Elegant inland city built with the wealth from the Victorian goldfields.
For every gold mining ghost town there are prosperous cities like Bendigo which wear their gold weath with both pride and ostentation. Bendigo can proudly boast that it has one of the finest collections of Victorian buildings of any inland city in Australia. The streets are literally awash with huge granite edifices and, in the centre of the city, a fountain dedicated to Queen Victoria's daughter-in-law, Princess Alexandra, sits in the main street. The Roman Catholic cathedral is the largest cathedral in the state outside Melbourne and the best way to experience the city is to join the "talking tram" - the trams date back to the gold rich era of the 1890s. This is a hugely impressive city which, if you want to do it justice, requires two or three days of dedicated exploration.
Bendigo is located 153 km north-west from Melbourne. It is 225 metres above sea level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Bendigo is the only Australian town named after a boxer. In the 1850s there was a world-famous English boxer named Abednego William Thompson. His nickname was Bendigo. Such was his fame that a local shepherd, because he was a good boxer, was called Bendigo in his honour. A local creek was named after the shepherd and so, when the town came to be named, the tradition continued. The town didn't become Bendigo officially until 1891. Before then it was known as Sandhurst.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Great Walks of Bendigo: Heritage Buildings
Within a relatively short distance, comprising a total of eighteen buildings and places of interest, the visitor can experience the full Victorian grandeur of Bendigo. There is a downloadable map at https://www.bookeasy.com.au/website/images/bendigo/Heritage%20Buildings%20Brochure%20Web.pdf. The tour starts at the Visitor Information Centre in Pall Mall, drops down Bull Street to the Town Hall, then winds up to the Golden Dragon Museum, the former Bendigo Gaol (now the Ulumbarra Theatre) and then heads across Rosalind Park to the handsome collection of buildings on View Street.
1. Bendigo Visitor Centre (Former Post Office)
Bendigo's Visitor Centre can provide detailed maps, brochures and guidebooks. It has detailed information on some of Bendigo's most impressive buildings, monuments and structures. The centre is located at 51-67 Pall Mall and can reasonably claim to be the most impressive Visitor Information Centre in the country, tel: (03) 5434 6060. It is open from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm seven days.
2. Post Office and Law Courts/Federation Exhibition
The Post Office and the Law Courts stand tall and impressive in Pall Mall - two public buildings dating from the gold boom of the late 19th century. With their two-storey, elaborate facades and decorative roofs, both reflect the wealth and optimism of the 1880s and 1890s in the city. Indeed, the old post office (1883-87) and the law courts (1892-96) were both designed by the same architect, Major George W. Watson, of the Public Works Department in the French Renaissance style. The post office has a tall clock tower with a carillon (it has only been silenced once - this is believed to have been at a request of Dame Nellie Melba who was trying to sleep at the Shamrock Hotel) and the interior of the law courts, featuring a superb staircase and court room, is considered to be among the finest in Victoria, tel: (03) 5434 6060.
3. Town Hall
Located at 75 Hargreaves Street, this remarkable building is an expression of the city's gold boom. It is even known as "Boom-style" architecture. It was completed in 1859 but extensively altered in 1883-1885. The main hall has a superb ceiling and the complex classical facade is notable for its towers, pediments and porticos. The hall was newly restored in 2003. The interior was decorated by German artist Otto Waschatz with gold leaf and mythical figures. Note the muscular "Atlas" sculptures supporting the clock’s weight. It was designed by architect William Vahland.
4. Former Mechanics Institute & School of Mines and Industries
Located at 137 McCrae Street, this impressive complex of buildings was started in 1864 and designed by W.C. Vahland. The completed buildings were opened in 1879. The Victorian Heritage Database points out the significance of the buildings as: "Both the McCrae Street buildings display fine classical characteristics, while the library is a highly original interior space. The decoration undertaken by important artist and modeller, Otto Waschatz is a fine example of his work; other examples being the Town Halls in both Melbourne and Bendigo. Both the workshop and the chemistry laboratory are significant as remaining examples of Vahland's designs for practical buildings. They remain substantially intact as early examples of such buildings." Check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/129 for a detailed history and description of the building.
