There is so much to see and do when you go exploring Bendigo that you will easily be able to spend a week in this lovely regional city.
Bendigo is a wonderful mix of old and new. Once known as the world’s richest city, thanks to the Gold Rush of the mid to late 1800’s, most of the historic buildings remain and are in pristine condition. Aside from the European heritage, Bendigo also has a rich Chinese history.
Bendigo is located in central Victoria. At a little under two hours drive north of Melbourne, Bendigo also makes for a great weekend getaway.
EXPLORING BENDIGO – THINGS TO DO
RIDE THE HISTORIC TALKING TRAM
Trams were once the main source of transport around Bendigo. Now they are a fantastic way to explore the city and learn about the history of Bendigo at the same time. You can also learn about the traditions of Bendigo’s first people on the Dja Dja Wurrung Tram.
The trams stop at most of the major attractions around Bendigo and you can hop on and off the trams as often as you like during the day.
When you return to the Tram Depot you can take a self-guided tour of the depot and workshop. Bendigo’s Tram Depot is the oldest continually operating tram depot in Australia. It was completed in 1903 for the operation of electric trams. There are a total of 45 trams in the Bendigo tram fleet and 13 of those are operational.
Tickets for the Talking Tram start at $18.00 per adult. Combined tickets for entry to the Mine Experience and Joss House Temple can also be purchased.
VISIT A WORKING GOLDMINE
Almost right in the middle of Bendigo you will find the Central Deborah Gold Mine. Gold was first discovered in Bendigo in 1851. The Central Deborah Gold Mine operated from 1939 to 1954 and produced 929 kilograms of gold in that time. That gold would be valued at around $50 million today.
Tours are available that cater to everyone including the kids. To get an overall feel for how gold was mined we took the Level 2 tour where you descend to 61 metres underground. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and we learnt a lot about how gold was mined back in the day. There was a lot to look at and lots of info to take in. Was a very educational tour to go on.
I recommend taking a jacket with you as it can get quite chilly down below. I also recommend wearing good walking shoes as the path ways inside the mine were wet and a little slippery in some places. You will also be required to wear a hard hat at all times whilst below the ground.
Once the mine tour was over we had the chance to wander around the above ground section of the mine. This included being able to climb up to the ‘trestleway’ and walk around under the poppet head. There is also an area where you can try your hand at panning for gold as well as an interactive museum.
Tour Prices start at $32.00 for an adult but are slightly cheaper if you combine it with your tram ticket. Children must be over 3 years of age to participate in the tour.
JOIN A WALKING TOUR
Bendigo has such a wonderfully rich history. A great way to explore the city is by taking one of the daily City Walking Tours. The walks take you through the historic city centre and are a must for any history buffs! You can even do an evening walking tour that finishes with wine! Tours last for around two hours. Tour prices start at $25.
There are also tours of the Town Hall and the former Post Office available.
CLIMB THE POPPET HEAD
For a truly spectacular view of what felt like the whole of Bendigo you must climb to the top of the Poppet Head Lookout. The poppet legs are from the Garden Gully United Gold Mine and were donated to the city in 1931. Sunset is the best time to go and you will certainly get a mini workout as you make your way to the top as there are 125 steps to climb but the views are worth it!
The Poppet Head Lookout is located in Rosalind Park in the centre of Bendigo.
No trip to Bendigo would be complete with visiting the famous Bendigo Pottery. Opened in 1858, Bendigo Pottery is Australia’s oldest working pottery. Some of the old brick kilns form part of an interpretive museum and you can see how pottery was made back in the 1800’s.
There is a large shop area to browse through or can take a pottery class if you wish. Entry to the museum is just $8.00.
Adjoining Bendigo Pottery is a large Antique market stall area where you can purchase everything from clothing to bric-a-brac from a variety of different stalls.
Outside there are a number of old kilns and buildings that are still in use.
BOTANIC GARDENS AND ROSALIND GARDENS
Bendigo has some lovely parks and gardens that are perfect to wander through on a hot day. The Botanic Gardens are located in the suburb of White Hills just off the Midland Highway. These gardens were established in 1857 so have plenty of lovely shade trees as well as picnic areas and a kids playground. The highlight though was definitely the bird avery which had a number of parrots and Cockatiels in it.
Rosalind Park is the park area in the centre of the city. There are plenty of tree lined paths to wander along and it is a good starting point to explore the historic buildings that surround the park.
THE GREAT STUPA OF UNIVERSAL COMPASSION
This was without doubt the biggest surprise of our time in Bendigo. The last place you would expect to find a Buddhist temple is in rural Victoria. But head just 13 kilometres out of Bendigo city and and you will find the largest Buddhist temple outside of Asia.
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is a truly astonishing site. The grounds and decorations inside the Temple – especially the massive carved jade Buddha is stunning. The temple is still under construction and is not expected to be completed for a number of years. There will be extensive gardens surrounding the temple and people of all faiths are welcome.
Entry into the Temple is free and everyone is welcome to visit and wander around the grounds. You will also find a vast collection of sacred Buddhist relics and holy objects including the Jade Buddha and a four-metre high statue of Guru Rinpoche.
WHERE TO STAY
We visited Bendigo as part of the Follow the Sun Relay. We stayed at the Big4 Park Lane Holiday Park which is located about six kilometres out of town.
It has a great camp kitchen, roomy sites and the amenities were always clean and tidy. There were also plenty of cabins to choose from. If you happen to be travelling with kids then Park Lane is a great spot for them to as there is a jumping pillow and a swimming pool. But best of all it has it’s very own indoor play centre which is free for guests to use.
We really enjoyed our time exploring Bendigo. We found lots to do in the time we were there but know we missed things as well, which means we will just have to visit again some time!