In 1902, members of Bendigo’s Chinese community took two dragons to Melbourne to perform in an Easter charity event at the Royal Exhibition Building.
On Sunday, 116 years later, history repeated itself when beloved imperial dragon Sun Loong and some 140 volunteers performed at the very same site as part of Lunar New Year celebrations.
Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack said the day went “really well” and she expected Sun Loong would be a crowd pleaser.
People eagerly watched on as the 100 metre-long dragon and lions emerged from the Royal Exhibition Building and paraded around the Carlton Gardens precinct, putting on a vibrant show.
They proved a hit with onlookers, many filming the event or trying to capture a selfie with Sun Loong. It is estimated there were just under 5000 people present.
Sun Loong has now gone on show for two weeks in the Melbourne Museum, the largest single object it has ever put on display.
Ms Jack said he was surrounded by people in the museum on Sunday afternoon after the parade, and again on Monday morning captured the attention of school groups and other visitors.
She said it was hoped Sun Loong’s presence in Melbourne would help drive visitors to the Bendigo area, particularly for the Easter Festival.
Sun Loong was accompanied by lions, including those of the Bendigo Chinese Association’s lion team.
Ahead of the parade, captain Kellie Miller said they were excited for the “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
“It’s really nice to be able to show off what we do down here,” Mrs Miller said.
One of Sun Loong’s head bearers, Dan Beck, was also excited to take part.
Mr Beck said it had been a big effort to deconstruct Sun Loong and put him back together in Melbourne: his scales were on one long strip of material on each side, as were his skirts and the beads.
His 29-kilogram head and tail tip detach completely, and his bamboo skeleton needs to be folded and unfolded. It took two days of work to build him dragon back up.
For Benjamin Roberts, the performance was extra special. He said he was waiting for the dragon, having grown up with him in Bendigo, when Doug Lougoon approached and asked if he’d like to have a go carrying him.
“It was a great experience and I’d gladly do it again,” Mr Roberts said.
Sun Loong wows a Melbourne crowd
It would be safe to say Bendigo’s beloved dragon Sun Loong has found some new fans outside his home city following a performance at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on Sunday.
The 100 metre-long dragon paraded in front of a crowd of hundreds as part of Lunar New Year celebrations, accompanied by the Bendigo Chinese Association’s lion team and lion dancers from the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne.
It was the first time the imperial dragon – the longest in the world - has made an appearance outside Bendigo since arriving in the city 48 years ago.
More than 140 volunteers were in Melbourne yesterday for the special event.
After a blessing inside the impressive Royal Exhibition Building, Sun Loong emerged into the courtyard for an Awakening Ceremony and then the parade, which were met with much excitement from those gathered.
Sun Loong retreated inside the Melbourne Museum after the 50-minute performance, where he will be on show for two weeks.