5. Golden Dragon Museum & Dai Sum San Precinct
The Golden Dragon Museum is located at 1-11 Bridge Street. It was opened in 1991 and the Guan Yin (Kuan Yum) Temple was consecrated on 30 November 1996. It proudly declares itself "a living history of the Chinese people of Bendigo from the goldrush of the 1850s to the present day." The collection includes memorabilia and processional regalia. There are six dragons housed in the museum.
1. The Loong dragon is reputed to be the world's oldest imperial dragon. It was used during the Australian Federation ceremonies in Melbourne in 1901 and appeared again at the 2001 festivities. Apart from very special occasions it has not been used regularly since 1970. It is thought to be about 110 years old.
2. The Sun Loong dragon is the world's longest imperial dragon. Over 100 metres in length, it requires 52 men to carry it and it features 4,500 scales, 90,000 mirrors and 30,000 beads.
3. The Gansu Loong dragon is an old night dragon and is a present from the people of Hong Kong.
4. The Yar Loong is a night dragon which glows in the dark and is specifically for the night procession at Easter.
5 & 6 are the Ming & Ling Loong dragons which are twin male and female dragons with male and female attendants.
The museum is surrounded by the beautiful Classical Chinese Gardens which were modelled on the Imperial Gardens of Beijing. Features are a traditional water garden and a Kuan Yin temple. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm For more details contact (03) 5441 5044 or http://www.goldendragonmuseum.org.
6. Ulumbarra Theatre (Former Bendigo Gaol)
Located at 10 Gaol Road, this theatre was once the Bendigo Gaol. The gaol was built between 1859 and 1862, had numerous famous inmates including "Chopper" Read, and was eventually closed down in 2006. Today it is a 1,000 seat theatre.
7. Camp Hill Central School
Located in Gaol Road, this hugely impressive school was built in 1877 by contractor, Thomas Corley, on the Police Camp site. The tower was used for years as a lookout by the local fire brigade. The Victorian Heritage Database points out that "The Camp Hill Central School is of architectural significance as one of the most substantial and finely designed school buildings constructed in Victoria. Its vast scale, intact facades and unusual detailing make it an important example of the work of Henry Bastow of the Education Department. In the design of schools, details such as the corbel table are rare, the only other example being at Windsor Primary School (1877), and the inclusion of two bay windows is unique to this school building. The expression of the staircase externally is also unusual." For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/138.
8. Dudley House
Located at 60 View Street, Dudley House, as the City of Bendigo website notes, is "One of the first Government offices erected in Bendigo’s Camp Hill area following the discovery of gold in 1851, it was constructed in 1858-1859 by building contractors Gretch and Cooper for the public works department and served as the residence and office for Bendigo’s first surveyor, Richard Larritt. The building is one of the earliest and most intact 1850s buildings remaining in the central administrative and commercial precinct of Bendigo, now operating as a gallery, function and event space. For more information check out https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/About/Document-Library/dudley-house-brochure.
9. Former Bendigo Fire Station
This handsome building, located at 58 View Street, "was constructed in 1898-9 to the design of prominent local architect, William Beebe. The building was the first fire station in Bendigo built under the provisions of the Fire Brigades Act 1890." There is an extended description of its historical significance at http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/4221/download-report.
10. The Capital
Located at 50 View Street, the building was originally a Masonic Hall (1873-74). It was saved from demolition in 1990 and is currently Bendigo’s performing arts centre. The main theatre is housed in the former ballroom. The architects, Vahland and Getzschmann, designed the impressive Corinthian portico (an 18 metre high portico and six 10 metre Corinthian columns) which is said to be the most imposing of its kind in Victoria." The interior has been fully restored.
