Council election candidates

Forgive us if we’re wrong but it seems like there are HEAPS of new candidates for the upcoming City of Greater Bendigo council elections on Saturday 22 October 2016. The Bendigo Weekly has estimated 26 candidates, but we only know of 18 19 21 24 so far…

Here are the candidates (in alphabetical order, per ward):

Eppalock Ward

  • Cr Rod Campbell is a retired civil engineer. He has held senior engineering and planning roles with the former South Barwon, Myrtleford and Marong municipalities. Cr Campbell is a Life Member of The Institution of Engineers and has a Graduate Membership of the AICD and owned his own consulting business.
    Cr Campbell has worked with both urban and rural communities across Victoria in development and planning, design and road construction, buildings and sporting infrastructure.
    Rod was raised on the land and, along with his wife Alison has spent the past 30 years living and raising his family in Bendigo. Cr Campbell is a past President of the Apex Club of Myrtleford. Included in his interests are history, heritage, the arts, collectables, all things mechanical and meeting people from all walks of life.
    Having been confined to a wheelchair since 2010 his wife, Alison, supports him as a carer in all his Council duties.
  • Colin Carrington – article here
  • Nick Cugura – article here
  • George Flack – article here
  • Suzie Hawkearticle here
  • Cr Helen Leach holds an Advanced Diploma of Nursing, Certificates in Aged Care and Disability, and Health and Community Care and Business.
    After being a registered nurse for over 16 years, Cr Leach moved into hotel management in Mansfield for 10 years before returning to part-time care work with the CoGB in Aged and Disability Services.
    Cr Leach is actively involved in the community through volunteering. She has worked for St Vincent de Paul for over 24 years as well as helping out at Bethlehem Home for the Aged and as a volunteer fundraising assistant for the Gianna Centre among other organisations.
    Outside of Council duties, Cr Leach enjoys walking her dog, swimming, music and spending time with her husband, four children and grandchildren.
  • Brenton Johnson – “Every single day I’m doing everything in my power to make sure every Bendigo citizen is better off today, than they were yesterday.”
  • Margaret O’Rourke was born and raised in Bendigo and attended Holy Rosary Primary School and St Mary’s College Bendigo, now Catholic College. Over a 30 year management career with Telstra, Marg worked all over Australia before returning to her home town as a General Manager with Telstra Countrywide.

    Marg’s experience now extends to running her own consulting business. Her work in telecommunications and economic development involves leading the Aspire Project and contributing to various regional boards. She also has experience in small business with her husband Ray.
    Ray and Marg live in Junortoun with their daughters. They enjoy their girls’ sporting and school activities and passionately following Geelong Football Club.

  • Local builder and businessman Geoff Stephens believes sincere community consultation, transparency of council processes and accountable, informed decision making are essential to be truly representative. More here from the Bendigo Weekly. and Bendigo Addy.
  • Cr Mark Weragoda was born in Sri-Lanka and migrated to Australia with his parents and siblings in 1975. He attended Castlemaine High School before completing his education at the Bendigo College of Advanced Education. He and Leonie have two children. Since 1981 he has operated a signwriting business, Mark Weragoda Signs. Cr Weragoda joined the Rotary Club of Bendigo Sandhurst in 1991 and served as President of the club in 2000-2001 and various other positions.
    In 2005, he was the recipient of a Paul Harris Fellow – an award made to individual Rotarians who have given significantly through their involvement in their community. In 2014, he was awarded by Rotary District 9800 a Sapphire Paul Harris Fellow for his commitment and service on a District level.
    Cr Weragoda is a member of the Bendigo Jockey Club and a Board Member of the Gallic Club.
  • Yvonne Wrigglesworth is President of Axedale Our Town – Our Future, Chair of Community Leadership Loddon Murray, a Board Director of the Strathfieldsaye and District Community Enterprise and a committee member of the Strathfieldsaye Storm Junior Football Club.
    Yvonne is a member of the AICD and works as the Director of Strategy, Planning & Governance at Bendigo Health and is married to Cameron with two children.
    There are heaps of articles about Yvonne here.

