9pm: The Bendigo incumbent, Lisa Chesters, was congratulated by her fellow state Labor MPs Jacinta Allen and Maree Edwards this evening after it became clear Ms Chesters would retain her seat.
Ms Chesters thanked everyone from her partner Matt Emond to the hardworking Labor volunteers who kept the campaign going.
Even young daughter Daisy got a shout out.
See her full victory speech here:
Liberal candidate Darin Schade has congratulated Ms Chesters on the win, saying it has been a tough night for the party nationally.
You can read more of Mr Schade's comments here.
It is still too early to tell who will form government.
The battle for Bendigo might have consumed most of our attention this evening but we are also keeping an eye on two seats north of Bendigo containing communities in our readership area.
The most interesting one right now is Nicholls, which encompasses communities like Rochester and Echuca.
There, independent candidate Rob Preistly is holding his own in what has, until now, been a safe Nationals seat.
With 65 per cent of the vote counted, Mr Priestly has about 44 per cent of the two candidate preferred vote, compared to the Nationals' Sam Birrell.
Mr Preistly has led a high profile independent campaign at a time when sitting member, the Nationals' Damien Drum, is retiring.
Further west in the seat of Mallee, incumbent Anne Webster is having a better time.
She currently has 68 per cent of the two party preferred vote against Labor challenger Carole Hart.
8pm: We understand Lisa Chesters will address supporters at Bendigo Trades Hall shortly.
We are planning to broadcast her comments on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
7.40pm: With close to 40 per cent of Bendigo's vote counted, sitting member Lisa Chesters looks set to be returned as the region's federal MP for another three years.
Ms Chesters carried a margin of just over nine per cent on a two candidate preferred basis into today's election, and opponent Darin Schade looks to have made no inroad into that margin.
Ms Chesters would take some comfort in knowing the electorate's biggest booths are yet to return their votes, and they are likely to reflect an even stronger vote for her over her opponents.
Despite his best efforts, Mr Schade looks to have failed to register any telling blows in the battle for Bendigo.
We are detecting a clear swing in Bendigo and it is flowing Labor's way, with 30 per cent of the vote counted.
It is there in in early booth results come in most from small rural booths.
Some are in more leftwing areas of the electorate, some more right, but they appear to be showing a swing to Labor of more than three per cent.
Results from big booth centres in urban areas are yet to arrive and, traditionally, they have been favourable to Labor.
The first booth is in from Elphinstone.
It is a comfortable hold for the ALP. While Lisa Chesters' primary vote is off 1.66 per cent, Liberal candidate Darin Schade's is down by 4.68 per cent and the Greens are up by about 1.8 per cent.
Seems Liberals' Darin Schade and the scattering of minor party candidates have split the non-Labor vote - at least in Elphinstone.
The Liberal Democrat vote is holding up compared to 2019.
There's probably a bit of voter confusion here and some voters might have chosen the Liberal Democrats thinking they were backing the Liberals' Darin Schade.
Taradale has swung to the ALP by more than 2.5 per cent on a two candidate preferred basis, building on the more than 10.5 per cent swing Lisa Chesters recorded in 2019.
It might be early, but this looks to be a trend that could settling across Bendigo...
More to come.
The very first result for a seat representing central Victoria has arrived.
It is for Torumbarry, which is not in our readership area but is in the seat of Nicholls, which covers some communities to Bendigo's north.
Independent Rob Priestly is trying to rest control of that seat from the Nationals, following the retirement of Damien Drum.
He might be happy to know that of the 133 people who voted at that centre, he got the most support.
He won 29 votes, beating out Nationals candidate Steve Brookes.
No other candidates felt Torumbarry's love. Everyone else polled in the single digits.
Yep, Bendigo's polls have now closed and those entrusted with our votes are getting ready to count them.
We will be with you through the evening.
If you have been wondering, Bendigo voters again turned out in force at pre-polls. Here are the latest numbers we have on those (they are still to be properly counted, but).
A total of 45,161 people attended pre-polling booths in the two weeks they were open.
That is only 2,333 more than in 2019, but keep in mind the pre-polls were open for a week less this time around.
The Australian Electoral Commission has received 11,363 Bendigo postal votes so far, with just under 5000 more valid applications currently on the books.
East Bendigo Community hall is one of two Bendigo polling booths providing a quiet room for voters to cast their ballot.
