Bendigo Easter Festival 2017
April 27, 2017

For our local regional city, Bendigo, Easter means the Bendigo Easter Festival and an essential feature of the festival is………..dragons. Chinese dragons to be exact.

The Easter Festival began as the Bendigo Easter Fair in 1871. The highlight of the Fair was the Gala Parade. The local Chinese community first participated in the parade in 1879 and in 1892 provided a dragon for the parade….thus began a long standing tradition.

I  headed up to Bendigo Easter Sunday to observe the celebrations outside the Golden Dragon Museum as the Chinese cultural component of the Festival prepared to join the parade.

I arrived there early so I could be in the front row behind the barriers.

The initial proceedings were colourful but relatively low key.

Banners which are stored inside the museum were brought out and participants stood around until they were given the signal to move off

Helllllooooo…….I believe that is Lisa Chesters, Federal Member of Parliament for Bendigo.

The men with the bright red sleeves are part of the fireworks brigade.

The pace really began to pick up when the lion dancing troupes arrived. These young people are from the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne.

Alert!! Who is coming??????

This is who is coming!

By now the fire crackers are being let off, the drums are beating and the cymbals are clashing. The noise is tremendous!

This is one of the dragons which emerged to participate in the Gala Parade.

The excitement is building and the lion dancing troupes form a guard of honour.

The lions are bored…..waiting, waiting, waiting.

Attention!…He’s coming!

Yes, He is coming!

AND HERE HE IS!!!!!…..This is what the fuss is all about  – Sun Loong, the world’s longest, imperial, processional dragon.

The air becomes misty with the smoke from all the firecrackers which crackle on his appearance.

Sun Loong goes off to join the Gala Parade where he is undoubtedly the star.

Sun Loong has one of the cushiest jobs in the world. He snoozes all year to be woken up the day before the parade. The Easter parade is his sole outing for the year.

There is plenty to see when the marchers return to the museum.

The Chinese lions continue to protect the dragons as they return.

This lion troupe in their hot, tropical colours came all the way from Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Sun Loong is the last to return to the museum. He enters tail first.

Sun Loong is given a tremendous send off as he bids farewell for another year.

The celebrations continued after Sun Loong disappeared…… the lions demonstrating their athleticism. The performance concluded with the lions rearing right up tall, parading in a tight circle.

There are no photographs, I was too busy clapping and cheering. I loved every minute of it.

Sun Loong retires in 2018. Bendigo is raising funds so his successor, Dai Gum Loong, can be made.

This video provides more information about Bendigo’s dragons.

Frogmore Revisited 2017
April 14, 2017

We have been having gorgeous autumn weather in Castlemaine recently – mild temperatures, warm sunshine and calm days. It was even gorgeous on the Great Dividing Range on Wednesday the 12th of April when a friend and I visited Frogmore Nursery and Gardens near Newbury.

The nursery specialises in rare and unusual bulbs and perennials. The gardens are bliss for flower lovers with an abundance of flowering plants suited to a cool, moist climate and rich volcanic soils. They are only open to the public for a few days in autumn.

I last visited Frogmore in 2014 so I was interested to see how the gardens looked on my second visit.

Zinnias are rarely seen in gardens.

 

Frogmore’s owner was grateful for the fine day as it had been raining since the weekend. He was worried the blooms would begin to rot if they couldn’t dry out.

 

 

 

 

There are lovely views across the garden to the Wombat Forest.

 

 

Some shrubs were in full autumn finery.

 

Shiny, red berries glowed like jewels in the autumn  sunshine.

 

The prairie garden was looking particularly splendid. Only a few days  before in driving rain and winds, the grasses were lying flat. On Wednesday, they were looking their best.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Frogmore again. It is quite different from other open gardens I visit in Central Victoria. The prairie garden is unique for this area.

 

 

 

Andersons’ Mill Festival, Smeaton
April 9, 2017

Unlike today which is cold and wet, Sunday, the 2nd of April was cool and dry – a good day to attend the Anderson’s Mill Food, Wine and Music Festival in Smeaton.

Situated in a valley on the banks of Birch’s Creek, the Mill is hidden from view by those travelling along the Creswick Smeaton Road. The 5 storey blue stone building with its iron water wheel was built by the Anderson brothers in 1861. The brothers arrived on the goldfields from Scotland in 1851 and were successful as diggers. They went on to become saw millers supplying the gold industry and built the Mill to take advantage of the local agricultural and population boom.

The Anderson family operated the Mill for almost 100 years until it closed in 1959. The Mill remained empty until it was purchased by the Victorian State Government in 1987 when restoration work began. The Mill is currently listed on the National Estates Register of the Australian Heritage Commission.

The Anderson’s Mill Festival is very much a local community event with Parks Victoria and organisations such as the Hepburn Shire Council and Newlyn Football/Netball Club working together.

 

On the day of the Festival, the ground and first floors of the Mill were open to the public.

 

 

This is the top of the water wheel as seen from the first floor………

……..and this is the wheel at ground level. The wheel was operating on the day although it was not driving anything.

The remains of the grind stones. The Mill processed wheat for flour and also processed oats in an oven.

Most of the Mill’s machinery was sold for scrap when it closed.

 

The wood chop demonstration was impressive to watch – not for the faint hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

This colourful steam engine was worth a second look………

………as was this lovely Clydesdale.

 

 

Guildford Landscape
January 30, 2017

Recently, on a rare, cool and breezy day, I drove to the top of a hill which gives views of the township of Guildford and the surrounding countryside.

I spent some time making this charcoal drawing of the country whilst Katie sniffed about at the foot of the lookout.

Satisfied with my drawing, we proceeded to Guildford where I lunched in the cafe in the old general store – pumpkin and blue cheese tart – Yum, Yum!

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Fryerstown Cemetery
January 4, 2017

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Fryerstown is another former booming gold town whose glory days are behind it. Once home to 15,000 people and boasting 25 hotels and 5 breweries, it is now a quiet township of approximately 320 people.

As with other towns in the district, the cemetery is an interesting place to wander around.

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There are the old and modern graves.

 

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Old head stones tell the story of the pioneer families.

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New head stones have been erected by a current generation of Australians to honour their pioneering ancestors.

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These grave sites are distinguished by distinctive images, words and ornamentation.

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