The Bendigo Dragons
Dragons are traditionally used in China to celebrate special occasions such as the Lunar New Year, cultural festivals etc.
To register your interest in carrying a dragon at Easter 2019 please click on the buttons below.
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou (Canton) and its surrounding regions are home to a rich dragon parade tradition that Cantonese migrants brought with them to Bendigo in the nineteenth century. In 1892 they obtained from China Bendigo’s first processional dragon for use in the annual Easter Fair, a charity fundraising event in which the Chinese community has been active in contributing a gala parade from 1879 to the present day. Bendigo’s dragon tradition has been continued to this day by the Bendigo Chinese Association and has become a part of our local culture and heritage of which Bendigonians of all backgrounds are proud and can participate in.
In 1991 the Golden Dragon Museum was built to preserve and display the collection of dragons and the history of the local Chinese community which have been their cultural custodians.
To participate as a dragon carrier, in 2019, a carrier must be over the age of 16. It is an expectation that all Dragon Carrier participants will have reasonable cardiovascular/aerobic endurance and muscular strength.
The Golden Dragon Museum now houses 9 processional dragons and in 2019, the new dragon Dai Gum Loong will join Loong 龍, Sun Loong 新龍, Dai Gum Loong 大金龍, Yar Loong 夜龍, Gansu Loong 甘肅龍, Ming Loong 明龍, Ping Loong 平龍, Siu Lock Loong 小樂龍, Choi Loong 賽龍 and Gwong Loong 光龍.
In Bendigo, traditionally women carry female dragons and men carry male dragons. Greater Bendigo’s previous two Imperial Dragons, Sun Loong and Loong, are male and Dai Gum Loong will be also.
Loong is the oldest intact processional dragon in the world. He made his first processional appearance in 1901 and was the star attraction of Bendigo’s annual Easter parade until his retirement in 1970. He was created by the Sing Cheung 勝昌 workshop in the city of Foshan (Fatshan) on the Pearl River near Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China. Loong was constructed from silks, mirrors, bamboo, kingfisher feathers, and papier-mâché. His name simply means “dragon”, but historically he was also referred to by the Chinese community as Gum Loong 金龍 (Golden Dragon) and Moo Loong 舞龍 (Dancing Dragon). During his parading career Loong made a number of important appearances outside of Bendigo, most notably at the May 1901 procession in Melbourne to welcome the Duke and Duchess of York who had come to open the first Australian parliament – a century later he also appeared in the Melbourne parade which marked the centenary of the achievement of Australian Federation. In 2007 Loong was placed on Victoria’s heritage register due to his historic and cultural significance.
Loong requires 22 male carriers and is 29 meters long. His head weighs 29kg.
SUN LOONG 新龍
Sun Loong was brought from Hong Kong to replace Loong in 1970. He was created by the Lo On Kee 羅安記 workshop, a traditional lion and dragon builder. The hand-made mirrored scales, thousands of beads, and long skirts of his body are based on the Qing Dynasty style of his predecessor Loong, as are aspects of the design of his imposing head. Before his first appearance in 1970 he was blessed and ritually brought to life by 101 year old Mr James Lew who dotted his eyes with chicken blood in the traditional manner. Sun Loong has gone on parade every year since his arrival in Bendigo and made his first (and only) appearance outside of his home town at Lunar New Year festivities in Melbourne in February 2018. Sun Loong is being over 100 metres in length, requiring 1 person to carry the head, 3 people to carry the neck, 52 people to carry the body, 1 person to carry the tail and up to 52 reliefs. Carrying the head of the dragon has always been considered a position of honour, being reserved for those with a long record of service and commitment to the Bendigo Chinese Association. Sun Loong requires 57 male carriers and is approximately 100 meters long. He is covered in 6,000 scales, 90,000 mirrors, 40,000 beads, and his head weighs 20.5kg.