11. Bendigo Art Gallery
The art gallery building, located at 42 View Street, was founded in 1887 and located, with help from the local architect, WC Vahland, in what had been the orderly room of the Bendigo Volunteer Rifles. The building was moved to its present premises (at 42 View Street) in 1890.
The Bendigo Art Gallery is now recognised as one of the finest regional art galleries in Australia and boasts a collection which includes both Australian and European paintings including Alfred Sisley's 'Moonlight' and 'Canal Scene' and works by Gustave Courbet and Theodore Rousseau. There is also a Meissen vase dating from the 1840s which was originally owned by the Tsar of Russia. The impressive collection of Australian art includes works by S.T. Gill, Louis Buvelot, Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Emma Minnie Boyd, George Lambert, Rupert Bunny, Grace Cossington Smith, Lloyd Rees, Penleigh Boyd, Ray Crooke, Jeffrey Smart, Clifton Pugh, Fred Williams, John Olson and Kwementwary Kngwarreye. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. There are free guided tours at specific times. Tel: (03) 5434 6088 for more information or check out http://www.bendigoartgallery.com.au/Home for exhibitions.
12. Bendigo Trades Hall
Located at 34 View Street, the Trades Hall, built in 1896, is one of the only purpose-built Trades Hall built in Victoria. "In 1885, the Bendigo Trades and Labour Council was established as an umbrella body. The Council were granted the use of an early mining warden's court in View Street, to which additions were made in 1896 enabling the use of the building as a trades hall. In 1913 a large two storeyed section fronting View Street was added to the Bendigo Trades Hall, designed by architect, JH Hurley." For more information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5227/download-report.
13. Temperance Hall
This impressive building, located between 24-30 View Street and built between 1861 and 1896, was built by the Bendigo Total Abstinence Society, an organisation committed to curbing the hard drinking of the miners. It has been described by the Victorian Heritage Database as "of historical and social merit as one of the few surving examples of purpose built temperance halls in the state. Architecturally, it has a well composed principal facade and the 1860 hall is an important example of severe Palladian Classicism. The hall's interior is of particular note for its finely proportioned internal space, wall detailing, natural lighting and two early frescoes of landscape scenes..Of interest is also the decorative stucco work and concealed total immersion baptismal font under the raised stage, and built of brick or early concrete. This latter feature dates to 1863-64 when the hall was used by a local Baptist congregation." For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/70134/download-report.
14. Sandhurst Trustees
Located at 18 View Street, this building was completed in 1867 and it was initially used as the local Post and Telegraph Office. It has been a stately home for the Sandhurst Trustees since 1891.
The Alexandra Fountain, located at Charing Cross at one end of Pall Mall, was completed in 1881 and opened by the future King George V and his brother, Prince Albert Victor. The fountain was named after Alexandra, the Princess of Wales. It is built of Harcourt granite and is an opulent symbol of the town's prosperity at the beginning of the 1880s.
15. City Family Hotel
Located at 41 High Street, the City Family Hotel was designed by those tireless local architects, Vahland and Getzschmann, in 1872. It is an unusual wedge-shaped corner building which once had an ornate double-storey veranda which, sadly, was removed in the 1960s.
16. Soldiers Memorial Hall
Located at 39 Pall Mall, the Soldiers Memorial Hall was opened in 1921 by the Earl of Stradbroke. "The design of the memorial hall characterised by stripped and distorted classicism popular with public buildings of the early twentieth century, was by local architect Mr GD Garvin of the architectural partnership, W Beebe and GD Garvin. The memorial hall was planned to provide accommodation for a club for returned soldiers, a band rotunda and a publicly accessible honour roll. On Anzac Day, 1926 the Honour Roll, with 2300 names on bronze tablets fitted on the wall of the loggia of the Memorial, was unveiled. It is a true rarity. It has a band rotunda on the roof. For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5150/download-report.
17. Beehive Store and Mining Exchange
The Beehive façade (1871-72) at 18 Pall Mall hides an impressive and ornate interior. Designed by architect, Charles Webb, the store operated from street level, while the two storeys above once housed the busiest stock exchange in the country, with billions of goldmining stocks changing hands. For a detailed description check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/132/download-report.
