My time back in Australia so far has been spent mostly catching up with family in my home state of Victoria. It has been great to see everyone after being away for so long. I have also spent a great few days visiting my Granny in the rural city of Bendigo – the 20th largest city in Australia with a population of about 90,000. Bendigo is particularly famous for being a major gold rush town in the 1850’s, as such it has many stately buildings (always a good way to determine which colonial era towns had gold).
Gold was first discovered around Bendigo in 1851 and over 20 million ounces of gold were removed from there making it the largest producing goldfield in 19th century Australia. In the 1850’s places like Bendigo helped make the then colony of Victoria the gold capital of the British Empire (the federation of various colonies to create the nation of Australia did not occur until 1901).
The gold rush was pretty much over by the 1930’s but Bendigo has always remained an important city in country Victoria (a base for tourism, manufacturing, banking and a service and local government centre for surrounding country areas). So while I was there I travelled around and had a look at some of my old haunts (I lived and went to school for a while there back in the day). Apart from the impressive old buildings along the major street known as Pall Mall, a highlight in Bendigo at this time of year (Spring down under) is the spectacular tulip gardens.
I didn’t go there this visit, but the Golden Dragon Museum which among many exhibits holds the oldest and also the longest Chinese dragons in the world and Chinese Gardens are also well worth a visit in Bendigo. When I was last there in 2009 I saw the oldest dragon“Loong” which is 120 years old (its first appearance was 1892 and it was retired from parades in 1970. Apparently the Chinese have tried to get this one back as it is the only example of a dragon from the last Chinese Empire!) plus “Sun Loong” the longest dragon at 100 metres which is displayed each year in the Bendigo Easter Parade (it was made in Hong Kong in 1969). Chinese heritage remains strong in this city and dates back to the gold rush era.