Etched into the heart of Australian folklore – Bendigo still bears the scars of its golden past. An incredible story about a town that grew into a city, once dubbed ‘the richest city in the world’ in the mid-1880s. Uncover the stories bridging the past, present and future of one of Australia’s most famous cities with our list of the best places to go in Bendigo.
One of Australia’s oldest and boldest regional art galleries resides right here in the heart of Bendigo. Unveiled in 1887, the Victorian-style 19th-century Bendigo Art Gallery quickly became the talk of the town, increasing in size as popularity grew. With impressive artworks spanning the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, the gallery features a majesty of revered artists with a particularly strong 19th-century Australian and European flavour. Other notable collections include – First Nations, Australian fashion, 19th-century international and modern & contemporary exhibits. Meticulously curated through a series of innovative exhibitions, public programs, and events, the Bendigo Art Gallery continues to capture the hearts and minds of thousands of visitors every year. Brimming with treasures, the gallery features a diverse range of artistic expression showcasing over 5,000 pieces of incredible artwork. Blending art, culture, and history, weave your way through the gallery’s storied hallways bathing in the heavenly ambience – a sea of colour, creativity, and imagination. Having solidified its reputation as one of Australia’s premier regional art museums, this is one place you cannot miss on your next trip to Bendigo.
Step out from the shadows and into the light on this fully immersive 20th-century gold mining escapade at Central Deborah Gold Mine. Descend deep into the underworld of a time bygone through a labyrinth of enigmatic tunnels and arched passageways 61m below the earth’s surface. One of Bendigo’s last operational gold mines until its closure in 1954, the Central Deborah Gold Mine extracted almost 1 metric tonne of gold over its 15-year lifespan, reaching depths of up to 412m in its prime. In the late 1960s, the local community lobbied for the Bendigo City Council to preserve Bendigo’s rich mining history, leading the council to purchase the mine in 1970. Over the years the mine has evolved, shedding light on the harsh realities met by 20th-century gold miners. The Mine Experience Tour takes guests on a journey 61m underground, exploring the lifestyle, conditions and pure grit required by these remarkable ironmen, day in, day out to get the job done. On the surface, you can explore an assembly of old vintage mining machinery, old heritage-listed buildings, museum exhibits and even climb the poppet head (top of mine) for panoramic views of Bendigo city.
A defining piece of Bendigo’s colourful history helps breathe life into this wondrous city. An inner-city sanctuary, Bendigo’s saving grace offers an enriching intimate experience with mother nature, felt within the intricate confines of the Bendigo CBD. A place of peace and tranquillity, Rosalind Park still bears the scars of its golden past, elucidated through art strewn across its seasoned lands. Aesthetically pleasing and food for the soul, bask in the beauty of the park’s beautiful old gardens, manicured lawns, and historic landmarks that depict Bendigo’s stunning transformation from a goldfield town to a full-fledged city. Get lost in the splendour of the grand elm avenues, lush fernery, ornate conservatory, cascading water features, Chinese gardens, and ostentatious neoclassical statuary. A great place to enjoy a picnic lunch and some well-earned rest and relaxation, spy the city’s contrasting landscapes perched atop the old Poppet Head lookout Tower.
A charming ornamental lake and reserve nestled within the serene surrounds of East Bendigo. A lone wolf fighting the city’s impending urban sprawl, the reserve has become a welcome respite amidst the urban jungle for many city dwellers. An enchanting lake enveloped by verdant parklands, the reserve features a lovely boardwalk, beautifully manicured lawns, a brand-new kid’s playground, wide open spaces, BBQs, and other basic amenities. Established in 1878, the idea for the contrived lake circulated via a vision from former City Mayor Duggall McDougall. What was once the final resting place of an old abandoned mine is now one of Bendigo’s most popular city parks. Lust for leisure with a scenic walk, run or ride on the sealed footpath bordering the lake. A wonderful setting for a picnic lunch; breeze in your hair, birds chiming in the trees – activate full zen mode at this glorious urban reserve.
Bendigo’s Chinese roots were cultivated at the inauguration of the Victorian gold rush in 1851, as thousands of Chinese hopefuls arrived on Australian shores in the hope of striking gold. Thriving Chinese communities quickly developed, having a profound effect on Bendigo’s future. Founded in 1991, the Golden Dragon Museum stands as Bendigo’s most prominent Chinese emblem, commemorating China’s long-standing association with the Victorian gold rush. Donning a national profile, the Golden Dragon Museum quickly became the first accredited museum in Victoria, celebrating the culture, history, and influence of Chinese Australians. You will be in awe at the museum’s lavish array of Chinese architecture, historical exhibits, 19th-century textiles, ancient Chinese artefacts, and what is believed to be the world’s oldest and longest imperial dragons. With hundreds of relics on display, the museum is more than just an arcade of archaic antiquity, built complete with gorgeous Chinese gardens and a beautiful Buddhist temple devoted to the Goddess of Mercy. Only a short walk from Rosalind Park, immerse yourself in the incredible stories, bridging the past, present and future of one of Victoria’s most historical cities.