18. Hotel Shamrock
Located the corner of Pall Mall and Williamson Street, the Shamrock Hotel dates from 1897. It is the third hotel on this site - the first dating from 1854. It is four storeys high and was designed by local architect, Philip Kennedy. The Shamrock was completed at a cost of £25,000 and was designed "to embrace all English and continental ideas in the construction of hotels". At the time it boasted every 'mod con' including a pneumatic lift, marble stairs, electric light and 100 rooms. Highlights are the ornate facade, the corner tower, the veranda and the mansard roofs. Over the years it has played host to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Don Bradman, Dame Nellie Melba and King George V when he was Prince George.
The Banks of Bendigo
Goldfields attract banks and, from the 1860s to the 1880s, the banks that were built in Bendigo were symbols of affluence and opulence. Prominent architects were commissioned to construct ostentatious buildings which today, in an era of internet banking and ATMs, have most commonly been turned into restaurants. The banks worth inspecting are:
* Former Union Bank (1876-77)
Located at 45 View Street the former Union Bank "was built in a Classical style 1876-7 to the design of architects, Smith and Johnson. It consists of a banking chamber and strong room, attached residence, smelting house and outbuildings, all of which survive in a reasonable state of intactness although substantial alterations were made to the residence building in 1909-10. The bank dates from a time when gold mining was changing from shallow alluvial workings to an industry of deep leads and quartz-mining. With the increasing proportion of gold coming from quartz mining, the problem of determining fineness became apparent and facilities for smelting were included alongside the banking premises."
The Victorian Heritage Register records its architectural significance as "a particularly fine example of a bank built in the 19th century. The Classical design and detailing of the colonnaded, recessed facade and the use of the giant Corinthian order are particularly unusual and important. It is also of architectural significance for its relatively intact interior configuration which illustrates early bank practices. The associated buildings such as the smelter, gold safe and residence effectively demonstrate the unique banking practices of this era ... The former Union Bank is of architectural and historical significance as a key component of the streetscape of View Street, one of the finest precincts of nineteenth century buildings in Victoria. The former Union Bank with its rare gold smelting facility is historically significant as a bank building with direct and tangible links to the crucially important history of gold mining and its associated wealth. The bank is a manifestation of the consolidation of Bendigo as a key provincial city in the post Gold Rush era." For more details check out the Victorian Heritage Council Database - http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/144/download-report.
* Former Bank of New South Wales (1866-67)
Located at 27 View Street, the former Bank of New South Wales "was designed by Leonard Terry, and the builders were Langridge and Whitney. Leonard Terry, one of Victoria's leading architects of the time, executed almost all of the bank's new work in the state between 1860 and 1868 ... The design of the Bendigo branch is a simple and elegant example of the Italianate style. The rendered finely detailed and finely proportioned facade, which was originally symmetrical employs arched door and window openings at the ground level while the upper level windows are square headed ... The gold smelting house which was an integral part of the original gold buying office still stands behind the bank. Although the smelting equipment has been removed, the structure is still intact and serves as a link with Bendigo's gold mining past." For more details check out the Victorian Heritage Council Database - http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/143/download-report.
* Commercial Banking Company of Sydney (1863-64)
Located at 10-12 View Street, this impressive building is described in the Heritage Council Database as "erected in 1863-64 (architect: A.L. Smith). The rendered facades face Pall Mall and View Street and intersect at a chamfered corner. The ground floor is arcuated and rusticated. The first floor comprises a series of pedimented windows and a trabeated system of tripled Doric pilasters. This is the longest established bank and oldest bank building in Bendigo ... The bank superbly terminates the row of buildings down View Street and is an essential feature of this important historic city. For more details check out the Victorian Heritage Council Database - http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/142.
