On February 7, 2009, Bendigo became part of a flashbulb memory, one of those significant historical occasions for which we can all answer the question – where were you when?
Writer: Colin King – Photographs: David Field
Where were you when the Queen Elizabeth II came to town?
The answer is the same for the majority of Bendigonians – they were on the streets or at the QEO watching Her Majesty make her way through the city in the year of 1954. The all-inclusive turnout prompted Police to issue a prior warning for people to lock their houses securely lest a dishonest few were not among those attending.
For those of us who were not around at the time, it is impossible to imagine the popularity newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed on the first ever visit to Australia by a monarch. Prime Minister Bob Menzies gushingly quoted the word of Thomas Ford, “I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die.” Seventy per cent of Australia’s then population of 10 million flocked to see her. This staggeringly high proportion was blown out of the water by the Bendigo crowd, which swelled to 162 per cent of the city’s then population.