One of the richest towns in the world during the second half of the 19th century, Bendigo retains it’s gold rush era architecture and Chinese history. Only a couple of hours from Melbourne, it’s a great place to spend a day exploring.
Starting with the huge Sacred Heart Cathedral, the third largest cathedral in Australia, only beaten in scale but those in Sydney and Melbourne, cities with more than 45 times the population of Bendigo.
It’s scale compared to the rest of the town can be best seen from the top of the Poppet Head lookout tower in Rosalind Park, a former gold mine shaft, literally in the centre of the town.
There are plenty of gold rush era memories in White Hills Cemetery, along with wild kangaroos jumping through.
The gold rush initially attracted many Chinese, but the increasingly harsh laws introduced to keep Australia white resulted in only a couple of thousand remaining. Their heritage is well represented in the excellent (if poorly lit) Golden Dragon Museum, home amazingly to the oldest and longest dragons in the world, along with an impressive jade carriage.
Across from the museum are the rather lovely Yi Yuan Classical Chinese Gardens, small but atmospheric.
Slightly further out of town (at the end of tram line) is the fascinating Bendigo Joss House, the last remaining of six, in which gifts can be offered to the gods, including apparently Coca-Cola!
Close by are the refreshing Bendigo Botanic Gardens.
Back in town there were plenty of beautiful heritage buildings and gardens.