* Former Commercial Bank of Australia (1875)
Located at 11 View Point, the Commercial Bank of Australia was built in 1875 to a design by local architects, Vahland and Getzschmann. The Victorian Heritage Register notes of the building's importance: "The former C.B.A. bank ...is ... an important element in the View Street streetscape, one of the finest precincts of nineteenth century buildings in Victoria ... The elaborately decorated building demonstrates the prosperity of Bendigo and the importance of the bank in a gold mining centre. It is illustrative of the civic development that occurred as a result of the mining industry and specifically the commercial development in this locality. View Point became the financial centre of Bendigo and this bank is one of at least seven erected along View Point from the 1860s." For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/140/download-report.
* Former Royal Bank (1908)
Located at 17 View Point, "the former Royal Bank was constructed in 1908 to the design of local architects William Beebe and George Garvin. The three storeyed building, one of the finest and most intact art nouveau designed commercial buildings in the city, was constructed overlooking the Alexandra Fountain at View Point at the heart of the Bendigo business district. Though constructed as the premises for the Royal Bank, the building was used from the late 1920s as the premises of Colonial Mutual Life when internal renovations were undertaken to accommodate offices in the floors of the building previously used for the bank manager's residence." For more information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5229/download-report.
* Former Colonial Australia Bank (1887)
Located at 32 Pall Mall, the Colonial Australia Bank was designed by local architect William Charles Vahland. The Heritage Council Register notes: "The former Colonial Bank, with its richly modelled facade and lofty and finely detailed banking chamber, is an extraordinary example of Boom Classicism style, where the conventions of conservative classical architecture were playfully distorted and elaborated." For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/1544/download-report.
Central Deborah Mine
Located at 76 Violet Street, this mine was first established in 1909 when a shaft was sunk. However work was soon abandoned and new operations did not commence until 1939, with the first dividends being paid in 1945. The mine was closed in 1954, after extracting one tonne of gold from 60,000 tonnes of ore. That one ton (929 kg) would be worth around $46 million today. The mine was purchased by the Bendigo City Council in 1970 for $6,000 and reopened as a public display in 1971.
A fully guided tour sees visitors putting on miner's gear and descending 228 metres below the surface. Not surprisingly it is the deepest underground mine tour in Australia. There is a surface display where you can inspect machinery and mining equipment. It is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. There are a range of tours - the Mine Experience Tour, Underground Adventure Tour and Nine Levels of Darkness Tour. Check out details at http://www.central-deborah.com/visit/tour-times-admission or tel: (03) 5443 8322.
Other Buildings of Interest
Bendigo Vintage 'Talking' Tram and Tramways Museum
Bendigo Vintage Talking Tram, located at 1 Tramways Avenue, uses trams which were introduced to Bendigo as early as 1890. The first trams were battery operated and ran from the railway station to Eaglehawk. However, the hilly terrain exhausted the batteries and steam trams replaced them from 1892. Electric trams with overhead lines came into operation in 1903. The trams ceased to function as general public transport in 1972, but all the trams were retained, and were put into service as 'Talking Trams' or placed in the museum which now has 45 restored trams and prides itself on its ability to revitalise ageing trams. There is a very detailed website - check out http://www.bendigotramways.com/about/history or tel:(03) 5442 2821.
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Located at 66 Short Street, the Sacred Heart Cathedral is an outstanding Gothic cathedral. It is the largest cathedral outside Melbourne and reputedly the last Early Gothic style cathedral built in the world. It was designed by the architect W Tappin, of Reed Smart and Tappin, in 1887 and work commenced in 1896 but it wasn't completed in 1977. The building is made of Barrabol freestone. Australian blackwood was used to build the pews and Sicilian marble was used for the sanctuary walls. The 21-metre stained-glass window on the western wall was made in Birmingham. The cathedral's tallest spire stands at 86 metres with a 3 tonne, 7 metre bronze cross at its apex. The eagle lectern was donated by George Lansell who also built Fortuna Villa.
