History & Culture
The land has been home to the Dja Dja Wurrung people for thousands of years – long before European settlers claimed it for farming – but it was the alluvial gold rush of the 1850s that transformed Bendigo into the multicultural melting pot it is today.
Take a self-guided walking tour of the town or join a heritage guided walking tour to explore Bendigo’s iconic historical sites. Begin the tour at the Visitor Centre, make your way to the Bendigo Town Hall, book ahead to enjoy high tea at Fortuna Villa, and marvel at the Sacred Heart Cathedral (the second tallest church in Australia).
Learn about Bendigo’s Chinese history and culture at the Bendigo Joss House Temple and the Golden Dragon Museum. Head underground to explore the shafts and tunnels of Central Deborah Gold Mine for a taste of what it was like in Bendigo in the 1850s during the gold rush times.
Jump on board Bendigo’s Vintage Talking Trams for an interactive history lesson. The hop-on, hop-off tour weaves its way through the city, stopping at Bendigo’s main attractions, eateries, art and shopping precincts.
The Ulumbarra Theatre (which means ‘gather together’ in the language of the Dja Dja Wurrung people), was once the historic Sandhurst Gaol but now holds both national and international performances. Join a guided tour, watch a show, and view the mural of Akira Kelly and the ancient three Dja Dja Wurrung Scarred Trees that have been installed in the theatre.
Begin at View Street arts precinct: the beating heart of Bendigo’s arts scene. The city’s artistic expression oozes out of laneways, studios and galleries. Absorb yourself in the Bendigo Art Gallery’s impressive permanent collection (featuring Bill Henson, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and more) and explore the travelling international exhibitions on display.
Meet the artisans, makers and designers along Bendigo’s artist walk as you peruse their studios and take in the street murals along your travels. Feeling inspired? Stop by Bendigo Pottery to create your own wares in Australia’s oldest running pottery house.
Catch a performance at The Capital, which was once the Sandhurst Masonic Hall (built in 1873) and is now home to Bendigo’s performing arts centre. Comedians, local theatre groups and The Russian National Ballet have all performed within its walls; affording you a wealth of entertainment options to choose between.
Time your visit to coincide with the annual White Night event in October to immerse yourself in Bendigo’s best performances, films, music, dance, art exhibitions and light installations.
Take your time wandering the 60 acres of tree-lined walkways, playgrounds, statues, the fernery and the historic conservatory in Rosalind Park. If you’re up for a physical challenge, walk or cycle part (or all) of The Goldfields Track, a 210-kilometre trail between Bendigo and Ballarat that weaves its way through central Victoria’s gold rush towns.
Take a day trip to the charming town of Heathcote, a 30-minute drive from Bendigo’s town centre, to partake in some of the state’s best Shiraz offering from the wine region’s cellar doors. Before you head back to Bendigo, wander down the main street to admire the heritage buildings, refuel at one of the quaint cafes or if you find yourself so inclined, spend the night and rise early to make the most of the walking trails and stunning Pink Cliffs found in the forest just beyond the town.
The famous Bendigo Easter Fair transforms Rosalind Park and the surrounding streets into a family-friendly festival of roving performers, markets, stage shows, live music, carnival rides and hands on activities.
For year round entertainment, kids can explore more than 100 exhibits at the Discovery Science & Technology Centre – don’t miss the outer space planetarium. A day out at Confectionery Capers will test kids’ lateral and creative thinking and indulge their tastebuds, or they can embrace their adventurous side at The Zone Fun Park with paintball, laser tag, skating, go karting, golf and slot car racing. Alternatively, challenge the family to a game of ten pin bowling at the Bendigo Bowling Centre.