Hundreds of members of an outlaw bikie gang have descended on a regional city in Victoria’s Central Highlands for their national run.
Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang members from around Australia gathered on Friday in Ballarat, 110km from Melbourne, for the event.
The members, wearing Bandidos patches, are expected to travel to nearby Buninyong, 11km from Ballarat, before returning over the weekend.
In a statement, Victoria Police said on Thursday that officers were “aware” OMCG members were taking part in the run, which ends on Sunday.
“Echo and VIPER taskforces, with local police and specialist units, will be closely monitoring to ensure the safety of all road users,” they said.
“There will be an increased police presence in the Ballarat area over the weekend before members are expected to depart on Sunday.
“Police will be ready to take swift action in the event any OMCG members involved commit criminal, road safety or public order offences.”
Western Region Superintendent Frank Sells told the Herald Sun that police would “not be intimidated” and their presence would be increased.
Ballarat has hosted the Bandidos several times before, with the annual general meeting held last year at popular local restaurant Lazy Moe’s.
The club even posted a classified in Ballarat’s newspaper after the event, thanking the people of Ballarat for their “warm hospitality”.
The Bandidos are one of Victoria’s “big-six” OMCGs that include the well-known Hells Angels and the Black Uhlans.
The Australian chapter of the Bandidos was founded in 1983 by former members of the Comanchero OMCG and based on the US gang with the same name.
The club’s website claims the founding members were “greatly impressed by the brotherhood and hospitality” of the US Bandidos.
That Bandidos were formed in 1966 in Texas with many Vietnam War veterans taking part. The first international chapter was in Sydney.