There’s no doubt Bendigo comes alive at Christmas.
The recent rally by the local community to stage the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rosalind Park highlighted a fantastic sense of festive spirit.
It has been a joy to wander through the business districts of central Victoria and see people purchasing their Christmas presents locally and supporting small businesses.
After all, such businesses underpin the economic wellbeing of regional Australia and are our largest employers.
There is much to look forward to in the days ahead. For many, being near to family, friends and loved ones is an important aspect of the festive season.
However, we must remember that this time of year is not easy for some and to make the effort to look out for people who might otherwise be on their own on Christmas Day.
Inevitably, our attention will soon turn to 2013, as we set new goals and make New Year’s resolutions we hope to keep.
At this point our summer holidays will be in full swing and I urge you to remain safe.
This time of the year often involves long hours travelling to visit relatives or return to an annual holiday campsite.
I urge you to respect your passengers and fellow road users when driving, and stick to the road rules and drive to the conditions.
If you are staying around water this holiday season, please remember to look before you leap and watch out for each other.
Above all, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2013.