With its rich heritage, there’s something regal about Bendigo. The town is brimming with cafes, shops and parks, as well as ornate, gold-rush-era architecture. Century-old gardens border the city's many attractions, including a world-class arts precinct housing one of Australia's oldest and largest regional galleries, the Bendigo Art Gallery. Art permeates the town, especially with the opening of The Schaller Studio – a recent addition to the Art Series Hotel Group.
Rug up and take a stroll to absorb the grandeur of the Law Courts, Old Bendigo Post Office and Hotel Shamrock. Or spend the afternoon among the flowers that fill the Rosalind Park Conservatory.
All of that and the chance to descend into the gold mines spanning 3600 hectares below the city's surface.
The Schaller Studio
Renowned for cherry-picking the country's cultural hubs, the Art Series Hotel Group, appropriately, chose Bendigo as the location for a four-star hotel in 2014. Dedicated to Australian artist, Mark Schaller, The Schaller Studio houses more than 120 pieces of the artist’s vibrant, original works. Schaller has signed the walls of each of the stylish rooms with a swathe of his signature yellow. A large communal space encourages guests to lounge on its sofas and play one of the many board games on offer. There’s a cafe, open fireplace and plenty of art books to inspire. Yellow Lekker bikes are available for hire so guests can cruise around and soak up the surrounds, including nearby Lake Weeroona.
Brewhouse Coffee Roasters (BCR)
Brewhouse’s menu offers all the breakfast and lunch favourites, including shakshuka, pan-fried saganaki and a wagyu-steak sanga. Its high ceilings, shared tables and exposed-brick walls splashed with bold graffiti add to Brewhouse’s buzzing atmosphere. But it's Brewhouse’s coffee nous (obvious immediately from the aroma when you step inside) that really impresses. Sourcing beans from all over the world, BCR handpicks and roasts them all in small batches on site. There is also a selection of ground beans available for purchase. BCR wholesales to more than 240 customers Australia wide, including Sugardough Bakery in Brunswick and Fix Espresso in Moonee Ponds.
Percy and Percy
When you enter Percy and Percy's charming terrace-house-turned-cafe you’ll feel instantly at home. Its walls are lined with photographic works by local artist Kate Monotti, and breakfast and lunch are served all day. This little gem dishes up homemade cheeseburgers, falafels and slow-roasted, pulled-pork salad. There are also afternoon favourites: flourless lemon and passionfruit cake. Produce is sourced from Quin's Bluebird Fruiterer and Grocer nearby. Treats here are best enjoyed while relaxing on one of Percy and Percy's comfy cushioned chairs.
Corner Hargreaves and Baxter Streets
03 5442 2997
Mr. Beebe's Eating House & Bar
Bendigo's recently revamped Eating House & Bar borrows its name from 19th-century local mayor and architect, William Beebe, who designed many of the city's landmark buildings, including the impressive old Colonial Mutual Life Building. A sharing ethos informs the menu. It consists of tasting plates, a cured, smoked and preserved meats selection and larger dishes, such as wild rabbit in two parts, corn-fed duck breast and pan-seared flathead tails. Though sleek, the interior is punctuated with Victorian accents that pay homage to Beebe. This is the perfect place to enjoy a Saturday night meal over a drop of regional wine.
Rifle Brigade Hotel
Having serviced Bendigo locals since 1887, the iconic Rifle Brigade Hotel has recently been restored to its gold-rush glory. Located in the heart of the arts precinct, Rifle Brigade is always bustling. Dark wooden floors and trimmings are offset by white walls and black-and-white portrait photographs of some of the pub’s most loved regulars – or ‘pub flies’ as they’re affectionately known. Enjoy classic pub fare matched with a James Squire from the tap.
Bendigo Art Gallery
No visit to Bendigo is complete without a visit to arguably Australia's most important regional gallery. Established in 1887, the gallery's collection is extensive, with an emphasis on 19th-century art, Australian art from 1800s onwards and contemporary Australian pieces. The permanent collection is complimented by temporary exhibitions, including The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, which will exhibit from August 2–November 9. The exhibition explores, from the eyes of the ancient Greeks, the human form as a conduit to understanding the human condition. More than 100 stunning works have been selected from the British Museum’s revered Greek and Roman collection, currently touring Europe, Asia and the Americas, before arriving in Bendigo in August. Works on display will include Discobolus – an iconic marble statue of a discus thrower from the second century AD.
Bendigo is home to some delightful parks and gardens, including the wonderfully leafy Rosalind Park. There's plenty to explore on this historic site, which formed Government Camp in the 1850s. A creek, ornate statues, a fernery and magnificent conservatory will transport you to a lush, bygone era.
Trove Makers' Market
As far as arts-and-crafts markets go, this one is top notch. You won't find wall-to-wall useless knick-knacks here (maybe just one or two). But, on the whole, there are quality pieces to be snapped up. A couple of stalls to keep an eye out for are Tra La La, with its handmade vintage designed wooden blocks and plaques, and Mary and Bright, selling brightly coloured FIMO jewellery pieces. More than 40 stalls offer a range of paintings, jewellery, photography, furniture, clothing, food, coffee and decor. The Trove Makers’ Market is held on the third Sunday of every month, 10am–2pm.
The Styling Bird
This gorgeous little boutique is owned by sisters Chelsea and Jess Pawsey. It stocks hand-selected Australian and international labels, such as Cameo and Finders Keepers, as well as shoes, accessories, homewares and jewellery (including Mary and Bright).
This article is presented by V/Line.