BENDIGO’S Lake Weeroona turned on the charm for yesterday’s Australia Day celebrations.
The crowd basked in the sunshine as City of Greater Bendigo mayor Alec Sandner welcomed 19 new Australian citizens and presented awards to Citizen of the Year Robert “Cookie” Cook and Young Citizen of the Year Patrick Clark.
The official proceedings got under way about 10.30am when Alana Conway performed I Am Australian during the flag-raising ceremony.
Rotary Club of Bendigo Sandhurst president Wayne Gregson joined City of Greater Bendigo representatives, members of parliament and Australia Day ambassador Stephen Lindsay on stage to welcome the crowd.
“I’m a Bendigo Sandhurst Rotarian and we run this day on behalf on the City of Greater Bendigo and, therefore, on behalf of all of you,” Mr Gregson said.
“So this is a very long working day that started before dawn and will continue here until dusk.
“But volunteerism is just a magnificent element of Australian life and one of the things that makes Australia special.
“And today we celebrate the heroes known and unknown in Australian society, many of whom are volunteers themselves.”
Cr Sandner acknowledged the contributions Mr Cook and Mr Clark had made to the Bendigo community.
“These people are role models who go above and beyond to make our community a better place,” he said.
“We’re proud of them and their contributions to our community life.
“They provide inspiration and optimism for the future richness of our great country.”
Mr Cook said Australia Day was a great opportunity to celebrate the wonderful city of Bendigo.
“As John F Kennedy said, and I will modify, ‘Ask not what Bendigo can do for you, but what you can do for Bendigo,” he said.
Mr Clark said he was lucky to be part of a community so supportive and rich in culture.
“With so many opportunities for cultural, sporting, and in my opinion, most importantly academic enrichment, Bendigo is a truly unique and wonderful city,” he said.
Victorian National Senator Bridget McKenzie said Australians should be thankful for their rights and freedoms and welcomed Bendigo’s newest Australian citizens as they said their oaths.
“Most of us here had no say in being an Australian,” she said.
“We were born here and sometimes we take it for granted as a result.
“As non-indigenous Australians, the reality is that we all come from somewhere else … for me being here is a privilege as we welcome and recognise those who are here becoming citizens today.
“You have chosen us and we thank you for that.”