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On Walkabout At: The 2008 Bendigo Easter Parade – Part 1

Today my wife and I took a trip over to Bendigo to watch the annual Bendigo Easter Parade. Long time readers probably know that I am a big fan of Bendigo and enjoy visiting this great city every chance I can get. My wife and I went to last year’s parade and had a great time and we were sure this year’s parade would be great as well.

However, before we could enjoy the parade we had to find a place to park. Parking is very tight on the day of the parade so it is best to get there a little early. My wife and I found a place to park over at the city train station and then walked downtown from there. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the downtown area that was all sealed off for the parade. Something people don’t realize is that Bendigo during the Easter holiday does more then just hold the parade. It also has a number of cultural events along with turning the entire downtown area into one large carnival complete with rides.

Once my wife and I successfully waded through the crowds we made our way to the heart of downtown and found a spot in front of the Soldier Memorial to watch the parade from:

Soon enough the parade began and the first of many marching bands to come walked on by:

Then the first of the few bagpipe groups in the parade marched on by us:

These bagpipe players were from the Clan MacLeod and they looked every bit Scottish. Shortly after the bagpipe players the most famous part of the parade began to come by which is the Bendigo Chinese Association:

The Bendigo Easter Parade began in 1871 to raise money for a local hospital and has been ran annually ever since making the parade the oldest parade in Australia. The large Chinese community that moved to Bendigo during the gold rush years began participating in the parade in 1893 and ever since then has been the most prominent contributors to the parade which includes the world’s longest imperial dragon, Sun Loong which is without a doubt the star of the parade.

Before Sun Loong was going to make an appearance the Chinese marchers from not only Bendigo, but from Melbourne as well put on a variety of shows with their dragons, drums, gongs, and firecrackers:

You can probably see from the pictures that the Bendigo Chinese Association is not all full blooded Chinese. Most of the members we saw were white Australians that I am assuming have Chinese ancestry of some kind. Other marchers were of obvious Chinese ancestry:

Since the Chinese came to Bendigo during the gold rush in the 1860’s they have been fully integrated into Australian society including through marriage. I had a guy at work tell me that the Bendigo Chinese are actually more Australian than most Australians since they have lived in the country for so long

The kids were also getting into the act and they looked like they were having fun as well:

These dragon performers from Melbourne I really liked:

There was also guys lighting off Chinese fireworks on the road as they walked by:

Then eventually Sun Loong made its long awaited appearance at the parade:

Sun Loong is a really long dragon and I am estimating that it must of had about 100 people to move the dragon as it went by:

For those of you that couldn’t attend the parade to see Sun Loong you can actually see the dragon at anytime during a visit to Bendigo by stopping by the Golden Dragon Museum located in downtown that is home to the dragon. Additionally for anyone wondering, the beautiful building you see in the background of the above photograph is the historic Shamrock Hotel, one of my favorite buildings in Bendigo.

After Sun Loong went by we were greeted with yet more bagpipe players:

Then later on these two guys on stilts came by:

These two guys were actually quite impressive because they could walk on stilts and juggle at the same time. I would think that is no easy feat. Then they were followed by a procession of historic fire trucks:

The fire trucks were actually pretty cool, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be depended on them to save my house if it was burning down back in the days they were in service. Then following them was another Chinese inspired group, the Fu Wa Dancing Girls:

They were definitely girls, but we didn’t see any dancing though. They were followed by the weirdest thing in the parade, this person dressed as a giraffe:

I have no idea why this person was marching in the parade dressed as a giraffe, but it was an impressive outfit nonetheless. Another thing in the parade I couldn’t figure out why they were there, was this guy dressed as a dinosaur:

The guy in the dinosaur outfit was definitely having fun though because he was attacking little kids on the sidewalk watching the parade much to their amusement. Anyway there was yet much more to come in this fantastic parade.

Next Posting: The 2008 Bendigo Easter Parade – Part 2


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