By Mitchell Clarke
The Cardinia Cultural Centre and surrounding Lakeside became a hive of activity as 100 of the shire’s newest residents officially became citizens during an Australia Day ceremony.
Once the official formalities concluded, thousands of people gathered to celebrate the 26th of January at a fun and free community event organised by the Lakeside Residents Group.
The Lakeside Residents Group (LRG) were awarded Cardinia Shire Council’s community event of the year for their 2019 event, and said this year’s event was even bigger and better.
“We were just so rapt about receiving the award, it was just the icing on the cake,” LRG president Wendy Andrews said.
“To win it on the day and to get up on stage and be able to say this was the best event in the shire and then go outside to celebrate the event, it was just great.
“We would like to thank council for trusting us with this huge task. There was obviously a need for an event that brings the community together on this day and we believe we delivered.
“It was wonderful to see our new Australians come out from their citizenship ceremony and enjoy our Aussie hospitality.”
From live music to live animals, face painting to hair art and jumping castles to train rides, the event hosted something for everyone in Cardinia’s diverse community.
Embracing our diversity was a focus area for the organising committee, who ensured all nationalities and cultures were represented in the day.
“We’re here welcoming new people into the community, so the multicultural aspect was a large focus for us,” Ms Andrews said.
“We aren’t just Caucasians in our shire, there are a lot of other cultures around and when you start getting involved in different groups you get to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds.”
With a wide range of fare on offer, attendees could try curry cups and mango lassi or enjoy the traditional snag in bread and soft drink whereas the little ones indulged in typical carnival food like hot dogs and popcorn.
But the event was so well received, all food ran out with an hour and a half of the event to go.
“We received a lot of positive feedback from this event and in all honesty, it really couldn’t have been any better,” Ms Andrews said.
Bass MP Jordan Crugnale, Gembrook MP Brad Battin and La Trobe MP Jason Wood put aside politics to celebrate the greater community, with Ms Crugnale sponsoring performances by African drummers and Mr Wood sponsoring the ‘Animals of Oz’ showcase.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police, CFA and SES volunteers and Neighbourhood Watch set up tents to interact with the masses.
The Lakeside Residents Group thanked all community groups who donated their time to get involved in the day.
“If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t have done it. It really was a community effort,” Ms Andrews said.
The group will now look towards organising their next event, a movie night which is slated for about five weeks time, before beginning to prepare Australia Day 2021.
“Oh we’ll definitely be back next year bigger and better,” she added.