Communities across the region are gearing up for Australia Day activities next weekend.

A number of groups have been hard at work planning events for Saturday, January 26 at Lake Weeroona, Axedale, Eaglehawk, Heathcote, Huntly, Strathfieldsaye, Maiden Gully, Mia Mia, Elmore, Junortoun, Kangaroo Flat, Golden Square and Goornong.

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said Australia Day was an opportunity for all Australians to come together and reflect on what they value most about where they live.

“Wherever you are and whatever you do, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in Australia and especially Greater Bendigo,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“We have access to great schools, world-class healthcare, top quality sporting facilities, international and local art exhibitions and theatre performances, events such as the Bendigo Easter Festival and beautiful natural surrounds.

“There are so many ways to mark the public holiday – attend a community event, have a barbecue with family or friends, or splash about at one of the local pools for free. As it’s a long weekend, some people might plan a trip to Lake Eppalock or other popular camping spots.

Cr O’Rourke said it was also important to remember that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other members of our community do not see Australia Day as a day of celebration.

“It is important that we acknowledge this and continue to build greater understanding, respect and reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians,” she said.

On Australia Day more than 30 people from countries including Albania, Mexico, India, Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, United Kingdom, Philippines, South Africa, United States of America, Thailand and China will become Australian citizens at a ceremony at the Bendigo Town Hall.