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24 November 2008
ENG LIM: The Dragon ushers in prosperity, health wealth to everybody. The Chinese people worship and pray to the Dragon because the Dragon brings in, as I said, prosperity, health and wealth. That means it controls the elements of the earth. So it controls like the rain and the sun, and like we badly need the rain so we'd better pray hard today to the Dragon and ask for rain.
We pray to the Keeper God because the Keeper God has been keeping the Dragon safe whilst the Dragon is resting and sleeping in his home.
The Lion will awaken the Dragon because the Dragon is supposed to be asleep. The Lion wards away all evil and then the Dragon usher in all this good luck, you know, good health to all the people in Melbourne and around the world.
LEN QUON: I love my heritage. I'm Australian born, yes. I'm third generation Chinese. I've retired from underneath there. I've carried that for long enough and I'm too old. So I get the teaser and I don't know, I think that's worse, because I don't get any relief.
It will be a long time before I stop. It's my life. Yes, I love it. It's a passion.
Today I've got my daughter and my granddaughters. They're there taking part and also my son in law.
MARK WANG: The Chinese have been parading in Little Bourke St with Dragons since the early 1900s. In fact, we have photographs of the Dragon parading down Swanston St in 1901 when the Duke of York came to Australia for Federation.
And the Chinese have had this tradition for many years so it's very much part of Melbourne.
ENG LIM: The Millennium Big Dragon is the world's largest and is heavy. We need eight people even to carry the Dragon, eight.
IAN BANKS: Well, I am 78 years young and this is my third stint at this and last year I was the 18th pair of feet.
BERNADETTE NUNN: So what leads you now to, in your late 70s, starting in the Dragon?
IAN BANKS: Mainly I think because I had a Chinese neighbour and I taught her English and in the process of doing that I become involved in this. You've got to keep your mind on the job otherwise the Dragon has a very big sag in the middle.
It will be difficult but not impossible.
BERNADETTE NUNN: How long do you think you'll last?
IAN BANKS: Well, judging from the fact that this is my third time, on the previous two occasions I went right through and as far as I'm concerned that's what I'm going to do today.
BERNADETTE NUNN: What's it like being under the Dragon?
IAN BANKS: It's very, very hot underneath there. You don't see anything except the guy in front of you. It gets very, very hot. We need to have a lot of relief people, as many as we can get.
MAN 1: It's hard. It's very heavy, it's heavy. It's just heavy and it's hot. But it's good fun to be part of it and it's good for the community. And it's good fun.
ENG LIM: Even the Australians, they are all carrying the Dragon.
WOMAN: Why have we come today? Because my son is holding up the head.
BERNADETTE NUNN: Is he Chinese?
WOMAN 1: No, he's not.
MAN 2: The fact that it isn't just Chinese people in the parade is part of modern Melbourne. I think it shows that the Chinese community is really part of Melbourne, part of the heart of Melbourne.
WOMAN 2: He's 2.
BERNADETTE NUNN: Why did you bring him today?
WOMAN 2: Because he loves the Dragons.
BERNADETTE NUNN: Why do you think Australians with no Chinese history are so keen to be involved?
ENG LIM: Perhaps because they believe in luck because the Dragon, it does bring you luck. Perhaps it's a culture to learn and we mix well in Australia. We do mix very well, all the different ethnic communities.
BERNADETTE NUNN: Why did you touch the Dragon?
MAN 3: For luck.
WOMAN 3: The kids in particular wanted to see Chinse Dragons, that's why we brought down.
BERNADETTE NUNN: Did you touch it?
BERNADETTE NUNN: Why?
GIRL: Because… I don't know.
MARK WANG: It's a symbol of our community. Actually, it's China's national symbol and having a Dragon come out means a lot to Chinese people. It sort of heralds the New Year, brings good luck and people just want to touch it because it's so lucky.
IAN BANKS: When you've got something as exciting as this to be part of, you've no idea what it's like to look out under the Dragon at the expression on the children's faces. Their eyes bulge out. It's just a great experience for them.