Premier Daniel Andrews, craftsman Master Hui and museum general manager Anita Jack.

THE community campaign for a new imperial dragon has taken a huge step forward, following the signing of a contract in Hong Kong on Wednesday for the production of 120-metre-long Dai Gum Loong.

The contract with the Golden Dragon Museum, City of Greater Bendigo and renowned craftsman Master Hui was signed in the presence of Victorian premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday.

Golden Dragon Museum general manager Anita Jack said Dai Gum Loong would have about 6500 scales, and was expected to be completed and shipped to Bendigo in time for next year’s Easter celebrations.

“Master Hui is part of three generations of dragon makers and works with his father and nephew. It is nice to see the craft of dragon and lion making being handed down and an incredible eye for detail being shared,” she said.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for the museum, the city and Master Hui, as the creation of a new imperial dragon only happens every 50 to 100 years.

“I am in regular contact with Master Hui and he has been to Bendigo and the museum to see Sun Loong and Loong, so he understands the quality of work required.

He is a highly regarded dragon maker, so I have every confidence he will meet our expectations.”

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said she looked forward to welcoming Dai Gum Loong to Bendigo, and said the contract signing was an exciting part of the journey to obtaining a new imperial dragon.

“We cannot imagine Easter without a dragon and I know our community cannot wait to meet Dai Gum Loong,” Cr O’Rourke said.

The city and Golden Dragon Museum continue to search for a dragon maker who is able to conserve Sun Loong’s scales.

This work will be done in Hong Kong or China, where the skill set exists, and Master Hui is expected to be too busy making Dai Gum Loong to do this work.

Sun Loong’s head, neck, tail and frame will be conserved locally.

Dai Gum Loong will be an asset of the City of Greater Bendigo, however the Bendigo Chinese Association will be the cultural custodian of the dragon and he will be on display at the Golden Dragon Museum when not parading.

Premier Andrews said as the longest dragon in the world, Dai Gum Loong will attract visitors, boost local jobs and ensure the Chinese community’s proud history in Bendigo lives on.

“Bendigo has been a vibrant home for the Chinese community for more than 150 years. There’s no better way to celebrate this heritage than by helping to build and bring Bendigo’s newest dragon home,” he said.

The state and federal governments have each contributed $250,000 towards Dai Gum Loong, while the City of Greater Bendigo has chipped in $100,000, with substantial donations from the private sector and the community making up the balance of the project’s costs.

Virgin Airlines supremo Sir Richard Branson has agreed to freight Dai Gum Loong to Australia free of charge.