Bendigo is Australia’s golden town. The shiny stuff was found in nearby rivers, and the Victorian town was born as a result. Many of Bendigo’s Victorian-era buildings originally housed mining companies, and the bars (and brothels) were established to cater for the growing number of prospectors. The Gold Rush had died down by the end of the 19th century, but Bendigo stayed, transforming itself into a beautiful regional capital, with gardens and arcades befitting a much bigger city.
The main street is home to Sun Loong (the longest fake dragon in the world, which comes out to play every Easter), while Hargreaves Mall is the centre of shopping and the Queen Elizabeth Ovalis home to the local cricket and AFL teams. The mines may have been exhausted long ago, but Bendigo still has a heart of gold.
BENDIGO’S TOP 10
10. Goldfields Historic Chinese Cemetery The oldest of its kind in the country, it pays tribute to the Chinese prospectors who helped build early Australia.
5. Central Deborah Goldmine Five hundred metres deep and operational for just under a century, it is one of the most famous mines in the country.
9. Bendigo Gold World Have a go at panning for gold in a muddy creek. You may just strike it rich!
4. Bendigo Talking Tram Creatively named, the tram is equipped with a voiceover as it takes you to and from some of Bendigo’s biggest attractions.
8. Bendigo Pottery The oldest operational pottery in Australia includes a museum, gallery and café.
3. Capital Theatre Created in grand British tradition, with a façade of giant Corinthian columns, the Capital is home to Bendigo’s arts scene.
7. Rosalind Park The lookout tower in the heart of this quaint park provides the best views in town.
2. Sacred Heart Cathedral The stained-glass windows and soaring steeple are an impressive addition to the Bendigo skyline.
6. Bendigo Art Gallery One of the largest regional art collections in Australia, it features local colonial and modern arts, as well as international artists.
1. Golden Museum and Chinese Gardens The gardens are exceptional and the traditional tearoom serves a mean yum cha.
Australia Day starts off with a parade at Lake Weeroona and ends with a party!
The Bendigo Easter Festival is the biggest in the city. The giant Easter Egg Hunt is on for young and old!
December’s Light up the Sky sees parks full of picnickers and city officials hard at work. Then all the lights in town are turned off – except for the Christmas tree in the town centre and candles throughout the parks. Lovely!
WHEN TO GO
- Summer in Bendigo can be extremely hot, with temperatures topping 45ºC (113ºF).
- July offers beautiful winter weather, and it’s also a quieter and more retrospective period for the town.
- Winter in Bendigo provides a great opportunity to rug up and drink mulled wine, something you shouldn’t turn down in a hurry.
· Bendigo is located about 150km (93mi) northwest of Melbourne, close to the geographical centre of Victoria. If driving, parking is readily available and cheap.
· You can catch the train from Melbourne to Bendigo, then a local (but infrequent) bus service can take you to local attractions.
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