Bendigo is about an hour and a half drive northwest of Melbourne in Victoria, and is home one of Australia's oldest and largest Art Galleries, the relaxing Rosalind Park, and some of the finest classical commercial buildings in Australia. Definitely worth a trip to explore this impressive town with an interesting history.
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Bendigo: City of Golden Dreams
Rising out of a gold rush in the middle of the 19th century, Bendigo was once acclaimed as the richest city in the world. Colonial style buildings flank the streets of the CBD, ornately decorated, bringing European influence to the Goldfields region of Central Victoria.
It is easy to immerse oneself in Bendigo’s vibrant history and culture. Descend into the mines, visit galleries showcasing Australian art or take one of the talking trams circling the CBD. Bendigo also boasts a number of gardens, lakes and parks. A short drive from the city centre, over 20 wineries and cellar doors await.
Holiday rentals in Bendigo range from lakeside family homes to historic townhouses with distinct character.
Heritage Buildings in Bendigo
Colonial Victorian architecture lines the streets of Bendigo, reminding passersby that the town was once the leading gold rush destination in the world. Hop aboard a vintage talking tram for historic insights as you are transported past key Bendigo buildings.
Travellers can also go on a tour of the historic Bendigo Town Hall or Post Office, or opt for the self-guided Beautiful Buildings Walk, maps of which are available at the Visitors Centre. Town Hall tours take place twice a week, focusing on the architectural details of this heritage-listed building.
The post office is one of the only such establishments in the world to have gargoyles on its facade. Tours reveal secret passages and tell the story of prominent Bendigo inhabitants. To find out more about Bendigo and its history, visit the Bendigo Historic Society, which hosts monthly talks.
Bendigo’s Gardens and Lakes
When you visit the Bendigo Botanical Gardens, you are likely to spot lizards and coots. After dark, keep your eyes peeled for microbats and possums. One of the oldest botanic gardens in Australia, it opened to the public in 1857. The gardens are also home to river red gums, conifer and various eucalyptus, as well as many rare plant species.
Only 10 minutes from the CBD on foot, Lake Weerona offers 18 hectares of green space, which includes a man-made lake, converted from a mining site in the 1870s. A path surrounds the lake for joggers, walkers and cyclists. Park facilities include a playground, public BBQs and a cafe.
To escape the city centre, go for a stroll through Rosalind Park. Find out about the park’s important role in mining history by following the Discovery Walk. You will pass a creek, bridges, fountains, elaborate statues and well-maintained flower displays.
Bendigo’s Cultural Highlights and Living History
Spend an afternoon at the Golden Dragon Museum to learn all about the Chinese immigrants who helped shaped the Bendigo of yesteryear and continue to shape the city today. To further immerse yourself in Chinese culture, and if you’re visiting over Easter, watch the Chinese dragon parade in the city’s streets.
If you’d like to experience Bendigo’s mining history first hand, book a tour of the Central Deborah Mine. You will travel 61 m below ground, along tunnels where miners once worked. You will be completely in the dark except for a hard hat light, just as the real miners were.
Meanwhile, the Bendigo Art Gallery showcases local and Australian art dating back to the 1850s. A number of smaller antique retailers and galleries can also be found along View Street.
Food and Wine in Bendigo
Festivals and events occur throughout the year, many related to the region’s food and wine. Visitors from around the state flock to the Bendigo Winemakers Festival, at Easter, and Bendigo Heritage Uncorked, each October. At the latter, try local fare at stands set up within the town’s heritage buildings.
On the second Saturday of the month, the Bendigo Community Farmers Market is a hub of activity. Browse stalls selling local wine, produce, and coffee. If you show up on an empty stomach, check out the breakfast fare. Activities include cooking lessons and live music.
Bendigo is a wine producing region, known for its Shiraz. Visit boutique wineries close to town or purchase your favourites at over 20 cellar doors. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else, join one of the many wine tours departing Bendigo.
Getting to Bendigo
Bendigo is set roughly 160 km from Melbourne. You can drive to Bendigo in under 2 hours from the state capital. If you’re planning a Bendigo visit but don’t have a car, trains and buses take you straight there in just under 2 hours, as well.