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What do you love about Bendigo at Easter?
Thoughts of chocolate, of family, and of traditions brought smiles to the faces of those kind enough to answer our question.
For three-year-old twins Zafari and Zanzibar Rowland, it was the idea of the imminent arrival of the Easter Bunny that evoked the most excitement.
They were keen to add to their collection of Easter eggs, and to treat themselves to a bit of chocolate.
As the Bendigo Easter Festival started to take shape around them on Thursday, they gained enthusiasm about the rides and attractions on offer.
The responses provided by Orly Flaherty, 3, Allira James, 7, and Lachlan James, 9, were similar.
Only, they had the added joy of being together to appreciate the activities and festivities on offer. The James siblings are from Bears Lagoon. Their family, and Orly’s family, came together to enjoy Easter.
Family was a common factor in many of the responses.
Easter for Douglas Chandler, 11, and his family generally means a trip to New South Wales to visit cousins.
However, the Lockwood South resident has a strong grounding in the traditions that make the festivities in his region special.
He is well acquainted with the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo.
Douglas was also one of the many respondents who mentioned their fondness for Sun Loong.
Independently of each other, both Douglas and Golden Square nine-year-old Baylee Morton said the 47-year-old imperial dragon was ‘cool.’
Trina Arnett was unsettled by the idea of Sun Loong’s retirement.
“I think it’s sad,” she said.
“I think it’s the dragons that bring everybody together. They’re awesome.”
She was reassured to know Sun Loong would be replaced by new dragon Dai Gum Loong, who would continue the city’s Easter traditions.
“My stepdad is in it – he’s in the fire brigade so he does the march,” Trina said.
Square dancing attracted Joe and Sharon Guastella to Bendigo.
They’ll be dancing their nights away for the duration of their stay.
But it’s the city’s cuisine, its culture and its Easter celebrations they intend to fill their days with.
“We’re taking the opportunity to just have a good look around and see what Bendigo has got offer,” Sharon said.
“There are lots of things around to see and do.”
Sharon said she loved the little alley ways she had found in the city centre, and was looking forward to getting a taste for the food.
“It’s just a matter of exploring and seeing what’s around,” she said.
As luck would have it, a visiting Chinese society is staying at the same caravan park as the couple.
Joe said he and Sharon had been enjoying seeing the society members getting their dragons reading for the celebrations ahead this weekend.
Eight-year-old Stella Maclauren lives in Maldon, and has the festivities in both Bendigo and the historic town to look forward to every Easter.
“We usually see lots of family,” she said.
Stella’s grandma and poppy live in Bendigo.
When she thinks of Maldon’s Easter celebrations, Stella thinks of members of the school community being involved in the parade.
Sun Loong is among the first things to come to mind when she thinks about the gala parade in Bendigo.
What would the region’s residents say to those who have yet to spend an Easter in Bendigo?
“If they haven’t been, they’re missing out,” Trina said.
“They need to get here.”