The Victorian Heritage Database records its significance as: "The Sacred Heart Cathedral is architecturally important as Australia's largest provincial church. Constructed in sandstone and local granite in an authentic Decorated Gothic style, the church is significant as the only cathedral in the State to be completed in this style this century. It closely follows the original 1895 design of William Brittain Tappin (1854-1905) and the nave is an important legacy of some of the finest Victorian period ecclesiastical architecture in this country. The interior is architecturally important for its superb spatial proportions, fine hammerbeam roof, and monumental compound piers and arched arcades ... The Cathedral is also aesthetically important for its internal and external decorative detail. Significant fixtures and fittings include carved stonework, stained glass particularly that in the west window, blackwood pews, timber panelling, and the organ. Notable external fixtures include the cast aluminium spire gargoyles, decorative cast iron balustrading and lamps, door strap-hinges, and the perimeter fence. Important movable objects include the Stations of the Cross painted by prominent nineteenth century Italian ecclesiastical artist A.F.D. Cavallaro which are framed in ornately carved walnut timber, the eagle lectern a gift of Bendigo's quartz king, George Lansell, the Bishop's Chair with its associated chairs carved by Ferdinand Stuflesser from Austrian oak, and the McCormick baptismal font." For more detailed information check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/3311.
Fortuna Villa, located at 22-48 Chum Street, began as a modest single-storey home in 1861. At that time it was built by early mining magnates, the Bellerstedts. Believing the '180 Mine' was largely exhausted, the Bellerstedts sold the house and mine, in 1871, for £30,000, to George Lansell.
Lansell had arrived in Bendigo around 1854 and by the 1860s was one of Bendigo's richest men, known as the 'Quartz King'. When Lansell bought the '180 Mine', he surprised everyone by extracting £180,000 worth of gold within the first few weeks, from a mine many thought was exhausted, making him Australia's first gold mining millionaire. His success in locating and exploiting reef deposits was a major impetus behind the town's general prosperity. The '180' became Bendigo's richest mine and, at 968 metres, possibly the deepest in the world at that time.
The mansion was progressively extended over Lansell's lifetime, with work concluding in 1924. Highlights of the house include an underground tunnel, a cupola staircase, a tower, pressed-metal ceilings, the 1879 Pompeii Fountain with Roman grotto, fine woods, a billiards room, several ballrooms, luxuriously appointed bedrooms (housing such notables as the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, Victorian governors and Dame Nellie Melba), and some very fine acid-etched ruby glass windows (if the Australian scenes and animals look a little strange it is worth remembering that the glass windows were designed in Italy by craftsmen who had never seen Australia).
Attached to the house is an 1875 crushing works, including a 30 head stamper battery. The old settling ponds from the goldmining days were converted into ornamental lakes (only one remains), just as the former mullocks have been turned into fine gardens.
It is possible to visit the house, and enjoy a high tea, on the last weekend of each month. Details are available on the website. Check out http://www.fortuna-villa.com/fortuna-villa-tours.
This impressive red (it symbolises happiness, strength and vitality) Chinese temple is located at Emu Point at the northern terminus of the Talking Tram. It was constructed of timber and handmade bricks during the 1870s by the local Chinese, who were an important ethnic minority on the goldfields around Bendigo. It is divided into three sections - the caretaker's residence, the major temple and the ancestral hall, presided over by two stone kylins. Within are a throne and banners.
The Joss House was constructed to worship the god Guan-Di (Kwan Gong), the god of war and prosperity. The Chinese miners worshipped him as a judge, guide and protector as well as a provider of wealth and prosperity. The complex is open from 11.00 am - 3.00 pm.. For more information and admission fees tel: (03) 5443 8225 or check out http://www.bendigojosshouse.com.
Discover Science & Technology Centre
Located at 7 Railway Place, the Discovery Science & Technology Centre is open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Tuesday to Sunday during school term and every day during school holidays. This is a science centre designed primarily for children and students. It has over 100 interactive exhibits which involve touching, pushing and pulling to demonstrate scientific principles. There is a planetarium, a vertical slide and a gift shop. There are specific times for the Planetarium and Vertical Slide. tel: (03) 5444 4400 or check out http://www.discovery.asn.au for times, costs and to book parties.
