Chinese immigrants have long played a major role in Bendigo’s history. The Chinese immigrants flocked to Bendigo when news of the gold strike there reached China. As the competition for the gold heated up the Chinese often faced harsh discrimination. However, Bendigo’s Chinese community preserved and prospered over the decades to where now a days Bendigo’s Chinese community is actually considered more Australian than most Australians themselves because they have lived in the country for so long.
The Chinatown section of Bendigo is quite evident by the Chinese gate that welcomes visitors to the area:
The Chinatown section of Bendigo is not what you would think of as a modern day Chinatown. This section of Bendigo is more or less a historical and cultural area for the city with the new Golden Dragon Museum being the main attraction there.
The museum is most famously known as the home to Sun Loong which is the world’s longest imperial dragon. You can see the head of the dragon pictured below in the museum:
The dragon leaves the museum only once a year to take part in the yearly Bendigo Easter Parade which my wife and I attended this year. You can read about our experiences at the parade here and here. The Chinese have taken part in the Bendigo Easter Parade since 1871 and is Australia’s oldest festival:
The museum also is filled with many historical exhibits and artifacts that describe the Chinese heritage of the city:
It is $8 to get in to the museum which isn’t to bad but I did find the museum a bit small. The museum also has a cafe where you try out different Chinese tea if you are so inclined. Located across the street from the museum are some Chinese gardens. The gardens have some nice pavilions, ponds, and viewing platforms that are nice to walk through and check out:
They are well maintained and is quite amazing to find such architecture in the middle of Australia:
If you look closely in the background of the above picture you can see Bendigo’s old Post Office building. On the northern outskirts of Bendigo and at the very end of the city’s tram system is the Chinese Joss House. The Joss House was built in the 1860’s and is still used by the city’s Chinese to this day:
It is open daily except for Sundays from 11AM-4PM. Check it out if you have the time. Any visit to Bendigo should at least include a visit to the Golden Dragon Museum to really appreciate the level of historical and cultural influence Bendigo’s Chinese community has had on the city. The Chinese have really added a lot of cultural charm to the already charming city of Bendigo.