HUNDREDS of South Australian Rotarians are in Bendigo this week for their annual conference.
About 400 Rotarians from District 9500 – which encompasses the city of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, north to Alice Springs and the western half of South Australia – arrived in Bendigo yesterday and will spend the weekend exploring the city.
A civic welcome was held for the group at the Bendigo Town Hall last night and the conference will be officially opened at the All Seasons Hotel today.
Rotarians sipped wine and admired the grand architecture of Bendigo Town Hall, many discussing plans to extend their stay in the region.
Richard Millar and his wife Chris, from the Barossa Valley, said they would be staying in Bendigo for a week.
“We want to have a good look around,” Mr Millar said.
“What’s really stuck me about Bendigo so far is the idea that it’s progressive but at the same time able to maintain its heritage.”
Bryan and Jan Harris from Adelaide said a trip to the Bendigo Art Gallery was on their to-do list.
“We’ve come through here a couple of times but never spent enough time here, so we’re looking forward to being able to have a good look around,” Mrs Harris said.
Conference chairman Ashleigh Lorraine said the event was held in a different place every year, giving participants the chance to discover Australia.
“It was the great co-operation we got from the City of Greater Bendigo that really got us started on coming here for the conference,” he said.
“(The) council was successful in enticing us here.
“There’s a good feeling about the whole place and everyone’s been very receptive of us – the staff, the people we meet, it’s been great.”
Mr Lorraine said the conference theme was “peace through service” and would feature a diverse range of speakers.
The keynote speaker will be Li Cunxin who won hearts around the world with his autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer, which tells of the integrity that he learned in poverty-stricken China, the force that drove him to become one of the best dancers in the world.
“We’ll also be hearing from Major Matina Jewell, a retired UN peacekeeper,” Mr Lorraine said.
“The aim of the conference is to update Rotarians and their partners on local and international Rotary projects and for them to have the chance to meet like-minded people.
“We’re looking forward to a great weekend in Bendigo.”
There are over 1.2 million Rotarians in 34,000 clubs in most countries of the world working towards community health and well-being, and promoting international understanding and friendship.
The City of Greater Bendigo has recognised the economic value of the conference to the community and has provided sponsorship to assist Rotary in holding this year’s conference in Bendigo.