DESIGNER ROAD TRIP
48 Hours in Bendigo
If you’re seeking inspiration sometimes all you need to do is jump in the car, put some distance between you and all that is familiar and go on a road trip. Pack a picnic, go on your own or invite a few friends and explore new areas and discover new sites. It is incredible how a change of scenery can awaken new ideas and leave you feeling refreshed and revived.
We recently took a trip to Bendigo – a regional city in Victoria, Australia, about 150 kilometres north of Melbourne. Bendigo underwent quite the boom after gold was discovered in the soil in the 1850’s attracting migrants and turning this once small sheep station into a booming town. Thanks to this gold rush – this city, now boasting a population of 90,000 has some of the most extraordinary heritage listed architecture and is quite the oasis in country Victoria.
I witnessed an emerging creative undercurrent within the town and a community of local talent – as if Bendigo was a magnet to the emerging creative. A progressive influx of hipsters and cool kids brewing craft beer, mixing and mastering cocktails and bearded baristas serving some of the best coffee I’ve experienced on the east coast. There is a real sense of community in Bendigo, people make eye contact, love to take the time and have a chat, to tell their story and listen.
I’ve understandably been charmed by this town – here’s what we got up to during our 48 hours in Bendigo.
BENDIGO IS FOR GREEN THUMBS
Bendigo is an oasis of green with an array of beautiful gardens, deciduous trees and greenscapes. Right in the centre of town along Pall Mall is the Conservatory Gardens, designed by Samuel Gadd in 1886 – and believe it or not, built atop of an old rubbish dump. Central is a conservatory, in which you can wander through. The caretakers regularly change up the plants inside and on this occasion we were greeted by beautifully bright blooms and flowering plants.
The gardens are adjacent to the large and central picturesque Rosalind Park – it resembles snippets of New York’s Central Park, with its rows of trees, park benches and fountains.
The conservatory is well maintained and right in the centre of town. The gardeners had changed up the plants since I last visited and we enjoyed spending time within the big glass house – enjoying the tranquility! At night beware of the fruit bats who roost in the trees in Rosalind Park and at dusk they fly over making an incredible back drop (but dont look up…with your mouth open! Ha)
“I’ve understandably been charmed by this town – just 1 hour 45 mins from Melbourne”
BENDIGO IS FOR CUTE HOUSES + FIXER UPPERS
If Victorian, Edwardian and Californian Bungalow style houses get your heart racing like mine, then Bendigo is a dream boat for period homes and fixer-uppers. I was amazed at the all the cute streets within inner-Bendigo and the houses a-plenty screaming for a lick of paint and renovation. There are plenty of Air BnB’s, Bed and Breakfasts and charming neighborhoods we discovered whilst simply strolling on foot. We loved Baxter St + Hargreaves St near Percy and Percy’s cafe (best almond mocha in Bendigo) and the pockets up behind the amazing cathedral. I’m drawn to leafy streets, and older cottages.
BENDIGO IS FOR EXPLORING
I was struck by the emerging creative scene and the little laneways such as Chancery Lane and Bath Lane popping up for locals and visitors alike. Bendigo is built on a rich gold mining history so has extraordinary historical buildings – one being the Bendigo Visitor Centre in the original grand post office, opened in 1887 – classic Renaissance Revival architecture, this building is a show stopper showcasing the regions heritage.
There is helpful staff inside who can point you in the right direction of where to go and what to do, perhaps you would like to book a tour out to the goldfields. Inside, there are souvenirs and products and wares from local businesses showcasing the diverse creative talent.
48 HOURS IN BENDIGO
If you had 48 Hours in Bendigo like we did, I would recommend having breakfast at Percy and Percy – get in early on weekends as this place gets packed. Plentiful serves full of fresh produce – and in my opinion the best almond mocha’s in Bendigo! Super cute decor inside, with tables outside – as well as a dog-friendly courtyard dining spot. They also have great take away treats and desserts!
Next grab a take away coffee and go and check out the centre of town Pall Mall, the main street in Bendigo, this is where the last remaining trams frequent – there are plenty of shops, eateries and boutiques to check out. The centre arcade can be a little shady with a few bored teens and chain stores, so not worth a look, stick to the outer shops. Stumble across a hidden gem, Chancery Lane – it’s the Laneway adjoining Pall Mall and Hargreaves Streets. It’s full of quirky shops, eateries, bars… and even a barber and hairdresser if you need your locks trimmed!
Jump across the road and go check out the Conservatory and Rosalind Gardens. It’s such a beautiful oasis right in the heart of town. If you’re feeling energetic stroll up the big hill, to the look out tower.
Next, stroll down up the beautiful View Street which has the gallery, theatre and a plethora of gorgeous boutiques such as Gathered Bendigo, antique stores and cafes. Take a break and stop into View Bank (it was an old bank) and now converted wine bar and eatery. Try a local red or craft beer.
We had dinner at the little rustic Italian joint, Borchelli which was opposite the theatre and well worth dining in. It’s worth making a booking as it’s small, but we found a cosy spot outside and enjoyed a pasta and a vino! Bliss. Have a sneaky cocktail at the The Basement Bar – look for Jessica Rabbit and it’s at the base of View St, 17 Viewpoint Road. We stumbled across this place and loved talking to the new owner – this place is a little den, hole in the wall and has live music. Worth a cocktail or three!
Finish the trip confessing your sins and pay a respectful visit to the Sacred Heart Cathedral. This place honestly brought tears to my eyes. When we visited the organs were playing – it was eerily beautiful and certainly re-ignited my Catholic faith. The building itself is magnificent with marble and stained glass windows – sit in a pew for some quiet reflection, or catch a mass on Sunday. The cathedral has beautiful views atop the hill in Bendigo, take a stroll around the neighbourhood behind the cathedral – the houses – oh my!
Bendigo certainly grabbed my attention and is a place I’ll definitely be heading back to very soon. Do yourself a favour and take a trip to this magnificent old Gold rush town – it’s perfect if you love history, old buildings and character!
Creative Director, Eclectic Creative
Jess is a qualified Interior designer and currently resides in Melbourne Australia with her boyfriend and black rescue cat, Peggy. Texan born, Jess who grew up in South East Asia and has Italian, Irish and Danish heritage – she believes this culturally diverse upbringing has helped shaped her love for all things eclectic and formed her natural flair and talent for combining styles, colour and pattern. In her spare time, Jess loves gardening and travel, and basically anything to do with cats!
Connect with Jess Instagram: @jess_eclecticcreative
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