There is just so much to see and do in this historic city known as ‘The Heart of the Goldfields’, located about 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. Built on what was one of the world’s richest goldfields, Bendigo’s stock of Victorian-era architecture and grand boulevards, financed by fantastic gold mining profits - is prolific and well-preserved.
A modern thriving town, Bendigo is large enough to offer quality accommodation and restaurants, but small enough for visitors to easily discover its character. With a temperate climate throughout the year makes Bendigo the perfect base for exploring central Victoria’s many attractions: the regional wineries, the fishing and watersports at nearby Lake Eppalock or Lake Cairn Curran, the absorbing array of heritage homes and public buildings gracing the city’s grand boulevards and the Castlemaine Market precinct, entrancing flora and fauna parks and nature trails tailored for both bushwalkers and cyclists.
The main thoroughfare, Pall Mall, not only embraces much of the CBD, but it also boasts some of the city's finest old buildings. The historic Pall Mall showcase includes the Beehive Store, site of an early trading exchange, the ornate post office (1887), the restored Rosalind Park conservatory, the forbidding Bendigo Gaol (1860s) and the Shamrock Hotel. Pall Mall can certainly justify local claims that it presents Australia’s finest 19th century streetscape.
While Bendigo’s heritage was forged in gold, the city’s past has also been enriched by the Chinese connection. In 1854, there were more than 3000 Chinese on the Bendigo goldfields and, by 1861, they formed such a distinctive community that Cobb & Co ran a special coach service for Chinese passengers.
Talking Tram - Trams are a lingering, civic tradition in Victoria and in Bendigo you can travel the tracks while learning just about everything there is to know about this historic golden city. The talking tram travels an 8 kilometre loop, which begins at the Central Deborah Goldmine and takes a sweep through the heart of Bendigo to the Chinese Joss House.
London-style Bus tours - around major attractions
Bushland Trail - The National Parks and Wildlife Service has built a 65 kilometre bushland trail which circles the city. The trail allows walkers and cyclists to make their way through box and ironbark forests, which are a sanctuary for a great variety of birds. The trail also skirts old mining sites such as Diamond Hill and One Tree Hill
Self Guided Heritage Walk - Bendigo, where the great Victorian gold rush began in 185l, is steeped in history and such stunning old buildings as the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Alexandra Fountain and the Renaissance-style Post Office. Brochures available from Visitor Information
Golden Dragon Museum - A must is the Golden Dragon Museum, which not only traces Chinese history from the gold fields but houses the largest display of processional regalia in the world, including the world’s oldest and largest imperial dragons. The collection of dragons alone makes a museum visit memorable. The six ceremonial dragons include the 100 metre 'Sun Loong' Dragon, which is the longest in the world and the Loong Dragon, which celebrated Federation in 1901 and is the oldest imperial dragon in the world.
The Joss House - which includes a major temple, an ancestral hall and a caretaker’s residence
Lookout tower - in Conservatory Gardens in Rosalind Park
Discovery Science and Technology Centre - with hands-on displays
Bendigo Wool Mills - for fine Australian wools and yarns. Tours available
Visitor Information - Old Post Office, Pall Mall.
Life for the Chinese of Bendigo was centred on the Joss House, built from hand-made bricks in 1860. The Joss House, which includes a major temple, an ancestral hall and a caretaker’s residence, was dedicated to Kwan Gung, a second century general worshipped as a judge, guide and protector. The adjoining Golden Dragon Museum was opened in 1991 in recognition of the Chinese community’s contribution to the culture and development of Bendigo.
Festivals - Madison 10,000 Cycling Race (March), Easter Fair (Easter) & Wine Festival, Chrysanthemum Championships (April), Bendigo Heritage Uncorked, Orchid Club Spring Show (October), National Swap Meet for Vintage Cars and Bikes(November), Tram Spectacular (December)
Things to do
In the area
Guided Prospecting Tours - of goldfields and self guided Goldfields Tourist Route
Bendigo Pottery - café, sales and see potters at work, plus wildlife display at Living Wings and Things nearby
Fortuna Villa - 2 km south. The historic home which best reflects the importance of gold to the city is the aptly named Fortuna Villa. The home was bought in 1853 by migrant brewery worker turned speculator, George Lansell, whose shrewd investments in the gold fields earned him untold wealth. And his mansion kept growing in rhythm with his increased wealth. The crowning glory was bestowed on Lansell's return from a visit to Italy where he was so impressed by Pompeii's Fortuna fountain that he had a replica made for his home.
One Tree Hill Observation Tower - for panoramic views
Bendigo Cactus Gardens - at White Hills
Whipstick State Park - cycling, bushwalking, gold-panning in gullies
Hartlands Eucalyptus Factory - and historic farm with tours on Sundays
Wineries Balgownie Estate Winery, Chateau Leamon winery
Goldfields Mohair Farm - at Lockwood