ABOUT 40,000 people are expected to inundate the CBD tomorrow night as the first White Night Bendigo event lights up the city’s historic buildings.
But the event will not come without its disruptions, with many CBD streets closed for the majority of Saturday afternoon and into the night and revellers urged to utilise public transport to ease the commuter chaos.
Both council and the event’s artistic director David Atkins believe the 40,000 crowd figure is realistic.
Mr Atkins said at the Ballarat event, it was estimated that 45,000 people attended.
“Bendigo is that little bit further away from Melbourne, but within an hour to the north and west you may get an entirely different amount of people who wouldn’t have gone to Melbourne that come to Bendigo,” he said.
Road closures in the CBD start at 4pm, with View Street, Hargreaves Mall, Bath Lane and Pall Mall closed to traffic while several surrounding streets will be available for local traffic only.
The Bendigo Football Netball League matches being played at the Queen Elizabeth Oval do not finish until about 5pm, causing some access issues for supporters.
However council says the QEO carpark will be available to football patrons earlier in the day.
”White Night organisers and the BFNL have worked together to minimise disruptions to the BFNL finals that will be played on the QEO earlier on in the day,” council’s major events manager Terry Karamaloudis said.
“Vehicle parking is permitted at the QEO with access via Gaol Road.
“Patrons should note that from 4pm on Saturday no more vehicles will be permitted to enter the QEO and all patrons for the football/netball that have parked in the QEO carpark will need to exit via Gaol Road.”
A number of traders have set their sights on opening while the festivities are taking place, a move that has been encouraged by organisers.
“With an expected crowd of 40,000 on the night you would logically expect that cafes, restaurants, bars and other eating establishments should trade pretty well,” Mr Karamaloudis said.
Any business that has a licence to trade on the footpath will be able to do so, given that diners are willing to brave the night time weather.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke encouraged people to take public transport to the event, with several park and ride shuttle bus stations set up around the CBD at Bendigo Racecourse, Lansell Square and Flora Hill’s La Trobe University.
Bendigo Tramways will also be operating $3 shuttle services from the Central Deborah Gold Min and Bendigo Joss House.
Five white night bus routes will operate until 3pm to ferry commuters to Golden Square, Kangaroo Flat, Epsom, Eaglehawk and Strathdale.
And V/Line is putting on extra coaches and trains for out-of-towners looking to join in the event.
White Night will be held in Bendigo’s CBD from 7pm tomorrow until 2am.
– Joel Peterson