Between cooking up "democracy bangers", Bendigo Amateur Radio and Electronics Club secretary Don Butler told the Bendigo Advertiser the accessible polling booth had been a success so far.
"I think it's very important that you have the opportunity to have a quiet bit of space here where you can record your vote," he said.
"It's one thing to be following the how-to-vote-cards and [have a] 'pick and flick' sort of thing.
"But if you want to put your own thoughts in place - especially with the long Senate paper - I think a quiet polling booth is a benefit."
After reports of several polling booths being fairly quiet, voters received a bit of a shock at the large line waiting for them when they arrived at Eppalock Primary School at lunchtime.
As of about 1pm this afternoon there was an estimated wait time of 30 minutes before Bendigonians could cast their vote.
The largest line in comparison was Weeroona College at about 10am. Elsewhere - including Maiden Gully Primary School and Lightning Reef Primary School - crowds were not nearly as large.
LIBERAL candidate for Bendigo Darin Schade has cast his vote in Bendigo.
He was at his old school, North Bendigo's Lightning Reef Primary, a block or two away from his childhood home.
"I still have the scars on my knee from coming off my bike on Holdsworth Road, on the corner there, coming to school," Mr Schade said.
"It was a great place to grow up."
Mr Schade has spent much of the last two weeks manning pre-poll booths for up to 12 hours a day, which he said had been invigorating.
"I've got to admit, I did wonder whether my enthusiasm would wane over those two weeks," he said.
"But it has been more and more energising."
Greens candidate for Bendigo Dr Cate Sinclair was asked to remove her Greens badge before she entered the booths, which prompted an interesting conversation about swaying voters.
No t-shirts, badges or party volunteers are allowed inside the polling booths on Election Day, so as not to sway voters.
Incumbent federal Labor MP Lisa Chesters has called for calm after several reported instances of verbal abuse at Bendigo polling booths on election day.
Ms Chesters, who has held the Victorian seat of Bendigo since 2013, said a handful of volunteers had been "yelled or screamed at" by members of the public while handing out how to vote cards.
"That's just not on," she said, "a lot of the volunteers are doing it because they believe in something."
"They're people, and you wouldn't yell at somebody in a workplace or on the street.
"Respect the people who make our democracy work."
Greens candidate for Bendigo Cate Sinclair cast her vote at Weeroona College this morning.
Speaking with political reporter Neve Brissenden, Dr Sinclair noted how candidates can not have advertising inside the actual voting centres - something that makes sense but is rarely mentioned.
As all voters would know, there is a lot of advertising on the way to the booth from people supporting their candidates.
"It's probably to let people focus and decide what they're doing, it's a good thing," Dr Sinclair said. "There's enough information outside."
Australians will do a lot of things for a small piece of meat, slathered in sauce and wrapped in bread. Including vote.
According to the Democracy Sausage website there are four sausage sizzles listed at voting sites in Bendigo.
As of 9.30am, voting centres at St Paul's Cathedral, Golden Square Primary School, Weeroona College in White Hills and Kennington Primary have sausage sizzles running.
But there are sure to be more.
Happy voting and enjoy your democracy sausage.
Morning reader, Chris Pedler here to share a bit of the colour that comes with election day.
Polls are now open and hopefully lines move fast.
In a reminder that everybody votes, Australian Defence Force members were lined up in Mitchell, Street, Bendigo, ahead of the polls opening at 8am.
Polls will stay open through the day until they close at 6pm sharp.
Good morning Greater Bendigonians and a happy Democracy Sausage Day to you.
A few of us here at The Bendigo Advertiser will be bringing you the latest election news from around the region right here, so stay close to this page.
After six long weeks the time has come for Australian's everywhere to cast their votes and decide who will stand as the nation's leaders for the next three years.
It's also time to sink your teeth into a delicious democracy sausage.
But first, a few things to add to your toolkit today:
You'll also be happy to know it's expected to be a lovely, mostly sunny day in the region.
With a top of 17 degrees and a few light winds there is zero per cent chance of rain on Saturday.
Want to be part of the live blog? Send in your democracy sausage pics, stories of friends you've met in the line to vote, thoughts on the day and more to email@example.com or our social media. You can tweet at us @BgoAddy or message us on Facebook and we will do our best to get it in.
More to come.
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