Luxury Glamping at Balgownie Estate
Just a short drive from the centre of Bendigo is Balgownie Estate, a sprawling 80-acre vineyard with a brand new glamping wing.
It features both bell and safari tents placed in a dappled patch of bushland that looks out to row upon row of grapes. No luxuries are spared. The bell tents are equipped with an in-room fridge, air-conditioner, mini bar (full of wine, naturally), lounge, bathrobes, and a deck to recline on with drink in hand.
The safari tents take things up a notch, with added in-room bathroom, pot-belly fireplace, dining table and a sunken bathtub built into the deck. There are cottages and a homestead too, if luxury camping isn’t your thing.
Bendigo Art Gallery
Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018
The globally celebrated Finnish brand Marimekko is renowned for its bold patterns, vibrant colourways and timeless design. Lesser known is it was also a pioneer of feminism.
The creation of Finnish textile artist Armi Ratia, Marimekko translates to “Mary Dress”, and the brand’s early designs of A-line, free-fitting robes and oversized button-ups with practical pockets helped unshackle women from the restrictive silhouettes of the 1950s.
Exclusive to Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia, Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018 features more than 60 Marimekko outfits from throughout the decades, as well as homewares, swathes of fabric, sketches, photography and film, and has been curated by the gallery’s Leanne Fitzgibbon in partnership with Harry Kivilinna from the Design Museum in Helsinki (the brand’s city of origin). The exhibition runs until June 11.
Wine Bank on View
Wine walk along View Street
This wine-aligned stroll along View Street in the heart of Bendigo’s arts precinct will see you visit a winemaker, a wine merchant and a restaurateur (serving wine).
Lincoln Riley grows five acres of nebbiolo on his property at Harcourt North and releases them under the name North Run. His partner Marsha bakes bread, croissants and seasonal pithiviers daily. They pair the two at Harvest Food and Wine. Start here and sample a glass of North Run paired with a selection of charcuterie, before making your way to stop number two.
At the Wine Bank on View, you’ll be served a cheese board and a glass of your choice of local wine – stemming from Bendigo, Heathcote or greater Central Victoria. The team usually has a red, white, rosé and a sweet option (perhaps a Mitchelton botrytis-affected riesling) ready to pour. Take a seat inside the heritage-listed 1860s-built bank and admire the ornate ceilings or sit at tables out front.
The final stop is Rocks on Rosalind, where you’ll enjoy a selection of dishes matched to your choice of a red or white. The red is oftentimes the restaurant’s own blend, kept on tap. Another 1860s-built bank, the space is adorned with historic features including the original vault door (you can dine inside) and the cellar-turned-dining room underground.
The Gin Experience at The Dispensary
Hidden down Chancery Lane, The Dispensary keeps about 110 craft beers, 80 single malt whiskies, and 50–70 gins on its shelves. Given the large number of interesting small-batch gins coming out of Australia at the moment, the bar team is kicking off gin masterclasses from April to make sure sippers are getting the most out of their G&T.
Held monthly, The Gin Experience will take patrons through the history of gin and distilling methods. Discover the types of botanicals used in gin, learn the stories of the makers and taste a variety of Australian gins with unusual and distinctive profiles. There’ll also be bao buns to snack on between sips of the floral spirits.
Strategem Bendigo Winemakers Festival
Thanks to summer’s especially warm weather, harvest has come early this year for much of Victoria, particularly in the Central region. In anticipation of having all their grapes pressed, plunged, fermented and cellared, Bendigo’s winegrowers are gearing up to celebrate at the Strategem Bendigo Winemakers Festival in Rosalind Park on Saturday April 28 – and everyone’s invited.
There’ll be more than 70 red, white, rosé and sparkling wines produced by local winemakers available to taste, sip and take home. Meet each of the winemakers and chat about the latest vintage, and settle in with a glass of your favourite and a plate of local food to soak up the festival vibes and entertainment.
The Woodhouse Restaurant Restoked
The Woodhouse has gained quite a following since it started turning out smoky succulent meats in 2012. Recently renovated, owner and chef Paul Pitcher has brought the main kitchen out front and given the interior a polished refurb. The vintage-feel wooden bar is gone, as are the cow hides, now replaced with sleek black-and-white marble countertops and black-tile splash back.
The wood-fired pizza oven now takes a supporting role out back and Pitcher has invested in a few new cooking gadgets. Woodhouse now dry-ages its premium wagyu beef in-house, and sources apple wood from Harcourt and sustainable red gum as fuel for the charcoal smoker and grills. Locally sourced meats like McIvor pork, Sher wagyu, Flinders Island saltbush lamb, and Inglewood beef – which you can see being cooked in front of you on the wood-fired grill – continue to inform the meat-focused menu.
The Great Stupa
Illumin8: Festival of Light and Peace
A stupa is the most sacred building in Buddhism. Incredibly, Bendigo and surrounds are home to the largest stupa in the western world. The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is a recently built sacred Buddhist temple in Myers Flat, and on May 19–20 it will be coloured with an animated light show and fireworks in a celebration of peace and harmony.
At Illumin8, visitors can walk through Peace Park, interact with different light sculptures and installations, soak up multicultural performances and browse market stalls. There will be vegetarian and vegan food to devour, as well as kids activities.
A five-tonne Buddha, known as the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, will also be unveiled – it’s crafted from the world’s largest discovered piece of gem-quality jade and has been travelling the globe since 2009. This projection festival is the first of three that will light up Bendigo in 2018, with the Enlighten Projection Festival (August 29–31) and White Night (September 1) following Illumin8.
Bendigo Blues Tram
This initiative invites guests to hop on one of Bendigo’s historic trams and take a tour of the town’s grand heritage-listed streetscapes in the company of a quality musical guest. The two and a half hour ride takes in stops at the tram depot, Chinese temple and the local goldmine, accompanied by offerings of local beer, wine and soft drink available at the in-house bar. Upcoming guests include Emilee South with Jarrod Shaw, and Jo Jo Smith with Doc White.
The Good Loaf
Hot Cross Buns at The Good Loaf
This eye-catching sourdough bakery is set in a circular heritage-listed former Beaurepaires site. Perhaps more notable is it’s just been awarded the title of “Australia’s best hot cross buns” at the 2018 Victorian Baking Show, beating more than 90 other entries.
Volume, colour, fruit-to-dough ratio and moistness of fruit were all key deciding factors in the Baking Association of Australia’s awards process. Thanks to the endorsement, The Good Loaf’s vegan, semi-sourdough hot cross buns are proving even more popular this year than usual, so it will be churning out up to 20,000 of the fruit-filled pockets come Easter weekend.
Bendigo Craft Beer & Cider Festival
Microbrewers and cidermakers from across the country will gather in Central Victoria for the Bendigo Craft Beer & Cider Festival on Saturday March 24. Meet the brewsmiths themselves and taste beers and ciders from all states of Australia, with more than 100 offerings available on the day.
Local microbreweries True Brew and Brookes Bendigo will be joined by Kooinda from Heidelberg West, Grand Ridge from Mirboo North, Old Wives Ales and Exit Brewing from Melbourne, Shedshaker Brewing from Castlemaine and Bandicoot Brewing from Echuca, among other hops aficionados from around the country. Food trucks cooking up local produce, live music and festival games will round out the day’s offerings.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bendigo Tourism.