As the proud citizens of Bendigo prepare to honour their most cherished and time-honoured tradition, the annual “Not Ballarat” Festival, city officials and residents alike are eager to remind Melbournians that they are, in fact, not their historical rival, Ballarat.
The week-long celebration kicks off this Monday with a ceremonial burning of a giant paper-mâché Sovereign Hill replica. Locals are encouraged to gather around the flaming tribute to the city they are not as they chant in unison, “We are Bendigo; we’re not Ballarat.”
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf announced, “Bendigo is its own unique, thriving city, filled with history and culture that doesn’t include being Ballarat.” The festival offers an array of not-being-Ballarat events, such as the ‘Definitely Not Eureka Stockade’ reenactment and the ‘Not-arat’ scavenger hunt, where participants search for hidden items that are decidedly not representative of Ballarat.
The festival will culminate in a grand parade featuring floats, marching bands, and local community organizations, all dressed in outfits that do not resemble anything from Ballarat. Citizens will be handed ‘I’m Not From Ballarat’ badges to wear to symbolise their civic pride.
In response to the festivities, Ballarat Mayor, Daniel Moloney, offered a terse statement: “We’re just glad they’re finally admitting they’re not us.”
Despite Ballarat’s indifference, Bendigo’s “Not Ballarat” Festival promises to be a week filled with merriment and an unwavering commitment to not being anything like their neighbouring city.