Yes, ‘B’ is for Bendigo, but also the bountiful interests of bodies in its beautiful ‘burbs and boroughs.

Writer: Sarah Harris – Photographer: David Field

The Bendigo Budgerigar and Caged Bird Society Inc may sound like the title of an Alexander McCall Smith novel, but this institution is no flight of fancy.
The budgie club celebrates its 60th anniversary with a special show at the Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre on May 17, which promises to be well worth a stickybeak.
But be warned, you might just find yourself captivated like Marilyn Benbow.
“I bought a couple of pet budgies from someone in the club in the 1990s,” Marilyn recalls. “They said, come along to a meeting and have a look at the birds and that was how I got hooked. Now I have at least 300 birds.
“I like them because of their colours and their personalities.
“You get the whole range of temperaments. You get the cranky ones and the lovely friendly ones. They have marital spats and jealousies, there are good mothers and shocking mothers, the cheeky ones and ratbags – the whole gamut.
“I reckon it’s human society with feathers on.”
Show budgies, or English budgies as they are often called, are two to three times larger than those found in the wild or in pet shops, with more pronounced markings and colour variations owing to years of selective breeding.
The appeal of budgie breeding and showing is that it’s a hobby accessible to all ages.
“The beauty of budgies is that they are a bit hardier than, say, canaries,” club president Barry Butcher says.
They can also be quite lucrative, with prize birds attracting up to $4000 at auction.
“It can get quite cut-throat in some of the bigger clubs, but here in Bendigo we like to help one another along, with members ranging from juniors just starting out to 80-year-olds.”
Bendigo members have enjoyed their share of success on the show scene with Bryan Hunt winning the English yellow face blue class at the 2013 Australian National Budgerigar Championships.
The late, great Bendigo budgie man Erwin Baker – one of the longest-standing members of the club who took over breeding the petite parakeets after his son lost interest – won best bird in Victoria in 2005.
The Bendigo Budgerigar and Caged Bird Society Inc meets at the Guide Hall in Atkins Street, North Bendigo, on the third Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm.
For more information call (03) 5446 2212.