Hotels in Bendigo, Australia
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Bendigo – the epicentre of Australia’s gold rush.
Experience the thrill, excitement and opulence of Australia’s nineteenth century gold rush in Bendigo, Victoria. Within two hours of Melbourne, the country’s fourth-largest inland city, boasting a strange and eclectic mix of Victorian grandeur and Chinese extravagance, makes for a sparkling hotel break. You can clamber along the tunnels of a real mine and pan for gold, admire elegant architecture, grand parks and antique shops or have a ride on the Bendigo’s glorious vintage ‘talking’ trams. Whatever takes your fancy, you’ll be sure to return home with a stash of golden memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
The discovery of gold in the Bendigo Creek in the 1850s transformed the fortunes of a sleepy nineteenth century sheep station overnight. Migrants, dreaming of riches, flocked here from throughout the world and Bendigo became one of Australia’s biggest boomtowns. Rapid growth continued as the railway reached the settlement in 1862 and Bendigo was declared a city in 1871.
As the surface gold disappeared, mining companies were founded to extract the vast underground riches of quartz reef gold. Bendigo was then producing more gold than any other mine in Australia. It is still the 7th biggest in the world today with 780,000 kilograms of gold having been excavated.
If you stay in one of Bendigo’s many hotels or motels, you can easily get a taste of the city’s lavish past. You’ll find a treasure trove of monuments, grand Victorian structures and beautiful traditional trams and real mines to explore. The most popular attraction in Bendigo is The Central Deborah Gold Mine. Here, you can embark on underground tours 60 metres beneath the surface or try your hand out at gold panning.
The extent of Bendigo’s rich heritage is clear to see just by wandering around the centre. Grand Victorian architecture dominates, especially along the elegant main street, Pall Mall. At the end of the street, the Alexandra Fountain, built out of solid granite, pays testimony to the city’s abundance. Even the Old Post Office, dating back to 1883, now housing the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre, oozes lavishness and old-world charm.
Although there are wide range of hotels in Bendigo to choose from, one stands out head and shoulders above the others for its swanky splendour. The Shamrock Hotel on Pall Mall, dating back to 1854, was completely rebuilt in 1897 in an extravagant ‘Boom’ style and is now a classified building. You’ll also find many curious antique shops in this part of town, as well as charming eateries and laid-back restaurants in and around Bull Street.
A further notable structure not to be missed is the majestic Sacred Heart Cathedral – the largest Gothic cathedral in the southern hemisphere, dating back to 1896.
Another quirky side to Bendigo’s eccentric personality is its huge Chinese influence. The gold-rush attracted migrants from around the world – none more so than the Chinese, whose impact on the culture is clear to see today.
You can have an insight into where initial Chinese migrants worshipped at The Joss House Temple, which dates back to 1870. More modern tributes include The Golden Dragon Museum, Yi Yuan Gardens and Kuan Yin Temple, by the central Rosalind Park. The serene gardens include traditional Chinese architecture and colourful murals around a lotus pond. The impressive temple, dedicated to the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, also hosts many vibrant murals. The museum contains a collection of processional regalia and the world’s longest and oldest imperial dragons including the famous hundred-metre-long Sun Loon.
Sun Loong gets an airing each year in Bendigo’s famous Easter Fair Procession, the oldest continuous festival in Victoria – dating back to 1871. The dragon, requiring 50 people to carry it, is the centrepiece of this colourful annual festival, where live music, shows and performances take over the city streets.
There’s no better way of getting around Bendigo than by hopping on its immaculately restored vintage trams – called Talking Trams, as they give visitors a running commentary of the history of the city. With hand-crafted seats and stained-glass features, they are a pleasurable way of exploring Bendigo. You can get on and off as you like at the main attractions such as Deborah Gold Mines, Rosalind Park/Pall Mall, Lake Weeroona Park and the Joss House Temple.
Rosalind Park, in the heart of the city, just off Pall Mall, is a splendid area to relax in, full of historical trees, buildings and monuments, such as the Cascades water feature dating back to 1880. For a breath-taking view of the city, you can climb up the ancient Lookout Tower. Used in the gold rush, this authentic tower was moved to the park in 1831 and has become an icon of Bendigo.
For a moment of tranquillity, you can wander around the 18 hectares of Lake Weeroona Park or take a boat out on its large ornamental lake.
Just to the south of the city, you can also visit the natural splendour of the Bendigo Regional Park and Greater Bendigo National Park, which house numerous relics of the region’s gold-mining heritage.
So, if you are staying in or around Melbourne, make sure that you rush up the Calder Freeway or take the train to Bendigo and unearth the many treasures this glittering city still has to offer.
Price rangefrom NZ$52to NZ$396
- Hotel Quality Inn Colonialfrom NZ$154
- Hotel Bendigo Bush Cabinsfrom NZ$103
- Hotel Quest Bendigo Centralfrom NZ$174
- Hotel All Seasons Bendigofrom NZ$137
- Hotel Quest Bendigofrom NZ$141
- Hotel Quest Schaller from NZ$126
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