Lockwood Ward

  • Jennifer Alden – article here.
  • We’re not sure whether Cr Elise Chapman is running for Council this term.
  • Matt Emond will be working hard to ensure that the City of Greater Bendigo puts community first. – article here.
  • Our current Mayor, Rod Fyffe is a retired teacher who taught mathematics, economics, accounting, geology, industry and enterprise and classical societies at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.In 2013, he was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Cr Fyffe was a Councillor with the former City of Bendigo from 1983 to 1994 and was first elected to the City of Greater Bendigo in 1996.
  • Cr Barry Lyons is a retired businessman who moved to Kangaroo Flat in 1981 and established strong links to the local community.Cr Lyons served as a Councillor with the former Shire of Romsey in the 1970s.
    He is a family man, married to Betty and has five children and 11 grandchildren. He is the former licensee of Kangaroo Flat’s Windermere Hotel, a family business he owned and operated for 23 years.
    Cr Lyons is a long term supporter and sponsor of local sport, including Kangaroo Flat Football/Netball and Cricket Clubs. He served as President of the Kangaroo Flat Lions Club and as a board member of the Kangaroo Flat Community Health Centre.
  • Jan Pagliaro has worked in aged care and in the disability sector and said if elected, her focus would be to protect people in both these groups. “I will strongly advocate for the most disadvantaged in our community.”
  • Vaughan Williams

Whipstick Ward

  • Cr Peter Cox lives in California Gully and has worked for Future Employment Opportunities for 25 years. He was instrumental in establishing the Eaglehawk Enterprise Park, now known as Workplace Eaglehawk, and the Eaglehawk Recycle Shop. He has a tertiary qualification in Community Development and is a trained mediator and facilitator. Cr Cox also served as a Councillor with the former City of Hawthorn during the 1970s and has worked with young people to pioneer changes to legislation to reduce road deaths. In 2005 he was named Social Ventures Australia’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year and in 2008 received the Eaglehawk Community Service Award. In 2013 Cr Cox received Rotary’s highest individual Award, the Paul Harris Fellow.
  • Michelle Goldsmith – article here
  • Wayne Gregson – article here
  • Andrea Metcalfe
  • Malcolm Pethybridge is a self-funded retire who has worked in and around Bendigo in the engineering industry, all his working life and has also owned and ran a farm successfully. Malcolm will talk to the people first and research projects in person not just on google earth and push the citizens views of Bendigo, Whipstick Ward and the needs of the municipality of Bendigo.
  • Thomas Prince wants to help Bendigo move forward in a positive direction through:
    Making a stand on unacceptable social behaviours including violence in the CBD and drug and alcohol fuelled violence, encouraging healthy lifestyles and supporting the CoGB residents wellbeing though proactive use of community spaces and further development of existing community hubs. Also, by providing better avenues to keep the community connected by improving the roads in our the remote communities and upgrading high risk intersections and better communication between the Council and its constituents
  • Cr James Williams has lived and worked for 28 years as a self-employed farmer in Drummartin where he was one of three directors that built a company specialising in the growing and sale of fodder to the domestic and export markets. Now retired, he and his wife live in Bendigo.
    Cr Williams also served as a Councillor with the former Shire of Huntly and in 1999 won the Hanslow Cup, an innovation and Landcare award for primary producers. Cr Williams is a graduate of the AICD and was a founding member of the Northern United Forestry Group and the Bendigo Creek Floodplain group.

Not sure what ward you’re in? Check the ward maps here or more info from the VEC here.

Are missing someone or some info, or do we need to link to an article or website? Let us know or comment below.

Updated 24 August 2016


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Bendigo Burger Adventures – Part II

13879319_10154053062684039_1334303757256646287_n (1)by Paul Waldron

The quest continues to find ‘Bendigo’s best sub $10 burger’, supporting Bendigo’s vast array of independent food localities (no franchises allowed as a part of my quest).

Sunday night’s adventure led me to the Daggy Varandah. I ordered ‘the verandah’ complete with all the trimmings (iceberg lettuce, tomato, beetroot, onion, beef patty, pineapple and cheese). A larger-than-life burger, it is not for the faint-handed (yes, handed. Mouth and heart also appropriate, though). Well cooked and the epitome of fresh, in a good soft bun. What sets this burger apart is their special mayo – slightly spicy slightly sweet, like any family recipe will have eaters wondering about the secrets within.

