Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Sharing Dragons


Unit title:
Sharing Dragons

Year level:
Lower secondary

Key learning areas:
Studies of society and environment

Curriculum emphases:
From: Studies in Asia: A Statement for Australian Schools:
- World contributions by the people of Asia
- Likely implications of closer Asia-Australia relationships.

Duration:
Two to three 50 minute lessons

Description:
Students investigate the contribution of Chinese people to celebrations in Australia and explore why they have played such a prominent role. The Federation Parade in Melbourne in 1901, the Bendigo Easter Fair and the Centenary of Federation 'Our Nation On Parade' in Melbourne, 2001 are used as case studies. Students suggest how a group from their local area, if they had moved to live in another country, would contribute to their new community.

Teacher background material:
The following links provide an introduction and overview of the topics covered in this unit:
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'Melbourne's Chinatown - Little Bourke Street area' background information on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.

The Digitised Historic Documents database on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website provides newspaper reports on the Chinese procession held in honour of the opening of the first Commonwealth parliament in Melbourne, May 1901.
- document 1239: 'Argus report on the Chinese procession at the opening of the first Federal Parliament' and
- document 1621:'Description of the 1901 Chinese federation procession held in Melbourne'

Student outcomes:
Students will:
- recognise the contribution of Chinese communities to local civic celebrations, both in the past and the present
- identify elements of their own local culture that they could share with another community.

Materials required:
- Computer/s with access to the internet. Alternatively could use a cached version of the site, paste the database information into a spreadsheet program such as Excel or print relevant pages and copy onto overheads or handouts.
- Poster paper, coloured paints, material scraps etc for a collage.

Procedure:
Introduction:
When a group of 'outsiders' join a community, they sometimes make a big effort to fit in with and be accepted by their new community. The Chinese in Australia did this in a spectacular way through participating in processions, often featuring dragons. Read the material below about Chinese processions.

Why was there a procession in Melbourne in May, 1901?
Read the following background material on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website:
- 'processions'
- 'Opening of Federal Parliament and Royal Visit celebrations, 1901'

What was the name of the dragon from Bendigo in the Melbourne procession in May 1901?
- Click on each dragon on the 'dragons' section of the Golden Dragon Museum Bendigo website to find out which one was used in the 1901 procession.

Where does he live now? Why is he so special?

The Federation Procession, May 1901:
Provide students with handout 1: 'Chinese federation procession held in Melbourne, 1901' extracts from Age newspaper article from the time.
(This has some difficult language. Teachers will need to provide guidance.)

Read the description of the procession held in Melbourne on the 8th May, 1901. Find out the meanings of the words marked in bold print.

The article refers to Little Bourke Street as "Lillie Bulke stleet". Why? Would any of the major newspapers have done this in an article about the Centenary of Federation Parade in 2001? Why / why not?

From the description in the newspaper article, create a mural poster of the 1901 procession, using paints, collage or whatever materials you think suitable for such a spectacular procession. Divide the class into small groups, with each group constructing a section of the procession, which will then be joined together to make the mural.

Dragons in Bendigo:
Read the following:
- handout 2: 'Bendigo Dragons' extracts from 'Chinese of Bendigo and the power of procession', a paper by Raphael Beh, Curator of the Golden Dragon Museum Bendigo.
- 'Dragons' on the Golden Dragon Museum Bendigo website.
- 'Post-war Chinese Australians Oral History Project' by Diana Giese on the National Library of Australia website. Scroll down the page and only read the short section where Diana Giese interviews Russell Jack about the Bendigo dragon parade.

Answer the following questions:
- Why did the Chinese in Bendigo decide to join the annual Easter Fair Procession?
- When did they first participate and what did they do in the parade?
- When did a dragon first appear in the Easter Parade? Describe this dragon (name, size, special features.)
- Why did two dragons appear in 1970?
- How did the Chinese community of Bendigo commemorate their role in the 1901 procession in Melbourne?
- Imagine that you and a group of people from your local area have moved to live in a far away place, very different from where you live now. Your new home town is about to hold its annual festival. What contribution would your group make to the festival that would enable you to share your culture and educate your new community about your group?

Other Chinese celebrations.
Find out about festivals, parades or celebrations in or near your local area, that include a contribution from the Chinese community.

Author:
Karen Dowling

Handouts:
Download handout 1: 'Chinese federation procession held in Melbourne, 1901'. (This has some difficult language. Teachers will need to provide guidance.) (40kb word document)

Download handout 2: 'Bendigo Dragons' extracts from 'Chinese of Bendigo and the power of procession', a paper by Raphael Beh, Curator of the Golden Dragon Museum Bendigo (47kb word document).

Summary of websites used in this lesson:
Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website - http
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia - education/history.htm
- Historical backgrounds - education/about.htm

- Digitised Historic Documents database - docs_home.htm

Golden Dragon Museum Bendigo website - http://www.goldendragonmuseum.org/index.html

National Library of Australian website - http://www.nla.gov.au