Goodbye” to his parents who lived in Brisbane. So, with the permission of the abbot in Melbourne, Dr Phramaha Chamras Viriyanando, he set off with one Thai monk, Phramaha Wanchai Phasuko [resigned after about 22 years] and the driver, Lee Cahill, to visit Brisbane. They left in April 1987 just after the Songkran Festival. The abbot sent the Thai monk along to see if the Buddhist people in Brisbane wanted a temple built there.
After a little while, through the networking of the Sangha Trust, much interest was shown by the Buddhist community: Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Burmese and Sri Lankan. As there were very few Buddhist monks of any tradition in Brisbane at the time, the Buddhist community requested the monks to stay in Brisbane permanently and help establish a temple for their religious practices. There was one Sri Lankan Theravadin monk at the time the monks came to Brisbane.
The two monks came back to the rooms under the shop in Highgate Hill, Brisbane and started looking for more suitable accommodation with the support of the lay Buddhists. Soon they temporarily rented a house in 26 Queenscroft Street, Chelmer, Queensland 4068, about 10 kilometres west of the City of Brisbane while they continued to look for more permanent accommodation. Initially based in Highgate Hill, then relocating to Chelmer, the Buddhist Community bought a property at Ellen Grove (pictured).
It was at this location the Phra Norman Dhammanusara.no went on alms-round
[Bindapad] in the streets of Carole Park. This may have been the first time a monk collected alms food in Brisbane. Children were usually playing in the streets, so they saw the monk first. They eventually asked him what he was and what he was doing and the next day when they saw him, they would run into their house and ask their mother for food for the monk. It was also whilst at this location Phra Norman taught inmates at the local prison about the Buddha‟s teaching and meditation.
After a year or so, they found out the Logan Motorway was going to be built across the property and they would have to move once again. The Buddhist community liaised with the council to get a property that would be safe from such a thing happening again and that they would probably be able to get approval for as a proper Buddhist temple. That is when they found the current property at 1 Paradise Road, Forestdale, Queensland 4118, a very apt address for a temple! They purchased this property in 1995 and moved there.
More Recent Events
The current abbot, Ajahn Chonlatish Chanhorm [see picture on page 68] has very
successfully managed the activities and events at Wat Thai Buddharam from
2007 to the present. He is now an Australian citizen and, like the first abbot Chao
Khun Chana, he is one of a very few to complete his grade 9 Pali studies as a
novice monk, before taking full ordination. When this happens, the monk‟s full
ordination is officiated and patronised by the King of Thailand himself. Even with such knowledge he is not lazy to learn more and he hopes to do a doctorate soon. He kindly supports the monks to be creative in finding ways to practice the Buddha‟s teaching: avoid evil, do good and purify the mind. Below are some of the activities he has encouraged and overseen.
The main hall was finished in 2005. It is in a more contemporary style, but has been influenced by Thai style. The hall has hosted many events including a training session in 2007 of teachers of Buddhist Religious Education in State High Schools.
This is a picture of the main altar in the main hall. The green image is a replica of the Emerald Buddha in the Palace Temple in Bangkok. The original is only about 30 cm high, but this replica is about one metre high.
The temple now has about 2000 members out of the estimated 3,500 Thais living
in South East Queensland. Some of the members are Australian men married to
1. There are people who have committed to bring lunch for the monks each day of the week. After lunch a monk gives a brief Dhamma talk.
2. There is meditation for the general public at 7pm each night, unless there is a special Buddhist event, including Buddhist days during the Rains.
3. There is a Thai Buddhist Sunday School on Sunday mornings for children to learn Thai culture, including: manners, music, language and Thai Buddhism.
4. There are Thai language classes on Sunday afternoons for Australian adults.
There are English language classes on Sunday afternoons for Thai adults. [The three activities above follow the primary school terms and have minimal fees to cover snacks and study materials.]
5. There is a 10 day meditation retreat program ending with Wesak Day – mostly in Thai.
6. There is a 10 day temporary novice ordination program in January – mostly in Thai.
7. Thai New Year around the 13th of April each year is the biggest day for the temple. Called "Songkran", approximately 6,000 people came in 2009. It is one of the cultural events at the temple along with Thai Mother‟s Day and others.
There are many special Buddhist days. Please see the Events page on the temple
website for more details: www.watthaibrisbane.com.au.
The main Buddhist days are:
Visakha Puja [Wesak - day of the Buddha‟s Birth, Enlightenment and
Entering the Rains and End of Rains Robe Offering Ceremony.
Thai Royal Family is a sponsor the Robe Offering Ceremony.
In serving the general community, monks are invited to speak publicly and they
join with other Buddhist groups at times, for example the Buddha‟s Birthday
Celebration at South Bank each year.
2009 has seen six monks in residence, the most number at the temple so far. One
Thai monk had to return to Thailand. So for the Rains [July to October] in 2009,
there were four Thai monks and one Australian monk. There are usually between
five and six monks in residence at any time.
Ajahn Chonlatish Chanhorm – is the present Abbot, fully ordained 17 years