Coming in at $9, the addition of a $2 serve of chips will require more than that blue note burning a hole in your pocket, but well worthwhile as the chips are crisp, and hot – generous with chicken salt (if like me, you’re into that), so no need to ask for extra or peer over the stainless steel countertops to see if they’re putting enough on.

The three serviettes the burger came with were well used and had me reaching for a fourth by the end of it, after already licking the fingers.

Where shall my quest take me next?

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Local theatre, that won’t let you down…

A new theatre production holds a mirror up to the real life of new parents, and asks “Why doesn’t anybody tell you what it is going to be really like?

The Let-Down Reflex is an original theatre production that explores how parents constantly find their reality falls short of society’s unfairly optimistic expectations surrounding pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenthood.


The Let-Down Reflex tells personal stories of parenthood, many of which are based on real-life experiencesMrs Riedl, was asked to stop breastfeeding in the foyer of her Bendigo workplace in October last year.

I came up against an ingrained culture of conservatism at the top level, and their refusal to admit that they hurt my feelings was tough to handle. It made me so angry, anxious and eventually depressed,” she says, “so in the end, I just channelled that negative energy into something creative.”

The result is both a biting satire and an emotive piece of playwriting. The play draws together poignant stories from other parents, proving that negative experiences are not unusual in the first few years of parenthood. Scenes include a scathing beat poem addressed to the her former boss, and a Monty Python-esque medical Professor whose lecture on the pregnant body is both hilarious and sickening.

The Let-Down Reflex is reflective of Tripwire Theatre’s aim to provide high quality, affordable performing arts that reflects our local values, celebrate our successes and critique our failures. The upcoming production certainly has Bendigo at its heart. It stars Strathfieldsaye actress Sharon Newth, and is directed by Principal of Bendigo’s Helen O’Grady Drama Academy, Alise Amarant.

7:30pm, Thursday 1 September 2016 

The Old Church on the Hill,
36 Russell St, Quarry Hill

Tickets from
$12 concession / $15 adult
NOT suitable for children. Occasional coarse language. 

The Let-Down Reflex is the first public presentation of work by the new theatre group, Tripwire Theatre Inc. “Tripwire is the culmination of everything I have done in my career thus far”, says Megan Riedl, group founder and first Artistic Director. 

Tripwire Theatre Inc. is a not-for-profit group who develop new theatre projects in regional Victoria. The groups’ members are collaborative professional theatre-makers and arts managers who don’t have the time, resources or opportunities to earn a living full time from their theatre practice. 

TRIPWIRE logo new

Tripwire Theatre Inc. presents

The Let-Down Reflex.
Written by Megan Riedl & Bjorn Worpel. 
Directed by Alise Amarant.
Performed by Sharon Newth, Bjorn Worpel & Megan Riedl.
Original Music by Bill Elder.

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Local history and collectables

Well, we’ve discovered a great way to explore the Bendigo region, get your hands on amazing pieces of local history and support local business. 

P5220146Visitors to the Bendigo region know only too well the enjoyment of hunting through antique or collectable stores trying to find great pieces. So much so that antique fairs and other collectables fairs are now common place in the region, bringing in thousands of visitors and the vital tourism dollars, but are we making the most of these great opportunities that are at our fingertips all year round?

There are many antique and collectable stores across Bendigo and Central Victoria from Castlemaine to Maldon, and Inglewood to Daylesford. Many small towns rely on these businesses to bring visitors into help the micro economy of their towns.

We set ourselves the challenge to purchase small items from antique or collectable stores in the area, to highlight the amazing long history of Bendigo and Central Victoria. This not-so-arduous task involved going for leisurely country drives to explore our vastly beautiful countryside. We are truly spoilt and it only takes a short drive out from our home to remind us of this. We stopped at these towns and either bought a coffee or lunch while walking through the towns to find their antique or collectable stores. Then with our small set budget, we hunted to find and buy small items of our local rich history.

miss maldon xHere a just a few historical things we found just waiting for us:

  1. A 1951 City of Bendigo Centenary Medal
  2. A Bendigo Anzac Day 1921 Medal
  3. A Commemorative Medal from 1920 for The Prince of Wales visit to Bendigo
  4. The 1971 ‘Miss Maldon’ badge for the Maldon Easter Charity Fair

What we have in Central Victoria is a long history (by Australian standards). It’s great personally to have just a few small pieces of Bendigo history at home and to share with family and friends. Moreover, the time spent driving across our beautiful region was worth the effort in and of itself, let alone doing our small bit to spend a few dollars to help out small local businesses.

