Anthony Clacy takes two silken scarves, one black and the other white, and places them purposefully into his red velvet bag.
“You can see they’re in there, right?” the 12-year-old asks, holding the mouth of the bag open so his audience can peer inside.
The two squares of fabric are visible at the bottom.
“Now put your hand in there and swirl them around.”
This action, Anthony explains, will change the scarves’ colour.
He then taps the lip of the bag with a wand, the type of black rod with white tips you expect to be in every’s magician’s arsenal, before inviting an audience member to reach for the cloths.
But the two scarves are gone, replaced by one black-and-white, striped piece of fabric.
“You must’ve swirled them together!” he tells his audience.
A smile appears across Anthony’s face; he enjoys the bamboozled gaze he gets in return.
Anthony’s knack for magic began at the age of seven, his interest piqued by a cousin who already had an illusion or two up his sleeve.
Five years on, the Huntly magician is an accomplished performer, entertaining parties full of children and competing in national championships.
It's just a great feeling seeing the smiles on people’s faces when I do it
He even has a world record under his belt, part of a Melbourne group’s successful bid to perform the longest continual magic show in history.
It lasted four days.
Asked why he likes magic so much, Anthony explains it is people’s reaction that keeps him adding to his bag of tricks.
“It's just a great feeling seeing the smiles on people’s faces when I do it,” he says.
“Making them happy, making their day brighter, just watching them feel like they're experiencing real magic is a great thing.
“That's how I felt when I saw my cousin do tricks.”
Despite having studied the work of some of the art form’s best-known performers – he has even performed in front of Australian illusionist Cosentino – it is simple tricks, like making scarves change colours, that still give him the biggest kick.
These acts take more skill than any high-flying, daredevil stunt.
“It came naturally to me, I was good with my hands,” he says.
“I still use a lot of cards and coins.”
He stops to show off another trick, one in which coins hidden under four aces somehow transport their way across the table.
“It's closer to the spectator, and you can do a lot of it in their (the audience’s) hands, so it connects more,” he says.
It is magic that Anthony’s mother, Anna, credits with his confidence in front of a crowd.
She says it’s one of the many life skills her son has learnt from attending the Australian Institute of Magic, a Melbourne group with a juniors program that meets each week in Melbourne.
It was not unusual for Ms Clacy to pick Anthony up from Holy Rosary Primary School in White Hills at 3pm on Tuesday afternoons, then drive the two-hour length of the Calder Freeway for the nighttime lesson.
Far from begrudging the travel, Ms Clacy values her time alongside the magic fraternity, a group she describes as a close-knit and kind community.
She had even welcomed a magician’s assistant – five-month-old rabbit Leo – into the family’s home.
But Ms Clacy wishes there were opportunities in Bendigo for young people wanting to learn the age-old performance art.
In the meantime, Bendigonians will just have to settle for seeing Anthony in action at local festivals and at children’s parties.
His very first show was for a three-year-old’s birthday celebration. Despite the crowd’s young age, Anthony had them transfixed for the entirety of his 30-minute show, his mother says.
“By the end of the show, they were crawling up to see closer,” Anthony remembers.
He is also known to produce a trick or two for his Holy Rosary classmates, and says he is affectionately know as “that kid who does magic”.
But not everyone is as big a fan of his work as his friends.
“My sister, Tanya, she's fed up with it,” Anthony says. “She's heard 'pick a card' so many times over the last few years.”