Uniting the People
Uniting the People
Please contact the Bendigo Chinese AssociationCopyright
Bendigo Chinese Association
In this video the unique nature of the relationship between the Chinese and European communities in Bendigo in the late 1900s and early twentieth is discussed, focusing on the spirit of cooperation that existed.
The Chinese arrived in Bendigo, Victoria, during the 1850s gold rush. In 1854, it was estimated that over 4,000 Chinese were on the gold fields. In 1871, the Chinese community joined the Bendigo Easter Fair and Procession (which began in 1869) to assist fundraising for charity. Providing music, theatre and acrobatic displays, the Chinese section of the Procession soon became the main attraction.
This remarkable collection of 19th Century processional regalia has been preserved by the Chinese community in Bendigo and is held in the Golden Dragon Museum. It is not only a collection of world significance but, importantly, it contextualises and preserves the living heritage of both Victoria and China through the objects and through the ceremonies that continue to be practised today.
Bendigo is quite different to what else was happening around Australia at that time.
There's interaction, participation and also camaraderie and a partnership is happening between the Chinese and the Europeans.
[Black-and-white photograph of bannermen parading]
You see photographs of these bannermen and generals and you're looking at the faces and there's Chinese-Chinese and what looks maybe half-Chinese, and then you see completely European men carrying these banners and it shows that there was not just admiration for the costumes in regards to a spectacle, but there's also the support and the assistance of the Europeans here in Bendigo to make sure that regalia got out and was paraded every Easter.
[Anita Jack, Treasurer: Bendigo Chinese Association, General Manager: Golden Dragon Museum]
So it's quite unlike what the Government is telling them in regards to the anti-Chinese legislation, and then in 1901, when you started to see the White Australia policy and yet we see more Europeans probably helping then than ever before.
[Black-and-white photograph of people posing with banners]
It seems to be something that's really united the town, it's really united the people.
[Dennis O'Hoy, Member: Bendigo Chinese Association]
For instance, one of my uncles had gone to China and married a Chinese-American lady and he wanted to bring the two children to Bendigo for their education.
[Black-and-white photograph of two children]
He was born and raised here. He was an Australian citizen and the Australian Government of the day said, 'No.'
[Newspaper: article on White Australia Policy]
And it was wonderful - you had the Bendigo Advertiser writing articles in support of my uncle Kim Lan O'Hoy and the heading was 'This policy of discrimination is unfair and unjust.'
[Black-and-white photograph of a young Chinese man]
So you had the media in Bendigo advocating that the O'Hoy family were respected and they should be able to bring their children out here for an education. This was in 1913.
[Black-and-white photograph of Easter parade]
The whole idea of the procession really was to raise money but there was the benefit that the people realised the Chinese community was contributing to the culture and the charities of Bendigo.
[Poster of 'Bendigo Easter Fair April 1919' with the letter to the Chinese residents]
I wouldn't say the Chinese deliberately did it as a political... but it grew that way, that people appreciated it.