We highly recommend you take advantage our countryside and the history at our fingertips. When you do so, please tell us and show us what you found on Twitter or Facebook to show off your local history. Happy travels!

Thanks for the submission and account of your weekend Bendigo Sommelier.

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Election Sausage 2016


Image stolen from the Bendigo Weekly

Voting in the Bendigo electorate? You need an election day sausage, so we’ve been on a quest…

…to find the sausages! Election sausages! They help the voting go down a treat.

Where to go to vote in the Federal Election on Saturday?
As all polling booths in Bendigo are in the Bendigo electorate, we have many choices:

Sausage sizzle, cake stall AND breakfast bbq
Eppalock Primary School
Opening at 8am they’ll be serving a hot breakfast bbq, then the usual sausages later on. A delicious cake Stall with LOTS of country homemade goodies on offer and the local CFA will have a stall so you can chat to them & ask questions. Accessible for wheelchairs.
Corner of Patons Road and Axe Creek Road

Sausage sizzle AND cake stall
Axedale Hall
Spring Gully Primary School 
St Monica’s Primary School, Kangaroo Flat
Tyledon Primary School

Sausage Sizzle
California Gully Primary School
Creek Street Christian College
Junortoun Community Action Group
, Bendigo Baptist Centre – 757 McIvor Highway

Quarry Hill Primary School (sausages, hamburgers, drinks)*
Lightening Reef Primary School

* vegetarian options available!

More here via the Federal Election Sausage Sizzle Map and Democracy Sausage.
Here are all the other places you can vote in the Bendigo electorate. Polling places are open from 8am-6pm.

Let us know if we need to add to the list.

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Bendigo Burger Adventures – Part I


McIvor Road Takeaway’s Deluxe Burger

by Paul Waldron

Paul’s first contestant in ‘Bendigo’s best sub $10 burger’ quest comes to you from McIvor Road Takeaway. (Thanks for the suggestion Gus)

A strong contestant at $7.25 with an optional $3 ‘upgrade’ to include chips and a can of drink. May I present The Deluxe… I’m assuming it’s the McIvor’s take on the lot. Only this time, possibly the only place where pineapple is inclusive and not extra. Definite vantage points there.

The shop presents a range of different burgers of different names without any pretentiousness e.g. ‘The Chicken’. One can only imagine what type of burger that might be referring to.

The Deluxe is complete with all trimmings: beetroot, lettuce, tomato, well-melted cheese, egg, bacon, onion, and, of course, a bit of ‘dead horse’ as the iconic Australian saying goes. The neat stack of almost cookie cut pieces is worthy of advertising but every bit as authentic and fresh unlike certain fast food restaurants would have you believe.

Still leaves me hunting for that perfectly cooked, ever-so-slightly runny egg yolk, though. Wherever shall I go next?

McIvor Road Takeaway 5441 1615
91 McIvor Road, Bendigo

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Bendigo quilters and patchworkers!

CraftAliveBendigoLocal quilters and patchworkers in the Bendigo area are being asked to donate their time and skills to produce patchwork blocks, all in the name of charity.

The blocks will form completed quilts to be auctioned off at the Bendigo CraftAlive Expo (17-19 June 2016), as part of the Quilts of Hope initiative that supports children living with cancer and other life threatening blood disorders.

For 27 years, CraftAlive has run Australia’s premier regional craft shows. Through Quilts of Hope, CraftAlive has united hundreds of crafters across Australia for a worthy cause.

“This month we need more participants to reach our goal of completing 20 quilts for the charity auction. We’re calling on craft enthusiasts of all ages and skill level in the Bendigo community to bring some local artistic flair to Quilts of Hope.” says Tess Gutknecht, from CraftAlive

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for amateur and professional crafters to show off their beautiful quilt designs while giving back to a worthy cause,“ adds Tess.

