Chinese New Year Parade – Chinatown – Melbourne CBD
I went into Melbourne’s Chinatown in Little Burke Street yesterday to try and capture some of the wonderful atmosphere in our multicultural City. Fortunately, it was relatively cool and mostly sunny – a good day to mingle with the thousands of families and friends who had the same idea.
The whole city was crowded, not just Chinatown.
While I am relatively tall at 5’6″, I was wishing I was more like 6 foot tall or had a box to stand on, as the crush of onlookers made it very hard to get photos without heads in the foreground.
What was even harder was…………. to get photos without hands held high (taking photos with mobile phones), slap bang in the middle of the frame! Per capita, Australians are one of the highest, if not the highest, mobile phone users in the world today. I’ve never taken a photo with my mobile phone, but I guess I could (if I knew how). For once, I didn’t feel in the least bit guilty for taking photos of people without their permission, ’cause everyone else was!
The first image starts with the crowd at the entrance to Chinatown in the city centre. It soon became apparent I needed to go up to the highest end of this street where the Dragon Parade would start. (When I arrived at this point in the street, I couldn’t see any sign of the actual Dragon which is very long and would require many people to hold it up).
The next photo is from the top end of this small, narrow street. As you can see by the crowd (and across the intersection in a multi-storey car park), people were in every spot available to watch the parade. I was wishing I had gone straight to the top end earlier, so I could have stood on a slightly higher vantage point located as part of one of the Chinese archways which stand on every street corner. Even 18″ off the ground level would have been enough to get a better view.
The Parade is made up of lots of smaller dragons and Chinese flags, silk symbols of animals, fish and good luck ‘puppets’ or masks. There’s also crowds of dignitaries from the Chinese Community and Melbourne City Council as well.
The image above shows the main Dragon’s Head.
Thank goodness I had the foresight to put my telephoto lens on the DSLR – there’s no way I could have got some of these close-ups with the 50mm prime lens. I was wedged so tightly in the crowd, I wouldn’t have been able to open my shoulder bag and change lenses at the last minute either.
I was mainly interested in photographing the largest Chinese Dragon, but a small Chinese girl held high on someone’s shoulders (her Father?) really stole the show. I couldn’t resist a few photos of her. I took about 6 photos and they all turned out well.
The image below is the shot when I first noticed her amongst the sea of heads. She was gorgeous and so cute.
She reminded me of the two years I spent living with a Chinese family in Melbourne looking after their two children, aged 1 and 3. That was more than twenty years ago, and they remain good friends to this day. I don’t see the ‘boys’ often these days as they are grown men and working, but I think of them often.
And thank goodness it was a relatively cool day – I’m sure there would have been people fainting if it had been hot.
The photo below is of the ‘tail’ of the Dragon.
Despite the crushing crowds, I think I probably took as good a photo as anyone could have got from ground level. I took many more photos than in this post, but let’s face it, there’s only so many photos one can put in a WordPress post and not make the viewing tedious. The scene below is after the parade was over and many families lingered around, some staying to have lunch in the many restaurants and cafes that line Chinatown. There was the occasional street side stall selling Chinese ‘Good Luck’ packets or charms.
I’m not quite sure of the significance of the lonely head of lettuce sitting on the seat, but it sat there looking like a wilted green ball of paper after a while.
…………and the Grand Finale……………thousands and thousands of fire crackers being let off all at once filling the air with smoke. It lasted quite a few minutes so maybe there was hundreds of thousands of fire crackers!
It was deafening and more than a few children put their fingers in their ears.
Hope you enjoyed the parade….