Other Attractions in the Area
Bendigo Bushland Trail
Bendigo is completely surrounded by National and Regional Parks. The Box-Ironbark forests have evolved over 40,000 years and, today, are a product of indigenous involvement, the gold rush and a well developed sense of leisure and recreation. The Bendigo Bushland Trail consists of bicycle and walking tracks. The track (there is a map at http://www.bendigo.ws/Attractions/Bush-Walking-Tracks/Bendigo-Bushland-Trail.html and printed maps are available at the Visitor Centre) encircles the urban area of Bendigo and covers a total distance of 65 km. Just follow the blue and gold signposts. This trail goes through pockets of remnant Box-Ironbark regrowth. Look carefully for animal tracks. You may even be lucky enough to see a kangaroo or black wallaby. The obvious place to start the Bendigo Bushland Trail is the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre. As the website explains: "Pick up a map at the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre and choose your direction. Follow the signs featuring an echidna logo to take in views of the goldfields from One Tree Hill Lookout and Diamond Hill. Inspect the region’s wildflowers and orchids at the Salomon Gully Flora Reserve, and visit Bendigo’s historic attractions along the way. Look out for the region's kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and its colourful bird life, including rosellas, honeyeaters, wrens, thornbills and tree creepers." Check out http://www.bendigo.ws/Attractions/Bush-Walking-Tracks/Bendigo-Bushland-Trail.html for more information.
Bendigo Botanic Gardens
Located at 557-559 Napier Street, White Hills, the Bendigo Botanic Gardens were established in 1857 and are included on Victoria's Heritage Register "due to their historical, architectural, scientific, botanical, aesthetic and social significance."
The Gardens form a picturesque landscape around a central billabong. The display gardens include the Cottage Gardens of the Victorian Goldfields, National Lavender Collection, Heritage Canna Collection, Habitat Garden and more. They are open from 7.30 in the morning and there is a downloadable map and visitor guide which can be accessed at http://www.bendigobotanicgardens.com.au/Home/About_Us.
Bendigo's Regional Potteries
Bendigo is famous for its potteries. It is known as the Ceramic Centre of Victoria. The potteries in the area date from the 1850s with the famous Bendigo Pottery being established in 1858. Ask at the Visitor Centre for guidance to the other potteries in the area.
The most famous of all the potteries, Bendigo Pottery, with its large, distinctive beehive kilns, is located at 146 Midland Highway, 6 km north of Bendigo, at Epsom. The pottery, which was established in 1858, is now open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm seven days a week.
The Bendigo Pottery was created by George Duncan Guthrie, a Scot who was an apprentice potter by the age of 12. He travelled to Australia in 1849 and, visiting his father who was living in Bendigo, he noticed the fine white clay of the district. He returned in 1858 and founded his first pottery on Bendigo Creek at Epsom. When a rail from Melbourne reached Bendigo he bought land at Epsom and opened his business in 1863 selling unglazed terracotta pots and salt-glazed stoneware such as bottles and jars. He sold the business in 1882, but continued to work there until 1883 when he retired. By 1888 11 kilns were in operation and the site employed 130 people (30 just for cutting wood for fuel). Today there are ten kilns left but they have not been fired since 1989.
The fortunes of the Pottery waxed and waned. There was a destructive fire in 1900, Guthrie's death in 1909, a flood (which caused two hot kilns to explode) in 1928, the Great Depression of the 1930s and another fire in 1941. Toby jugs decorated with war figures during World War I, and the demand for mugs, bowls, dishes and bottles for troops in World War II helped keep the business afloat. It became a tourism complex in 1971.
The site offers a total tourist experience with free clay play for kids and wheel throwing lessons, a potter's workshop, lessons in creating a clay pot on a wheel, an Interpretative Museum, an antiques and collectables centre, a number of art galleries, an olive oil store and a cafe. The complex includes five rare and historic bottle kilns from 1868, an 1880s two-storey brick stable block, striking beehive kilns, rectangular kilns, related red-brick chimney stacks and a timber crane jib. For more information tel: (03) 5448 4404 or check out http://www.bendigopottery.com.au.
