Asian Australian History

The Oldest Chinese Processional Dragon In Australia Can Be Found In Ballarat

With the 2023 Lunar New Year over welcoming the year of the Rabbit/Cat – it is good to continue the year with some history: yes – a “did you know” type thing.

  • “Loong” is a 126 years old processional dragon. It is the oldest one in Australia and the third oldest one of its kind in the world;
  • The dragon can be found in Sovereign Hill’s old Gold Museum in Ballarat, and it represents the rich Gold Rush and settlement history of the Chinese over a century ago;
  • There has been competition of the “Loong”, as Bendigo also has one, but University of Melbourne research has indicated that Bendigo’s “Loong” debuted in 1901, whilst the Ballarat sibling debuted in like 1898;
  • During the Gold Rush period of the mid 1800s, Ballarat’s Chinese population account for 1 in 4 and the “Loong” was a community purchased item and originated from Southern China;
  • It arrived in Sovereign Hill in 1897 and made its first performance in 1898;
  • Its final performance was during the 1960s during the Begonia Festival and was donated to the Ballarat Historical Society before making its permanent home in the Sovereign Hill Gold Museum in the 1970s;
Image via ABC News (screenshot)

Chinese Australian Cultural Society Ballarat president Charles Zhang told ABC News that “Loong”:

“…represents strength, bravery and walking together. You need to have many, many legs to carry Loong in a march,”

“One person or two, isn’t able to. You must have a whole community walking together.”

Want to check out “Loong” and the museum? The museum plans to organise some special tours, so if you are interested go to the SOVEREIGNHILL.COM.AU website to keep an eye out once its up!

Images via ABC News and Ballarat Historical Collection, Sovereign Hill

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