Chinese guardian lions (or Imperial guardian lions) have traditionally stood in front of important buildings (such as the museum) to provide powerful mythic protective benefits.
One of the commonalities we've encountered during our travels, is the existence of "Chinatowns" in most of the major cities visited. Melbourne's is the "...largest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world..." and one of the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere (established in 1854). Of course, we had to experience this one. The Australian Gold Rush of the 1850's brought many Chinese to this continent as indentured servants. By 1861, the Chinese made up at least seven percent of the population of the State of Vistoria. Established in 1985, The Museum of Chinese Australian History preserves the immigration stories and struggles of Australians of Chinese ancestry, as well as to serve as Chinatown's Visitors Center. It is home to the Dai Loong Association's Millenium Dragon, the longest Chinese dragon in the world (i.e. 276 feet long, and requiring at least 200 people to carry it - eight to carry its head alone). Going through this museum has given us a new found respect for some of the obstacles these folks experienced immigrating to a new land and life.
It would be hard to miss this entrance to Melbourne's Chinatown off the main drag (Swanston street) in the central business district.
In the heart of Chinatown is this archway that leads to the Museum of Chinese Australian History.
Perhaps one of THE iconic images of China are The Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an (replicated here).
Part of the story of Chinese immigration to Australia was the two month journey from Hong Kong to Melbourne...
...on ships that provided less than ideal traveling conditions.
Still, they were able to preserve much of their home-grown customs, such as this elaborately painted pedicab...
...and this shrine to deceased ancestors.
Most folks are aware of the costumed traditions of Chinese New Year (in modern Chinese, known as the "Spring Festival").
The Dai Loong Association's "Millenium Dragon" (on display in the Museum) is the longest dragon in the world (276 feet). Symbolicately, the face of the dragon dancing aggressively, along with the noise from loud drums, cymbals, and firecrackers, can drive off evil spirits.
It seemed to go on forever, as it wound around the ramp.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.