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Bendigo

 

Home Up Ararat Ballarat Creswick Bendigo Tasmania Port Albert

Heritage Activities

Our organisation has been involved in a number of Heritage Activities, including:

bulletAdding value to the local community, specifically, the Golden Dragon Museum
bulletResearching into the social side of the Gold Rush days and beyond
bulletWorking with an independent scholar, Carol Holsworth, in the development of a Exhumation Index that will be widely accessible to serious scholars.

Local Community Work

Oral History is an important element of Social History.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Golden Dragon Museum had the foresight of conducting interviews of "old timers" of Bendigo, capturing on tape their recollections of an interesting time (post Federation).   Majority of these personalties have now passed on, but their vivid memory of growing up in Bendigo and their fond memories of Chinatown remained un-transcribed.   At the request of Carol Holsworth, Archivist of the Museum, our organisation transcribed the following tapes.  Readers interested in the content of the tape should contact the Golden Dragon Museum.

bulletATO1   - Olga Chew
bulletATO15 - Growing Up Chinese in Bendigo
bulletATO16 - George Lee Kim
bulletATO17 - Jean Kum Too
bulletATO18 - Betty Chew
bulletATO19 - Norma Fawdry
bulletATO20 - Ron Wee Hee
bulletATO22 - Jean Le Suey Regan

Social History Research

We are interested in understanding the challenges faced by the Chinese pioneers and their descendents.   For instance, their food, coping with the harsh environment, mixed marriages, role of the Chinese Associations, non-Chinese mothers or grandmothers who nurtured the family and much more are all interesting subjects.   

In a chance meeting at the Queen Victoria Market, we were fortunate enough to meet the grandson of George Lee Kim, who himself is the grandson of William Lee Kim, a colourful personality towards the end of the Gold Rush era.  The resulting conversations, and a tour of Bendigo with George gave us a fascinating insight into growing up in Bendigo.   We are in the process of finalising our paper on "Down Memory Lane with George Lee Kim".   When completed, we expect to publish excepts of this paper on our web site.   Watch this space.

Exhumation Index

As sojourners, it was always the dream of the Chinese pioneers to return to their village in China, where their families waited eagerly, in the hope that they would bring home riches from Golden Mountain.  Regrettably, not all Chinese pioneers were able to fulfil their dream.   Many died, some before their time.   If they could not return home bearing wealth, then at least they wanted to be buried in their home village, with their ancestors.  Recognising this point, at a minimum, the Chinese would usually have his name inscribed on his tombstone along with his birth date, date of death and importantly, his village of origin.  He would have left instructions with his close friends, family members (if available) or the Clan Association to have his remains exhumed and sent back to China for reinterment. 

During the Gold Rush days, the law would only allow exhumation after seven years of burial.   The process of "Picking Bones" (exhumation) for reburial in China is not unique to Australia.  This was also the case for the California goldfields and elsewhere.

In Australia, then as now, exhumation must follow a strict process of documentation.  It is from such documentation that the Exhumation Index was based on.  Independent Scholar, Carol Holsworth, was deeply involved in the research.   Our organisation converted the research into a database, which when released, will allow serious scholars to conduct searches simply and easily.  Until the Exhumation Index is released to the public, interested readers can contact Carol Holsworth or our organisation.