The royals are coming to Bendigo. The Queen will be there, as will Meghan Markle and … Henry VIII.
You won’t see the English monarchy in the flesh at Bendigo Art Gallery’s crackerjack exhibition, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, but you will see an impressive collection of works and artefacts from London’s National Portrait Gallery.
The exhibition includes 200 portraits from five royal dynasties. It’s only the second time the National Portrait Gallery has lent out the collection (the other time was to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). The artworks span centuries of the monarchy, from King Henry VIII all the way to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The portraits also document the styles and social sensibilities that changed with each period, captured by renowned artists such as the 17th-century Flemish baroque painter Anthony van Dyck, pop artist Andy Warhol and photographer Annie Leibovitz.
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The exhibition also includes rare and wonderful artefacts from Bath’s Fashion Museum, the Royal Armouries and other collections. So before you see Bendigo Art Gallery’s forthcoming mid-century Balenciaga exhibition (starting August 17), wind back the fashion clock with a look at 12-year-old Edward VI’s armour, George IV’s royal christening gown and Queen Victoria’s tiny silk dress (she stood just 150 centimetres tall). The exhibition also includes an outfit worn by Princess Diana during her 1983 visit to Australia.
It isn’t hard to live like a royal in Bendigo. To celebrate Tudors to Windsors, we’ve planned a weekend itinerary that will make you feel like a monarch.
Where to take tea
Bendigo has a plethora of cafes. Get Naked Espresso Bar serves a good selection of house-blend coffees and has locations all across town. It’s also running a special pop-up in the centre of Bendigo (opposite Alexandra Fountain) to celebrate the Tudors to Windsors exhibition. You can’t miss it: it’s a tram decorated with the red, white and blue stripes of the union jack.
For sweet offerings, head to all-day food and wine spot Harvest for house-made croissants and decadent chia pudding with raw cacao and banana.
A princely tour around town
Travel like a true monarch on Cobb & Co’s royal horse-drawn carriage tour, trotting past important historical Royal visit landmarks such Bendigo Town Hall and the stately Hotel Shamrock.
But if mechanical transport is more your speed, take a tour on one of Bendigo’s refurbished historic trams, that have been themed from previous Royal Visits to Bendigo . Tours include stops at popular attractions such as Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Soldiers Memorial Museum and, of course, Bendigo Tramways Depot & Workshop, the oldest operating tram depot in Australia.
A royal feast
Paying tribute to Bendigo’s gold rush history, the casual fine diner Rocks on Rosalind is housed inside an elegant heritage building that was once a smelter point and gold bank. Lunch and dinner options include beef tartare with prawn mayo and mustard leaf; Cone Bay barramundi with white bean ragout; and lamb rump with parsnip puree, grilled radicchio and honey vinegar. There’s even a Taste of the Tudors five course degustation menu inspired by royal feasts.
For statelier fare, though, head to the sleek and innovative Masons of Bendigo for lunch or dinner. Their colourful dishes would impress history’s most decadent monarchs, with mains such as dry-aged duck breast with confit duck leg salad, mandarin, glazed witlof, burnt onion and quince, and desserts such as ruby chocolate with croquant mille-feuille, salted-coconut ice-cream and persimmon. You can also partake in a Royal Roaming lunch which includes seven savoury bites and a sweet Queen Pudding to finish, made with Central Victorian produce.
The finest libations in the land
Start your evening with one of Vault Eatery’s Royal Cocktails. They include the English Garden (with gin, elderflower and cucumber), The Macdonald Windsor (with Bombay sapphire gin and cranberry juice) and classic Pimm’s Cups.
Then move on to the more refined Dispensary, an artisan cocktail bar mixing up Brandy Crustas (with sazerac, cognac, orange curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura), a range of Negronis (including one with locally made Maidenii dry vermouth) and much more.
A sleep fit for a royal
The impressive Hotel Shamrock is about as regal as it comes in Bendigo. The historic hotel has been visited by numerous royals over the years, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Rooms are elegant and stays come with the option of a full English breakfast.
If you’re more about Balmoral than Buckingham, though, book into MacKenzie Quarters, which is housed in a 140-year-old red-brick gothic building that was originally a deanery. It’s perfect for group getaways, and can accommodate up to 12 people in its five rooms.
Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits will be at Bendigo Art Gallery until July 14. More details here.*
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bendigo Art Gallery.