Bendigo’s newest dragon, Dai Gum Loong, is ready to be seen and heard for the first time this Easter during a magnificent display of Chinese culture.

The countdown is on until Bendigo’s newest Chinese dragon, Dai Gum Loong, makes his debut in the 2019 Bendigo Easter Festival Gala Parade.
Dai Gum Loong will headline a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle featuring a range of parading dragons to welcome him to his new home, including crowd favourite Sun Loong and Bendigo’s first-ever dragon, Loong.
It’s also a chance to bid farewell to Bendigo’s much-loved Sun Loong, who will retire from parading after this year and return to delight crowds only on special occasions.
Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack says this year’s parade would be a special moment in Bendigo’s history and continue a proud tradition of parading dragons at Easter.
“It’s been 49 years since Bendigo received a new dragon,” Anita says.
“We always knew Sun Loong was not going to last forever and realised he would need to be conserved and replaced, but neither conserving a dragon nor buying a new one is a cheap thing to do.
“We set an ambitious goal of asking the Bendigo community, fans of the Bendigo Easter Festival and the wider Chinese community to help us raise the $750,000 we needed to restore Sun Loong and purchase Dai Gum Loong.
“The Golden Dragon Museum was blown away by the generosity of people and local, state and federal governments for their support of the project, and we cannot thank everyone enough.
“We now have an amazing, 21st century dragon that is ready to wow crowds for many decades to come and Sun Loong has also been expertly preserved.
“We cannot imagine Easter without a dragon and I know our community cannot wait to meet Dai Gum Loong. A celebration such as this is rare, so residents and visitors can look forward to one of the best street parties Bendigo has ever seen when they watch this year’s gala parade.”
In May last year the City of Greater Bendigo and the Golden Dragon Museum awarded the contract to build Dai Gum Loong to celebrated Hong Kong dragon maker, Master Hui.
Anita discovered Master Hui via social media.
“Overseas and local lion teams were following him on social media and the photos were quite spectacular, highlighting his exceptional workmanship,” she says.
‘When I realised he could make dragons too, having recently completed a dragon for Chinese territory Macau, he became a clear choice to make Dai Gum Loong.
“Master Hui is part of three generations of dragon makers and works with his father and nephew. It is nice to see the traditional craft of dragon and lion making being handed down and an incredible eye for detail being shared.”
Dai Gum Loong is 125m long and features more than 7000 scales. When he parades, he will be accompanied by two gold and silver lions, which are designed to protect him and were also made by Master Hui.
While Dai Gum Loong was under construction, more than 1500 of Sun Loong’s scales were being cleaned and restored on Hong Kong’s Peng Chau Island by Master Ringo Leung.
Sun Loong’s head, neck and tail were restored locally in Bendigo and the restored scales were sewn back on with the help of the Embroiders’ Guild of Bendigo. Given Dai Gum Loong is a 21st century dragon, he will be also be a champion for gender equality.
Bendigo Chinese Association president Doug Lougoon says traditionally in Bendigo men carry male dragons and women have previously only carried small parading dragons designated for females, but Dai Gum Loong presented an opportunity to create a new tradition.
“Like Loong and Sun Loong before him, Dai Gum Loong will be male but the importance of supporting equality is not lost on the Bendigo Chinese Association and our members are pleased to welcome women to carry him,” Doug says.
“It important to us that Dai Gum Loong is used to support modern values and expectations.”
To properly introduce Dai Gum Loong, a special parade route has been planned, with Loong expected to lead Sun Loong and Night Dragon Yar Loong from the Queen Elizabeth Oval and meet Dai Gum Loong at the Alexandra Fountain.
Sun Loong will then lead Dai Gum Loong back up and down View Street to show him off to parade spectators, before re-joining the other two dragons. Loong will then lead all three dragons along Pall Mall and back to their home at the Golden Dragon Museum.
The Alexandra Fountain is where Loong met Sun Loong in 1970 for the first time, so the decision to introduce Sun Loong to Dai Gum Loong in the same location continues an important tradition.
Six other dragons and various Chinese lion teams from Bendigo and across Australia will also perform along the parade route in an extended Chinese cultural display.
For updates on the event visit www.bendigoeasterfestival.org.au