Greater Bendigo National Park
Located 8 km from Bendigo, the Greater Bendigo National Park covers an area of 170 square kilometres and protects some of the highest quality Box-Ironbark forest in north-central Victoria, along with mallee and grassy woodlands. The ideal time to visit is between August and October when the wildflowers are most abundant and colourful, particularly the brilliantly flowering Whirakee Wattle, found only in the Bendigo area. It is a delightful park for nature study, bird watching, walking, picnics, horse riding and camping. If you are in the park in the early morning or late afternoon you might see the black wallaby, eastern grey kangaroo and, if you're very lucky, the echidna. The 60 km Bendigo Bushland Trail goes through part of the park, and the Great Dividing Trail begins in this park and links Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat. Most roads in the park are unsealed. There is a downloadable, useful Park Note which includes maps and information about the walking trails in the park. Check out http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/315586/Park-note-Greater-Bendigo-National-Park.pdf.
Bendigo Creek Trail
Bendigo Creek Trail starts at Crusoe Reservoir and is a 17 km route which traces its course north-east and includes Gateway Park, Central Deborah Gold Mine, Rosalind Park, the Chinese Precinct, Lake Weeroona, the Joss House, the White Hills Cemetery, the Bendigo Botanic Gardens and it eventually reaches the Bendigo Pottery in Epsom. Although the trail is undulating it is an easy route which will take two to three hours and includes many of the highlights of the town. Although it can be walked it is popular as a cycling route.
* Prior to European settlement the Dja Dja Wurrung Aborigines lived in the area.
* The first European into the district was the explorer Major Thomas Mitchell who passed through the area on his journey to the western district of Victoria.
* By 1840 squatters had moved in and sheep were being successfully grazed.
* In 1851 gold was discovered. No one knows who made the first discovery. A committee in 1890 claimed that the first discoverer was Henry Frencham but there is also a claim that a man named William Johnson was the first person to pick up a nugget. According to one popular legend, Margaret Kennedy, wife of the station master at Ravenswood Run, was the first person to find gold.
* The Bendigo gold seam covered an area of 3,600 hectares.
* From 1851 until 1954 (the year of the last gold mining in the district) 25 million ounces of gold were extracted from the area around Bendigo.
* Bendigo grew as a series of small ethnic communities. The Irish moved into the district known as St Killians. The Cornish established themselves at Long Gully. The Germans settled at Ironbark Gully and the Chinese at Emu Point.
* In 1854 there were over 3,000 Chinese on the Bendigo goldfields.
* By 1861 Cobb & Co ran a special coach service from Bendigo to Guildford especially for Chinese passengers.
* By the 1860s the goldfields had changed from small operations to major mines with deep shafts.
* The railway reached the town in 1862.
* The municipality became a borough in 1863.
* By 1870 Bendigo, or Sandhurst as it was known at the time, was the most important gold mining site in the world. As a producer of gold from quartz it was unequalled for the next thirty years.
* The Bendigo Easter Fair was first held in 1871. It featured a parade with historic Chinese processional dragons. That year the town became a city.
* By 1890 the city had a network of trams.
* The town officially changed its name from Sandhurst to Bendigo in 1891.
* Mark Twain visited the city in 1897 and noted: 'The town is full of towering chimney stacks and hoisting works, and looks like a petroleum city.'
* Gold mining stopped in 1954.
* In 1994 the City of Bendigo was expanded and became the City of Greater Bendigo.
* Today Bendigo is a charming and elegant rural centre - one of the fastest growing rural cities in Victoria - with an economy driven by tourism, industry and servicing the surrounding agricultural district.^ TOP
Bendigo Visitor Centre, 51-67 Pall Mall, tel: (03) 5434 6060 or 1800 813 153, Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm seven days.^ TOP