DAI GUM LOONG 大金龍
(Big Gold Dragon)
Dai Gum Loong was brought from Hong Kong to replace Sun Loong in 2019. He was created by 雄獅樓 Hung C Lau Ltd workshop, a traditional lion and dragon builder. The mirrored scales, thousands of beads, and long skirts of his body are based on the Qing Dynasty style of his predecessor Loong, just like Sun Loong, keeping the lineage of these dragons unique and unseen anywhere else in the world. Before his first appearance in 2019 he will be blessed and ritually brought to life by 84 year old Mr Russell Jack AM who will dot his eyes with chicken blood in the traditional manner. Dai Gum Loong is expected to parade every year. Dai Gum Loong is the longest Imperial style Dragon in the world, being over 120 metres in length, requiring 1 person to carry the head, 3 people to carry the neck, 70 people to carry the body, 1 person to carry the tail and up to 52 reliefs. Carrying the head of the dragon has always been considered a position of honour, being reserved for those with a long record of service and commitment to the Golden Dragon Museum and the Bendigo Chinese Association.
Dai Gum Loong requires 65 female and male carriers and is approximately 120 meters long. He is covered in 7,000 scales, 100,000 mirrors, 60,000 beads, and his head weighs 20kg.
YAR LOONG 夜龍
Yar Loong was made in Hong Kong by the renowned dragon and lion workshop Kum Yuk Lau 金玉樓 and made his first appearance in Bendigo in 1939. He is a special type of parade dragon, known as a sa loong 紗龍 (“gauze dragon”), which is designed to be lit up from inside like a lantern for night time processions. Yar Loong was badly damaged early in his career, but was preserved in the Chinese Association’s collection. Restoration work on the night dragon was undertaken by volunteers at the Museum in 1996 in a project that was funded by the Ys Men’s Club of Kangaroo Flat. This project was completed in 9 months. Yar Loong appeared in December 1996 for the opening of the Classical Chinese Gardens and has since reappeared on several occasions.
Yar Loong requires 22 male carriers and is 34 meters long.
GANSU LOONG 甘肅龍
(Dragon from Gansu)
Gansu Loong was donated by the people of Gansu province of China in March 1992, a gift to the Bendigo Chinese Association to mark 100 years of dragon parades in Bendigo. This dragon made its first appearance in the 1992 Easter Torchlight (night) Procession, and has since appeared many times in Bendigo. Tianshui, an important city in Gansu province, is Bendigo’s former Chinese sister city.
Gansu Loong requires 15 male carriers and is 18 meters long.
MING LOONG 明龍 & PING LOONG 平龍
(Bright & Peace Dragons)
A new pair of dragons made of eye catching golden material was acquired from Beijing for the Easter Celebrations of 2001. Ming (with the yellow beard) is the male partner of Bendigo’s first female dragon, Ping (sporting a green beard). Dragons have traditionally been carried by men, however with the new millennium it was decided that a lady dragon should be created to be carried by female members and supporters of Bendigo’s Chinese Association. So far Ming and Ping are the only matched pair amongst Bendigo’s dragons.
Ming and Ping are each 18 metres long and require 10 carriers per dragon. Males carry Ming Loong and females carry Ping Loong.
SIU LOCK LOONG 小樂龍
(Little Happy Dragon)
This little dragon was acquired from Beijing in 2001 especially for hands-on school workshops and associated activities. The Little Happy Dragon made his debut at the Bendigo Easter Procession of 2002, and, despite his gender, has long been carried by female volunteers.
Siu Lock Loong requires only 9 female carriers and is 16.5 meters long.
CHOI LOONG 賽龍
Choi Loong was acquired in December 2006, and was made in Fatshan (Foshan), China, the same city where old Loong had been made over a century before. Unlike the other dragons which are all either male or female, Choi Loong is considered to be androgynous and has always been carried by men and women together. In addition Choi Loong can also perform as a night dragon and glows under black light.
Choi Loong requires 10 female and male carriers and is 19 meters long.
GWONG LOONG 光龍
Gwong Loong was constructed by the Leung Sing 亮聲 workshop in Guangdong province and arrived in Bendigo shortly before Easter 2018. The Shining Dragon is carried by both men and women and appears in both the Easter Saturday Torchlight Procession (with the lights in his glowing green eyes switched on) and in the Easter Sunday Gala Parade. He is also used at other important festival events.
Gwong Loong requires 15 female and male carriers and is 35 metres long.
(Language note: The names of Bendigo’s dragons are given in their Cantonese pronunciation according to spelling conventions historically used amongst Bendigo’s Chinese community. An exception is the dragon Gansu Loong, who is known by the name of the Mandarin speaking province which gave him to Bendigo.)