So wrote in the 18th century a deaf German musical genius by the name of Ludwig van Beethoven to a lover.
I also say it today, to my beloved Bendigo. This is my love letter to you.
I’ve loved you since the first time I laid eyes on you in the early 1990s. I had the misfortune of spending my teen years in Maryborough and Bendigo was the “big town” down the road.
Once a year, my mum would take my sister and I to Bendigo to clothes shop, have lunch at Pure ‘n’ Natural and generally behave like grown-ups. To my 11-year-old self, you seemed so sophisticated.
After starting my journalism career in Maryborough and later moving to Ballarat, I jumped at the chance to move back to Bendigo in 2000. It was love again. As a foot-loose and fancy-free single girl, I thought Bendigo had everything – and it did.
After working with a guy named Anthony Radford for a few years at the Bendigo Advertiser, I met another guy, who’d later become my husband and we headed overseas, leaving beautiful Bendigo behind.
A few years, one wedding and one baby boy later, we chose to come back, in 2008.
Fast-forward a few more years, add another baby boy, and we’re leaving again, this time as a family. For Echuca.
But I can’t leave without telling you how ardently I admire and love you, as Mr Darcy would say. Where do I start?
The seemingly endless list of things I’ll miss about this place spans the sublime to the ridiculous. It may be futile to try and list them all, but I’ll try.
I’ll miss that sparkling fountain, that park, all those poppet heads, peeking up like inquisitive toddlers on tippy-toes all over town. I’ll miss the trees.
And the green. And the blue of a spring-time sky against the reds and yellows of the bank. The cathedral.
I’ll miss that clunking tram, ridden countless times with an excited boy, or two. I’ll miss our little California bungalow in Golden Square.
I’ll miss afternoons whiled away at Lake Weeroona, sustained by coffee-man lattes and hot-dog-man hot dogs. And mornings at Cooinda Park, watching my eldest trying to work out which slide is indeed, fastest.
I’ll miss the very best sandwich I’ve ever eaten; the chicken, cheese and avocado at the Bendigo CornerStore. And Mason’s beetroot gnocchi. I could go on.
I’ll miss everything you see in the brochures; View Street and Bath Lane in all their gorgeousness, the brilliant pubs, restaurants and boutiques, the wine (although I never did develop a taste for shiraz), the Whipstick, the Chinese Precinct and Bendigo Pottery. Clichéd as it may be, the things that make this city a great place to visit make it a wonderful place to live.
But the visitors don’t get to see everything. Like the people. Ah, the people. Like our no-nonsense Bulgarian GP, who always, always fits us in.
Like the business owners who voted for me as the youngest ever member of the Bendigo Business Council, based solely on a short written pitch. Like the group of high-powered businesswomen who adopted and guided me, out of simple kindness.
I’ll miss the people. People like Wilma, who works at our local Woolworths, who has admired my eldest son, chatted to me about my pregnancy and welcomed my youngest, as an infant, back to the store.
Her smile is like that of a proud grandmother.
I’ll even miss the guy who parks on our nature strip every Golden Square home game, because he was a local at The Boundary, where my husband once worked as a barman.
And he mentioned it, once. That’s the kind of town Bendigo is.
I’ll miss my #Bendigo tweeps and fellow Instagram tragics (I’m talking to up cup_cakr, elfatness, justinrhys, chefsimonsays, mochatwistdesigns, flashx, gerta38, jennethb and andiecoates!). I’ll certainly miss the Bendigo Weekly; the people’s paper and the Bendigo Magazine.
I’ll miss some of the greatest friends I’ve ever made. Farewell, Bendigo.
“Oh God – so near! so far!”• Erin Delahunty is a freelance journalist. She is married with two young boys. Tomorrow she moves to Echuca; with a heavy heart.