The Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo is one of Victoria's premier tourist attractions. A massive undertaking developed under the guidance of the Bendigo Chinese Association, the Museum continues to get bigger and better each year , outshining even those in both Melbourne and Sydney.
The entire complex has been designed according to Chinese Feng Shui principles and it is an area that brings prosperity and peace to the town.
8232;Visiting the Golden Dragon Museum is an inexpensive treat compared to other tourist activities. Adults pay only $11.00, children $6.00 or you can purchase a combined family pass for $28.00 .
The museum is open every day of the year (except Christmas) from 9:30am - 5:00pm and is staffed by a group of friendly volunteers, who are always ready to spend time chatting about the important items on display or the cultural heritage of the Chinese in Bendigo.
Sun Loong is a one-hundred metre long dragon making him the longest Chinese dragon in the world. He slumbers on a spiralling ramp within the museum, his head positioned near an altar. Offerings of fruit and fresh water are given to Sun Loong for nourishment and incense is burned so that he can breathe.
Chinese Lions and other dragons sit at his base and ceremonial weapons, pretty banners, flags, and lantern animals are displayed along his side.
Sun Loon's gallery is circular so that no evil spirits can inhabit any corners or the room. Along its perimeter, there are exhibitions that teach about the experience of the Chinese in Bendigo, particularly their lives on the goldfields.
Many of the ancient artefacts that were smuggled out of China during the revolution were hidden with Chinese communities in Australia. Now, they are on display in the Bendigo Golden Dragon Museum's Imperial Gallery.
In the Imperial Gallery, you'll see intricately carved day beds, delicate, gold, embroidered silk, and of course, examples of the notorious three-inch lily slippers into which upper-class Chinese girls would have their feet bound.
There are ceremonial robes and warrior outfits as well as timber furniture, statues and a Chinese rickshaw. The Imperial Gallery is also home to Loong, the one-hundred and twenty year old veteran and most elderly dragon in the world.
This wide, museum forecourt was added to the museum in 2010 and opened in a great ceremony during August of that year. The forecourt contains three, giant, sculptural pieces; a lotus flower, chrysanthemum, and garlic blossoms that represent the three religions of China; Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Despite their symbolic importance, these sculptures are not kept behind fences, locked away from the public. In fact, the bright, pink chrysanthemum has a sort of seating section inside to encourage visitors to enter its yin-yang configured petals. The lotus is an absolute lure for children who enjoy climbing in and out of it.
Red, lanterns adorn posts around the Dai Gum San area. Others are topped with half moon orbs . There is bamboo planted in asymmetrical, raised, garden beds and a number of fierce, Chinese Lions guarding the grounds. Some pines have been planted to honour the significant Chinese families of Bendigo and the bridge that crosses over the Bendigo creek has been decorated with swirling Chinese clouds.
These traditional gardens were built with the assistance of the City of Baoding in China. In them you'll discover a walled area of peace with carved, marble fences, trees, flowers and short shrubs. There are classically shaped buildings and corridors which have been colourfully painted with flowers and scenes from Chinese mythology. There are steps and pathways and statues scattered about.
It's possible to purchase a bag of fish food pellets from the garden front gate so that you can entice the hundreds of goldfish that live in the garden's pond to reveal their heads at the surface. The garden is a favoured place for contemplation as well. It has circular windows in its walls and jagged, zig-zagged pathways to confuse the evil spirits and bad energy.
Red, blue, green, white and yellow are used to decorate the garden buildings.
The Goddess Kuan Yin, is worshipped in both Buddhist and Taoist temples throughout the East. In Bendigo, she is given her own monument and gardens with altar and kneeling, prayer pillows.
The Goddess, associated with compassion and mercy, is thought to be observant of the sufferings of the world . Worshippers come to pray for her benevolence and leave offerings of fruit, candles and incense at her feet.
Two warrior figures stand sentinel at Kuan Yin's gate. Then, the gardens open up to reveal images of pheasants and cherry blossom and forty or so murals, some in relief form, that depict scenes from Chinese religious stories.
She has a lemon tree and bamboo in her gardens. Her temple is fringed by two elegant conifers and Kuan Yin has five or so smaller deities and Chinese lions around her.
You can stop of for a snack at either the beginning or end of your visit to the Golden Dragon Museum. Light meals are served and cold drinks or ice-creams are available. The big event in the tea rooms are the Yum Cha lunches, which happen there on the third Sunday of each month.
The Golden Dragon Museum gift shop offers an absolute explosion of tourism souvenirs and chinoiserie. There are Bendigo magnets, snowglobes, collector spoons and pins, as well as Chinese-themed zodiac animals, miniature buddahs, paper kites and lanterns, small puppet dragons and beautiful fans.
Of particular novelty are the gift shop's intricate, cloisonné eggs. Cloisonne' is the oriental art form of melting copper into patterned shapes and filling it with polished enamel.
An example of Chinese cloisonne' (source: en.wikipedia.org)