Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dai Gum San

Bendigo, Victoria

These words have been a long time coming, and speaking quite frankly, they’ve been the hardest to get down. For reasons that I can only describe as ‘spiritual intervention’, Bendigo was meant to be written about back in the beginning but I just couldn’t get the job done. After the third or fourth draft I decided to wait it out, thinking it best; it’s kinda like how Rowling chose to save Skeeter for Goblet of Fire instead of Philosopher’s Stone.

Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

No more than two hours north of Melbourne (along the Calder Highway which is quickest, but the V/Line is also good), the city town of Bendigo is a stop any weekender or long stint traveller should make. Long ago this was the case for the family and myself (on my earliest trip I was very young, back in the ‘lamb years’, and thought we were going to either Mexico or Indigo). However, in recent years it’s now become the only place in Australia where I can be assured of free accommodation. For those lacking this advantage, the caravan parks and motels aren’t too bad; there’s also a hostel somewhere in the mix.

Rosalind Park, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

What you’re more than like to find around these parts is a relaxed country atmosphere which isn’t too fast or too slow. Yes, a pub culture does exist and it can be really good. If the consumption of sustenance is your agenda, suss out The Hotel Shamrock or the Golden Square Hotel; some worthy food babies were conceived at their tables.

Rosalind Park, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

With many sights in close proximity, wandering time is a given for your visit. Rosalind Park has some premium turf I’d happily recommend you look into. When the conditions are right (stable weather is one advantage Bendigo will always have over Melbourne) you can easily find a spot on the grass, explore the gardens some bats call home or climb the old tower for a view of the entire town. It’s not too bad.

Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

Another stop to think about is Lake Weeroona, about a kilometre’s walk from Rosalind Park, which the younger people are like to appreciate very much. The playground can keep the kids busy and there’s the hotdog man who is most worthy of your time. Buns can be dry but the flavours are there. 

Lake Weeroona, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

Fun fact, an article was printed earlier this year about a freshwater crocodile being spotted in the lake. Said article brought out a crowd and its writer, April Wun, became a recognised individual.        

Whilst being a modern setting, Bendigo has maintained a lot of its past image. Where you’ll find something contemporary (the Bendigo Bank for example) a couple of extra remnants stating they’ve been around during the gold rush won’t be far away, such as the fountain and the gallery up the hill. Most of the footpaths have remained untainted by the new age. These are a few aspects I’ve always appreciated.  

Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014)

History still holds a prominent place to this day. The Visitor Centre has plenty to share about the gold era, there’s the Central Deborah Goldmine to look into and the Vintage Talking Tram Tours will keep many informed and provide some sightseeing opportunities (my localised niece and nephew love riding them), but it’s the oriental element that has always remained fresh in my mind. Should you come across a large magenta flower, this is where you’ll find these tourist favourites.

Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2014 and 2015)

During the gold rush Bendigo attracted a large population of Chinese miners (many of which originated from Canton Province), all of whom came in search of a fortune; this obviously worked out for the better since they called the place Dai Gum San; ‘the big gold mountain’. To this day Bendigo maintains a strong Chinese presence and that’s reflected by the Golden Dragon Museum, Yi Yuan Gardens and Guan Yin Temple. 

Yi Yuan Gardens, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2015)

I first came here during the lamb years and I say confidently that the kids of today will enjoy. The temple and gardens are both tranquil and the fresh air adds to the settings, as do the incense by the Buddha, but the museum itself is where a few bits and pieces will keep you informed and even entertained.

Guan Yin Temple, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2015)

I have a bad habit of mistaking mannequins for living people and said habit was taking off within these four walls.

Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2015)

Every year during the Easter Parade, the museum displays its most recognised piece, the dragon Sun Loong. Amongst the displays of history, more mannequins and a few other dragons and lions, Sun Loong ‘coils’ around all others dominantly. The objective for my last quick visit was for the many photo opportunities, but I was disappointed to find the light obstructing my images of the dragon’s head; it was still rewarding.
Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo, Victoria (taken 2015)

And so this is where I bring things to an end. This can be a weekend adventure or a pit stop in or on your way out of Melbourne; regardless, make the most of Bendigo. It knows how to leave an impression.
Links: www.bendigotourism.comwww.goldendragonmuseum.org        


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