Big Walk to Golden Mountain

Big Walk to Golden Mountain was one of several national events marking the 160th year of Chinese migration to the goldfields.

This month-long project paid tribute to the 500km walking trek from Robe in South Australia to the central Victorian goldfields undertaken by gold seekers from the Guangdong region in China.

Devised by Punctum, Big Walk to Golden Mountain explored the contemporary influence of this historic migration landscape in our region using a breadth of art forms. It also represented the regional contribution to Asia TOPA, connecting it to the goldfields of Central Victoria.

PART 1: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (Chinese proverb)

Residency: Monday 27 February – Friday 3 March 2017 | Opening: Saturday March 4th March | Art Gallery of Ballarat – McCain Hall and Annexe Gallery

In ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, the works of Punctum’s artistic director Jude Anderson, film maker Miles Bennett, sound artist Jacques Soddell, performance and visual artist Eugenia Lim, visual artist Gabriele Brauer, and photographer Pia Johnson converge to create a contemporary interpretation and series of large-format Chinese scrolls or ‘Muyi’, traversing the expanse of the gallery, delineating pathways for temporary shelters created by Lim.

Brauer’s scrolls, Lim’s shelters and performance, Anderson, Bennett’s and Soddells’s films, and Johnson’s photographs draw from and respond to their walking of the Golden Mountain Walk in Central Victoria, Chinese walking practices, and some of the remnant and contemporary flora of the region’s landscape shaped by the passage of the thousands of Chinese migrants who traversed the Robe to Central Goldfields track.

The Chinese tradition of Ink Art scrolls dates from the 10th Century, where depictions of landscape revealed the mind and heart of the artists painting them and symbolised a shifting cultural and sometimes political relationship with land form and flora. Because the scrolls could be rolled and easily transported, they enabled owners a retreat to which they could return through periods of change and mobility.

Saturday  4 March  2017 | White Night Ballarat Forum 6pm | White Night Ballarat 7pm – 7am

The accumulated scrolls, films and installation inform conversations for a public Forum and an exhibition in the McCain Hall and Annexe, illuminated for White Night, after which they are carried across the central Goldfields to be part of an installation and performances in the Castlemaine State Festival.

Artists: Jude Anderson, Gabriele Brauer, Pia Johnson, Eugenia Lim, Miles Bennett, Jacques Soddell.

Part 2: Walking in the Footsteps

Saturday 18 March 2017 | Vaughan Springs Reserve | 3pm – 5pm

The ‘Golden Mountain Walk’ which is part of the Robe to central Goldfields trek culminates in the verdant surrounds of Vaughan Springs which were once the site for Chinese market gardens and paddy fields supplying the surrounding Goldfields with fresh produce.

In this easy Chinese Walking Practices workshop informed by Daoist practice, you’ll walk in the footsteps of thousands of Guangdong and learn the fundamentals of strengthening your spirit, skeleton, and stride as you glide around the Reserve with others. The workshop will culminate in a mass choreography and a refreshing afternoon tea at the Reserve.

Artists: Jude Anderson, Mary Thorpe, Georgia Symons, Megan Beckwith, Yimmin Chen.

Part 3: Interior View

Saturday 18 – Friday 24 March 2017

In China, the fig tree symbolises peace and abundance. A zen courtyard of quartz boulders is presided over by an ancient fig tree. The boulders evoke the hills defining Jaara country and the Goldfields of Mount Alexander Shire where quartz holds gold in its veins.

Walking this zen garden invites a contemplation of how migration landscapes speak to those crossing them. It represents the migration landscape shaped by thousands of Guangdong migrants from Robe to the local goldfields who most likely followed trading tracks first created by the people of the Dja Dja Wurrung over millennia. Through the courtyard is an outbuilding where seeds, flora and sounds harbour visions of the Golden Mountain Walk migration landscape. A sensory adventure into the strange and familiar awaits. The outbuilding swells with the scent of woods used for preserving and transporting goods, pomelos abundant with nutrition and symbolising ongoing life, cinnamon bark, and mulberry fruit… and softly flickers and resonates with shadows shaped by the prodigious crossing.

Saturday 25 March 2017 | 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm

Interior View culminates in a series of tea ceremonies conducted by Chinese tea mistress Celina Lei, each celebrating one of five elements, followed by a 6pm aperitif combining Australian botanicals with Chinese herbs and spices.

Saturday 25 March 2017 | 6pm

With an aperitif, join in the conversation with Charles Zhang, who walked from Robe to Central Victoria in 2013 and Eugenia Lim, a Punctum associated contemporary performer both of whom in their singular way, walk in the footsteps of their forbears.

Artists: Jude Anderson, Tanja Beer, Tara Gilbee, Celina Lei, Jacques Soddell, Jennifer Tran and guest Charles Zhang


This project is a collaboration between Punctum Inc, the Chinese Australian Cultural Society of Ballarat. It is assisted by Federation University for Part 1, Castlemaine State Festival for Part 2 and 3, and hosted by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, the Vaughan Springs Reserve Committee and Café re-PUBLIC.

It is supported by the Sidney Myer Fund and by Arts Centre Melbourne through Creative Victoria for Asia TOPA. Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne and is supported by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

Explore other Punctum works.