Bendigo – we dig it | OPINION

I’m not sure when or how it happened but my other half is obsessed with tulips.

It all started last year when he heard about Bendigo’s annual tulip dig in Rosalind Park and he took off with breakneck speed to bag a bargain, returning home with a smile that said: “I’ve struck gold”. So when he announced that the date for this year’s annual dig had been set, unfortunately corresponding with his annual bad back, he invited me to be his assistant digger and tulip bag carrier.

When I think tulips my thoughts turn to Tiny Tim which is a bit disturbing quite frankly.

Tiny Tim was an American ukulele player and singer with a rather large nose and a one-hit wonder with his novelty song “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips”. I dare anyone to remember the full words of the song except for “tip-toe through the tulips with me” over and over again. So as you can see I’m somewhat scarred for life.  

So up we get at the break of dawn, my other half ready with his pitchfork and own carry bags “just in case”. I felt like I was leaving my village to follow a Dutch version of Braveheart, ready to battle it out with other tulip worshipping locals – their loose change jangling in their pockets as they arrived at the gates of Rosalind Park.

I was driving the getaway car in case things got a bit out of hand, sunglasses on, balaclava, there was no way I was going to be seen, it was all too embarrassing for words.

Hang on a minute there’s a queue a mile long, phew what a lucky break giving me the opportunity to bundle my other half out of the car to join the other villagers with their assorted weapons at the ready. I announce that I’ll return in half an hour “you’ll be in that line for hours” I say as I put the foot down and head off to the supermarket.

I return to find that the queue has vanished and now I’m looking for a missing tulip digger with white hair and a sharp pitchfork.

I start to panic as all I can see is an array of assorted backsides, heads bent in earnest as they scratch the earth for the elusive bulb nuggets. I ask one of the parks and gardens staff if they’ve seen an over- enthusiastic participant, with an Italian nose, possibly humming tiptoe through the tulips. She points me to the “Queen Victoria” end of the park…..what? I thought it was the Marilyn Monroe end but there’s no time to argue.

It didn’t take much to spot him, standing around with his fellow diggers laughing and chatting comparing the size of their spoils. All I needed was Danny Kaye to pop up singing wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen and the scene would have been complete.

I was introduced to complete strangers as the “tulip bag carrier” with promises to catch up again next year.

It made me reflect on other opportunities that the City of Greater Bendigo may be missing out on in terms of balancing the budget and harnessing free manpower. They could extend the tram tracks, bring your own crowbar and jackhammer. Add to the Bendigo Art Gallery’s permanent collection, bring your own artworks and drive out a costume designer. Kick off the Blues and Roots festival at the annual tulip dig with a band of ukulele players doing a Tiny Tim tribute, yes I really need therapy.

So back to the tulips, come September my other half and I will be sipping our tea on the veranda admiring the tulips as they colourfully bob in the spring sunshine.

Mind you if he starts wearing wooden shoes I might just have to disappear until the tulips are totally flattened.

See you all next year Bendigo ….you really dig it.