Quilts can also be made from start-to-finish as part of Australia’s largest Quilt-a-Thon at the Bendigo CraftAlive Expo next week, and will either be donated to children entering hospital or auctioned off to raise funds for Challenge, the recipient charity.

Jane Rainey, from Challenge, says “Quilts of Hope is remarkable initiative – every quilt sold can make a difference in benefiting the lives of kids living with cancer and their families.”

Individuals and local groups can visit for more information, and to reserve their Quilt-a-thon spot at the Bendigo CraftAlive Expo. For those who are unable to attend but would still like to make a difference, a FREE kit can also be ordered online.

Since launching earlier this year, over 500 crafters across Australia have contributed patchwork blocks to the Quilts of Hope initiative, with hundreds of volunteers turning them into quilts. Nearly $10,000 has been raised from the sale of the completed quilts or auction items and donated to Challenge.

Quilts of Hope will be travelling the country with CraftAlive shows throughout 2016. The next stop will be Ballarat in July, with the next big event night in Tamworth in September

Craft Alive
Bendigo Showgrounds (Holmes Road, North Bendigo)
Friday 17 June – Sunday 19 June
10am – 5pm
For further information and to purchase discounted tickets to the Bendigo CraftAlive Expo, visit

We have a double pass to give away for Craft Alive – Bendigo 2016.
Head over to our Facebook page and tell us your favourite kind of craft – that’s all you have to do.
Entries close at 5pm on Monday 13 June 2016.


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Bendigo 2020: Collaborative, Innovative, Abundant

by Karen Corr, Social Entrepreneur at Make a Change Australia
Originally published by the Bendigo Weekly on 3 June 2016 

2020: It’s official, Bendigo has made it to a world leadership city.

Key challenges have been addressed and Bendigo has been awarded the most creative and socially innovative city in Australia. The lines between government and community have disappeared.

In the past five years true collaborative partnerships have been forged through a shift in attitude and produced the most extraordinary results.

As a community we respect our leaders – at all levels. We have expanded the concept of leadership to beyond the elite and those in authority to recognise that leadership is a generous contribution at many levels of society.

People who are passionate about creating positive change in their community and have the skills and drive and commitment to do so have been key to creating effective social change and in turn a thriving, livable city for all. Whether labelled changemakers, social entrepreneurs, volunteers or innovators, it is acknowledged that these people are crucial in the future development of the city and their time is valued.

Ample cross sector support has been given to these community leaders who have been recognised as highly educated, resourceful, caring people working tirelessly and often in an underpaid or voluntary basis to make a difference in their community.

Respect is given to those that give up their careers and give their time so generously to create new innovative approaches / initiatives / enterprises for the benefit of the community.  In particular, government and local agencies have worked hard to remove the road blocks allowing us to foster effective partnerships and create collaborative and innovative solutions.

Investment in skill development and ongoing support for emerging leaders has significantly expanded the capacity to make positive change in Bendigo too. More people are willing to have a go at making good stuff happen and are rewarded in their efforts.

Risk taking in backing social enterprise is now encouraged and there are adequate seed funding programs to enable this. The word ‘failure’ has been replaced with ‘learning’ in our common discussions, which allows us to benefit fully from all innovative processes, irrespective of their immediate outcomes. This has been and continues to be, our foundation for long term sustainable improvement.

We have achieved extraordinary results in the way consultation occurs within communities. Rather than governments talking to communities about what they want and need, it is now standard practice that communities talk to each other about what they want and need and outcomes are produced that are community driven and owned with the support and partnership of government agencies.

This is a much more powerful and long lasting approach for those communities. 

A direct link between creativity, community and economic development has been achieved. Investment to drive cross sector collaboration and partnerships for community benefit, utilising and respecting the resources that already exist in our community has made a huge difference in outcomes for the city.

As a result of all this, Bendigo has transformed itself. Local businesses are thriving. There are many more micro businesses and social enterprises creating local employment whilst at the same time addressing key social issues.

The city is alive with creativity – festivals, participatory events and pop-up shops. There has been a shift in thinking and action when it comes to the purchase of local art, locally made, locally grown. The creative industry is alive and well in this town.

Neighbourhoods have become vibrant hubs of activity, they are more connected and there is much less social isolation of individuals and groups.

Our most disadvantaged are supported and empowered.

