Bendigonians are not going to let a pandemic stop them doing what they love. Dance, church, choir, and more.
It's now all in your living room as groups work within restrictions.
It can be as much about connecting with others as the activity itself. Clubs, committees and organisations across Bendigo have had to think quickly and take to the internet as gathering restrictions hit the state.
IDance Studio owner Andrew White knew from the pandemic outset he would have to stop classes eventually. He kept them going as long as possible, but had to stop as tighter restrictions came into force.
First Mr White put partner medal classes on hold. Then, he had to stop group classes.
But he decided to continue fitness dance classes, remotely.
He set up a camera to livestream to the studio's member Facebook group.
It means he can dance in the studio, while students dance in their lounge rooms.
Classes last for an hour.
Mr White hasn't been able to teach dances like ballroom or latin online - there's no way he and a partner could stay two metres apart - but he's kept up fitness.
"The idea is that you clear a space in you lounge room and dance with us," Mr White said.
"It's not just us doing the tutorial. It's you do the class with us at the same time: a live virtual class."
The response has been strong. Mr White has had die-hard fitness students who jump on every class, and they absolutely love it.
One student had been attending classes for just a month or so, when the studio was forced to close.
Desi Winiata had joined with his 15-year-old daughter, as a father-daughter bonding activity.
They were both really enjoying it.
They're now getting their heads around staying fit in the living room.
Mr Winiata has set the space up so he can hit the gym at home as well.
It's a whole new ball game for him though.
"Part of your training is to be among other people, or being in that environment, that will just help you with your training," Mr Winiata said.
"Just persistence and commitment to your training, doing it at home. It's obviously a lot harder, but it's just something we've got to get used to in today's environment."
But, to Mr Winiata, it's worth keeping going. He said people couldn't let restrictions put pause to what they wanted to achieve.
Mr White said he wanted to help people keep fit, but also stay connected. He plans to continue offering classes online until restrictions are lifted. At that point, he's planning a dance party.
"The best way to beat any sort of illness or disease in your body is to maintain your fitness. But also to keep connected. I had a week off last week, and I within days, I was going stir crazy," he said.
"I know that there's people out there who don't have friends, family. They look forward to coming to the dance classes because that's where you meet people.
I know that there's people out there who don't have friends, family: they look forward to coming to the dance classes because that's where you meet people.Andrew White
"It's really important... to keep maintaining that sort of connection, help people feel like they're part of something still."
Mr White said he'd been lucky that many members had called to say they would keep paying their membership.
But he said many businesses were having a hard time.
"I know there are other businesses in town that are doing it really tough," Mr White said.
"As a business owner is it means a lot to us to have the community support and faith in us that we'll do as much we can to keep the community engaged."
Restrictions have come at the most significant time of year for some groups.
Most of Bendigo's churches have begun to livestream services since being unable to meet in person.
Over Easter, the most important church holiday, communities will be unable to meet in person.
For Anglican Bishop Matt Brain, it's left him feeling untethered. But, Bishop Brain said, on another level, it's given him a new connection with Jesus during the events of Easter.
And the message of Easter bears a deep resonance at the current time.
"It's been really important for me to keep reading the stories of that first Easter and being reminded of how unstable Jesus' own existence was, but he triumphed through that," Bishop Brain said.
"We see in Easter both the utter horror of being at the mercy of things that we can't control, yet we see on the other hand, the promise of life through that, because of what God did through Jesus."
Read more: Churches keep the faith in dark times
The church also hopes to keep its communities connected.
Bishop Brain said most of the Anglican churches were teleconferencing among small groups, offering food distribution, and keeping a consistent flow of mailouts.
He said most parishes had also divided up their contact lists, so people were getting phone calls weekly, just to check in.
The logistical challenge of keeping on doing the things you love is greater for some groups than others.
Choir Women of Note have to contend with a sound-lag on most online meeting programs. It makes it almost impossible to sing together.
But the women are determined to keep on meeting.
President Carol Aylward said the group wanted to avoid a long break without rehearsals, so members stayed connected.
She said the choir was a great friendship opportunity, as well as a chance to sing.
The choir committee tried singing together on Zoom for the first time on Wednesday night.
Mrs Alyward accompanied the group on piano, while the members sung along with microphones muted.
Nine people took part in that practice.
In theory, all of the choir's 63 members could join in the first online rehearsal next week.
But many in their 70s or 80s don't have internet access. Mrs Alywards said the choir had about 50 members at rehearsals in a normal week.
Online, the women will sing alongside an accompanist and conductor.
The group also has plans to Zoom together in smaller groups, where it's easier to connect personally.
The choir is sad to have cancelled upcoming concerts, and a trip to Italy, but are keen to keep the friendship alive.
"It's a real camaraderie, a real friendship group and support group," Mrs Alyward said.
"But people get together before rehearsal or after rehearsal, there's some groups that go out to lunch together.
"There's a sense of community and friendship."
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