Anniversary: The City of Greater Bendigo celebrated 150 years of municipal government in the region this week. Photos: FILE

Mayor reflects region’s golden history

July 22, 2021 BY

The City of Greater Bendigo is celebrating its one-hundred and fiftieth anniversary.

Formally known as the Borough of Sandhurst, Bendigo was declared a city on 21 July, 1871.

Mayor Cr Jennifer Alden reflected on the city’s history as a major goldmining town during the 1800s.

“Between 1851 and 1855, the goldfields districts were administered by the Government under the control of the Roads Board,” she said.

“A public meeting in 1855 recommended self-government and the Municipal District of Sandhurst was created, and the first council comprising seven male councillors was elected in 1856.

“As the population of Sandhurst grew, the number of councillors expanded to nine and it became the Borough of Sandhurst in 1863 and a city in 1871 when its annual rate revenue exceeded £20,000.

“The main focus of the council’s work at the time was ongoing requests and petitions to form local streets and guttering, installation of gas lamps for street lighting, and applications to mine for gold including an application to mine in Rosalind Park.”

In 1994, the City of Greater Bendigo was established when the City of Bendigo merged with the municipalities of Eaglehawk, Huntly, Marong, Strathfieldsaye and McIvor.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, mayoress portraits were unveiled at the Bendigo Town Hall council chamber.

“It took more than 100 years for the first female councillor to be elected,” Cr Alden said.

“Christine Elizabeth Wiseman was elected unopposed in 1960 to fill a casual vacancy, after about 150 women from various organisations gathered together and agreed to support a woman into the role.

Mayor Cr Jennifer Alden helped unveil mayoress portraits at Monday’s council meeting, in honour of women’s roles in the history of the municipality. Photo: FILE

“With an absence of women around the council table, the role of mayoress became a key way women were involved in municipal affairs.

“It was a critical but unsung role, with the title given to the wife or partner of the mayor of the day.

“Mayoresses were generally involved in leading charity work, supporting the mayor at civic functions and receptions and deputising for their husbands as needed.

“It was a tradition in both the city of Sandhurst and Bendigo to frame a mayoress portrait. So in honour of this 150th anniversary, the City would like to pay overdue recognition to the contribution of successive mayoresses to the life of the City.”

Cr Alden said first mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo in 1996 was Megan Weston and the role of a mayoress began to fade.

“Since that time there have been six female mayors and countless great female leaders in Greater Bendigo at various levels of government and in leading local organisations, agencies and community groups,” she said.

The City also acknowledged the Dja Dja Wurrung people, whose land the City of Greater Bendigo was settled on.