Health and well being statistics have improved.

Education is considered crucial to the overall wellbeing and development of the city – programs of education, not just through schools, but for the general public, and particularly those who are in most need, are invested into by business, community organisations and government.

Our environment is respected and people are aware of the many benefits a healthy and nurtured environment provides and are actively working to not only lessen the impact but restore and regenerate it.

Young people are included in decision making and seen as contributors and listened to as our next generation of leaders. More and more innovative housing models are being developed giving more people options to have a secure and affordable home.

Our indigenous culture is acknowledged and respected, included and celebrated. Multiculturalism is celebrated. Fear of the unknown has, in the past, caused angst, upset and divide. Community led initiatives have been supported. These initiatives have built connections, understanding and respect between different cultures and backgrounds.

The strategic approach to build a culture of collaboration and innovation via effective partnerships has paid off, and Bendigo whilst it was good before, is now the most livable, inclusive city in the world.

“Now it’s the age for the translator. It’s the age for the bridge builder. It’s the age for Velcro. It’s the age for Lego. It’s the age for combining what we already have into what we need.” Van Jones

KarenCorr2Karen Corr is passionate about creating positive change.
Karen has a background in environmental engineering with over 10 years experience in water management and sustainability consulting.
She left her career to start a life in community sustainability and social entrepreneurship. She has been involved in numerous other social change initiatives: the Bendigo Sustainability Group, Goldfields SolarHub, Reposer Bendigo, WiserAustralia and the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance
Karen set up Make a Change Australia to work with local people to create effective social and environmental change.

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Bendigo 2020: Faith in our city’s great future

by Margaret O’Rourke, CEO Aspire Cultural and Charitable Foundation
Originally published by the Bendigo Weekly on 27 May 2016

It is 2020 and I’m driving north into Bendigo along the High Street Boulevard. The Sacred Heart Cathedral with its established Aspire Precinct comes into view. I never tire of this glorious vista. The magnificent cathedral is like the guardian of our city; representing the gateway to what lies ahead in beautiful Bendigo.

Despite your religious beliefs, this commanding building defines Bendigo’s goldfields past and a ‘can do’ attitude of never giving up. It also offers a promise; a promise of a city with a great future.

The forecourt surrounding this gateway is the Aspire Precinct, a civic space to rival the cathedrals of the world. It is the final piece in the cathedral’s long history… and it captures the light of another autumn afternoon in downtown Bendigo 2020.

I never expected when I left Bendigo in 1993 to follow career aspirations, that my passion would ultimately be for my community. Growing up in Bendigo where the population sign never changed from 48,000 for so many years; I yearned for the brighter, bigger lights, to work and live in large cities, as well as regional, rural and remote Australia.

Ten years ago my family brought me home; my husband Ray enjoyed Bendigo and wanted our girls to grow up in an inclusive regional community with all of the opportunities of a big city. My passion led me in the direction of connecting communities through digital economic development in education, health and tourism.

Bendigo’s gateway is stunning; no other regional city in Australia has the presence that we have, and on the menu of delicious Bendigo offerings, this gateway really is a great entrée.

The civic open space of the Aspire Precinct is a regular site for markets, boutique concerts and family events and families and diners enjoy the casual cafe and retail experience of the boulevard area. Inner city living on both sides bustling with offices and shops frame this recreational area with its attractive green space and tram stop.

At the main course of Charing Cross, a sweeping suite of historic architecture opens before me, with eateries and shops making use of the Beehive building and other historic gems. The green respite of Rosalind Park is a hub for share bikes allowing residents and visitors to move leisurely around the city. Along Pall Mall past the majestic Shamrock, Old Post Office and Law Courts into the dessert of our city where the restored Vahland Fountain presides with grandeur over this space.


St Killian’s Church, Bendigo

Continuing north on our goldfields history and faith tour we come to the bookend to the city, St Killian’s Church, the largest wooden church in the southern hemisphere and the site of the original 1850s slab and canvas chapel.

I must mention I am following this tour on my augmented reality device powered by a free WiFi mesh over the whole City of Greater Bendigo.

