Let us take you back to 1851. Hitch your skirt, abandon your sheep, we’re heading down to the Bendigo Creek. That’s where besties Mrs Kennedy and Mrs Farrell, along with the odd shepherd, first laid eyes on gold.
Their finds were the first of nine billion dollars of gold found in Bendigo, making this place the seventh richest field in the world. As you can imagine, it caused quite a scene, AKA the gold rush. If you’re that way inclined, you can still go prospecting.
Pretty soon the world’s fortune seekers came to turn the place upside down. Literally. As the heady golden years went on, alluvial diggings gave way to underground mining, which organised the nationalities into classes of miners and mine owners. To their credit, many of the big wigs pumped plenty of cash back into the city. Exhibit A being Fortuna Villa.
German architects like Vahland, Getzschmann and Beebe wore down pencils designing historic buildings to rival Italian wedding cakes. If only Kevin McCloud was around back then! Many of these grand designs still grace Bendigo’s streets. You can visit them to see art and theatre, to shop, eat good food, drink good wine, experience heritage-themed attractions and generally have a lovely old time of it.
A highlight is the Ulumbarra Theatre, once the city’s 19th century prison, now named after the local Indigenous word for ‘gather together’. The Indigenous culture and stories run deep throughout Bendigo. The prison was built on the city’s highest point; once an important gathering site for our first people, the Dja Dja Wurrung.
Bendigo has always been a true multicultural city. Take, for example, our Chinese history, from the showy to the sombre. The Golden Dragon Museum tells many of the local stories. Other tales are well worth seeking for yourself; like the rare Chinese funerary burner at the historic White Hills Cemetery. If only it could talk.
While we’ve got you out of the CBD, set your GPS to any of the towns and suburbs within the region to find lots more ye olde treasures from way back when… like an historic town hall that’s now an art house cinema, an 1850s grocery store turned trendy provedore and mining relics galore in the box ironbark bush.