Lighting up Chinatown

The City of Melbourne has begun installing 80 new permanent red and gold lanterns in Chinatown to brighten the precinct as more visitors return to the city. 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the lanterns would adorn Little Bourke St from Swanston St to Exhibition St. 

“Chinatown has been an important part of our city since the gold rush days of the 1850s, and Melbourne’s Chinatown is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world,” the Lord Mayor said.

“With the careful easing of restrictions, we’re finally able to come in and sit down for a bowl of piping hot noodles and plates of delicious dumplings. We want to extend that warm and welcoming atmosphere outside with these striking lanterns bathing the precinct in soft, warm light.”

The Lord Mayor said that the lanterns had been custom-made with laser-cut stainless steel that was powder-coated in “luminous red” paint. 

“While many Chinatown precincts around the world use cloth lanterns that need to be replaced regularly, these new lanterns have a life cycle of 25 years and will only require minor maintenance making them a much more sustainable and durable option,” she said. 

Prosperous city portfolio chair Cr Kevin Louey said extensive consultation had been sought with the Chinatown Precinct Association.

Chinatown Precinct Association president Danny Doon said, “Chinese restaurants constitute over 80 per cent of Melbourne Chinatown’s shopfront, so the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually closed down Chinatown for the past three months and is worst event in living memory for the precinct.”

“Nevertheless, the restaurateurs and traders are ready to bounce back. We can feel it happening week by week as the restrictions ease.”

While the state government was expected to allow 50 patrons at a time inside businesses and venues such as restaurants on June 22, a recent spike in COVID-19 cases has meant that the limit of 20 will remain pending further review on July 12 •

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