At this intersection we see the entrance to Bendigo’s Health precinct with its world class hospital which has been open now for more than three years and bustling Bridge and Chapel streets with a myriad of allied health businesses. On the opposite corner, the re-purposed TAFE city campus site is now an energetic hub for our youth with the Centre of Excellence in Health educating local, state and international students.

All of these activities are taking place on a stretch of road no more than a kilometre long. These outcomes have taken vision, guts and determination to make them happen.  Another example of the ‘can do’ attitude our goldfields were built on, and known for.

Bendigo continues to evolve and grow – it is an innovative city, a smart city, a thinking city, a welcoming city – this is not new it has been happening since the goldrush.

Faith tourism is bringing new economies to Bendigo with faith tours reinvigorating our tourism assets as Aspire shares stories of our goldfields past. Faith tourism is real and in fact the fastest growing tourism sector in the world. Bendigo faith communities are working together to drive this new economy.

The Faith on the Goldfields Interpretative Centre welcomes locals and visitors to experience the many faith assets our region is home to: The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, Chinese Museum and Joss House, Karen Monastery, Islamic Mosque, Greek Orthodox Church, Jewish Community, Coptic Monastery, and the many varied Christian churches built in the goldfields.

The Aspire Precinct’s Library Learning Resource Centre and business innovation hub attracts different people to work together to socialise and communicate in an inclusive environment. They work on social projects to make real change with support of large and small partnering businesses in a think tank approach that is generating strong economic and social outcomes.

Education is a large part of the precinct, with year five and six students from across Australia experiencing an immersive program in the Faith on the Goldfields interpretive centre. As part of their curriculum they are learning from the stories of our past and relating this into their current day and how it will help create their future.

I relax after this satisfying three course dinner, with a coffee, of course. Bem_o_rourke_250pxndigo’s coffee culture is still thriving in 2020. I reflect on the great strides Bendigo has made in the past four years with the culmination of iconic projects in tourism, education and health.

I also say a quiet thanks to the men and women of the past who started the building of our great city from the mud of the goldfields, to the citizens today who are working together to pay homage to this past and create an inspired future.

Marg O’Rourke is an active member of the Bendigo community, involved in a variety of organisations and charities.

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Bendigo 2020: Aiming for The Good Life

by Ian McBurney, Sustainability Advocate and great person to know.
Originally published by the Bendigo Weekly on 20 May 2016

In 1996 I moved from Bendigo to Melbourne for deeper conversations, cultural diversity and positive thinking. In 2007, Claire and I bought our first child back to Bendigo for fresh air, community and a childhood without a million traffic jams. And ever since we have enjoyed the deeper conversations and positive thinking that has flowed into Bendigo.

We helped establish the Bendigo Sustainability Group and we loved watching the establishment of the Farmers Market, the Trove Market, the Moonlight Market, cycling infrastructure, the gallery, the food scene, the cafes, Ulumbarra Theatre and more. The Age even called us the coolest town in Victoria!

On the back of this innovation and change we can look with confidence to 2020 and beyond. Great and exciting changes are afoot. A new economy is rising and it is about localisation. Around the world, local people and local place are being put back into the local economy, enriching everyone.

Council’s role is to encourage, enable and embrace the localisation of energy, food, work and transport systems and Bendigo will benefit from this for decades.

So what is this new economy? It has three main elements. The first is local renewable energy, the second is electric vehicles and the third is high speed internet. Jeremy Rifkin calls the convergence of these three elements ‘the third industrial revolution‘. It has profound implications for the way our local economy will be structured.

Let’s think about it.


Renewable energy is local. The solar, wind, energy efficiency, sustainable design, battery storage and distribution projects will create local work, local ownership, local investment and local revenue. We’ve never had that here before. Our $80 million annual household energy spend largely leaves Bendigo and Australia.

The big idea however, is that once installed, renewable energy is basically free.

In the mid 2020s, this new energy system will go online in real time allowing everyone to both produce and consume energy, so that we can match energy flow with demand.


Our local energy system will combine with the global push for electric vehicles. Council can plan for a transport revolution as internet platforms will allow vehicles to become shared, driverless and autonomous, removing 90 per cent of cars from the roads.

Everyone will be able to travel where they want when they want, without the road toll, without foreign petrol and without air and noise pollution. We won’t need public or private parking and at least half the roads will be repurposed for trade, nature, community or all three.

