Conservatory, Rosalind Park
I was on my way to the see the dragons and the Conservatory was along the way. Naturally, I went to have a look though I didn't realised that I was at part of the Rosalind Park. This is a public park and open at all hours. However the Conservatory is only open from 8 am to sunset. The conservatory building was erected in 1897.
Chinese Golden Dragon Museum
One of my many surprise findings was Bendigo was dubbed "Dai Gum San" (this is pronounced in Cantonese) meaning "the big gold mountain". The reason why it has a Cantonese nickname was because back in the 1850's the majority of Chinese who came to the goldfields were originated from the Canton Province, from See Yap and Sam Yap surrounding the Pearl River Delta.
See Yap (Siyi 四邑) means four counties and it refers to the four former counties of San Wei (mandarin: Xinhui 新会), Toi Shan (Taishan 台山), Hoi Ping (Kaping 开平) and Yian Ping (Enping 恩平). Sam Yap (Sanyi 三邑) consisted of Nam Hoi (Nanhai 南海), Poon Yee (Panyu 番禺), Soon Tuk (Shunde 顺德)
Not in bracket are pronunciation in Cantonese, in bracket in Mandarin.
If you have watched enough HK drama, they referred to older overseas Chinese foreigners who had made a fortune and returned home as "Kam/Gum San Ah Pak" (金山阿伯). So the thought of me actually being in "Gum San" just made me grinning to myself, even more so when one of my friend grew up in Bendigo. Grin.
The other surprise was seeing the word Toi Shan in the museum and there's even a Chinese takeaway restaurant of the same name.
Cantonese is fairly common in Malaysia but not so much Taishanese. My ancestors were originated from Toishan and my father spoke fluent Taishanese. I regret that I can hardly utter a proper sentence of Taishanese though I could understand it well if someone speaks of the dialect. It's one of those dialect that I could speak when I was little as I used to speak to my grandmother long time ago but due to lack of practice, it falls under the "understand-if-spoke-to-but-can't-reply-in-the-same-dialect" category.
The main attraction in this museum is of course, dragons. It is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9.30 am - 5.00 pm and entrance fee is $11.
Meet Sun Loong. His body stretches around the Sun Loong Gallery.
These are not just any dragons. The two main dragons are named Loong and Sun Loong (both pronounced in Cantonese) meaning Dragon and New Dragon respectively.
Loong is the world's oldest Imperial dragon from the 19th century and replaced by Sun Loong. Sun Loong is the world's longest Imperial dragon. Sun Loong is newer than Loong but it arrived in Bendigo in 1970 after Loong's retirement.
Sun Loong's head weighs 29 kg and runs about 100 metres long. His head is more than two metres high and covered by 6,000 silk scales. Each scale was decorated with 23 tiny hand-cut mirrors. So there were over 90,000 mirrors on it's body.
There are other exhibits in the museum and the place kept me occupied for some time.
I even checked out the smallish gift shop on my way out to the Yi Yuan Garden.
Cloisonne is also a surprise find. I didn't think I would see this outside of China. My sis and I actually was hoping to be able to find some cloisonne display when we were in China but unsuccessful. Mostly because we didn't really know where to look. Lo and behold it is right in in Bendigo. I would've bought it for sis if they have a tortoise in stock.
Yi Yuan Garden
Entrance fee of $11 includes entrance to this garden. Yi Yuan Garden closes earlier compared to the museum at 4.30 pm.
According the Golden Dragon's website, Yi Yuan's architecture and construction was influenced by gardens in Summer Palace in Beijing.
Seriously, this is way beyond my imagination. I have never thought to see a Chinese garden in Bendigo. I suppose I was probably skewed after knowing my friend especially since we joked that he hardly eat other cuisine except from his usual three veges and meat meal. We don't even have a garden like this in Melbourne. =="
By the way, you won't miss this museum as once you reached the compound, you'll be greeted by some giant size flowers.
That was my last stop before I make my way back to the railway station. Oh, if it interest you, there's a Science and Discovery Centre opposite Bendigo Railway Station.
Maybe I should do another day trip to see more of Victoria. Bendigo surprised me, maybe so will other places in Victoria :)
Side note: Having lots of food at home is very tempting eh...