Bendigo homes used to spend $280 million on transport annually, which left our city. That can stay here. We will pay for the bits of transport we need, rather than a whole vehicle.

Council can increase investment and planning for electric vehicle charging, walkability, cycling, public places, public transport, urban greening and housing and land use projects that encourage these. The 2015 Integrated Land Use and Transport Strategy has already positioned us for these changes.

The localisation of energy and transport will create a revolution across the rest of the economy. Here’s a taste…


Our food system is already beginning to relocalise with local niche brands and farmers markets, Food Fossickers, backyard veggie gardens and fruit trees flourishing. Web platforms will allow food swapping and redistribution and mapping to occur in real time. The cooperatively owned Food Hub is the next piece.


Fluid collections of talented local entrepreneurs and micro businesses will combine to deliver great work, replacing larger organisations. Our Synergize co-working hub is an early example of this change.

Council can adapt local planning and policy to suit this vast growth of mobile workers, creating local places of economic value, connection and creativity. People won’t want or need ‘jobs’, but there will be lots of exciting work to do as we transition energy, transport and food systems and tackle homelessness, loneliness, intergenerational poverty, obesity and disadvantage.

As transport and energy systems localise, council can start planning for a new local manufacturing boom.


Online platforms are already popping up to re-energise citizen participation. Crowd writing, shared decision making, crowdsourced opinion, encrypted electronic voting and more are re-energising participation in local democracy.

We won’t have to go to the town hall: we will participate online. This jump in participation will enliven and improve how council operates and delivers services, with the old top down model becoming obsolete.


Retail will move towards life and away from stuff. Morley’s Emporium’s social enterprise model, Food Fossickers and niche products like local brewing and breads are all thriving. Around the world, sharing stores and fixing stores and meet up and skill sharing cafes are popping up.

Council will start to remove vehicle infrastructure in the city, planning for the return of the local walkable shopping strip, pop up trade, local markets and public places for people to be together. Council is in deep planning phase for real time freight for the city that runs on a local electric autonomous fleet.


I’m currently working on bringing the sharing economy to Bendigo, providing real time access to goods and services from lifts, stuff, money, time, skills, spaces and more. We will move beyond ownership of stuff to shared access. This will be cost effective, convenient and if the tech is owned by local cooperatives, the value will stay local.

Council can change the design of streets, buildings, public places and services to reflect this new sharing focus.


These big systematic changes will make us healthier, happier, more diverse and more connected. Council will focus on place making, community connection, walkability, 10-minute neighbourhoods, cycling, parks, access to nature, quality aged and child care and the child friendly city.

Children and the aged will reclaim streets and public places. The return of local biodiversity will have a big impact on local health, wellbeing and sense of place, and greening the city will help keep it cooler.


The new local access economy will bring students back to Bendigo in droves. Their vibrancy will be our vibrancy. Council is planning for the 10,000 people that will live in the city centre by 2030. This will be safer, more fun, more alive, will open up new markets and will create a more edgy city.


The old economy is dead and people know it, but salvation does not come from fear or clinging to the past.

Bendigo is no different. Fear of cultural diversity has already caused outbreaks of bigotry. Fear of a new economic system creates longing for an imaginary past. We must rise above our fears and learn together and if we can we will thrive.


The key to our future strength as a city is to take the best and most brilliant ideas from around the world and localise them. Put simply, our spending and our work need to relocalise, circulating locally and enriching us all. Roads, rates and rubbish is so 1950s. The council mantra from 2020 needs to be local people, local places, local economy. 

Claire and I chose Bendigo to raise our family and make a good life here. We can create that good life together. I’m with social researcher Hugh Mackay, who in his book The Good Life asks what makes a life worth living? His conclusion is both provocative and passionately argued:

“A good life is not measured by security, wealth, status, achievement or levels of happiness. A good life is determined by our capacity for selflessness and our willingness to connect with those around us in a meaningful and useful way.

Image+3+-+Version+3Ian McBurney is an ecological sustainability speaker, facilitator, MC and educator.  He also assists large businesses to make the transition to sustainability. He will help you reduce environmental costs, understand and integrate sustainability into your business and set up and inspire your green team – you’ll be ready for the new economy. More about Ian here.

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