For days I was searching for a soulful weekend around Melbourne where I could just go back in time and relax at my own pace. Far from the hustle bustle of the metro cities yet over-active in its own measure I found the town of Bendigo for my much awaited short trip. The moment I touched the peripherals of the city my eyes lit up with ebullience to explore it right away. Bendigo is a vivacious contemporary city yet historical in its own view, swashing lovely streets emerging from gold rush.
First thing First – When in a new place; go to the information center. And so did I. Coming out from there I headed to lake Weeroona. Man-made yet so serene and calm covered in sunlight. The evening looked even more beautiful as if witnessing the midnight sun. Turning back, I found a local eatery which served piping hot pizzas and desserts much to my delight. The town is surrounded with eating joints and there is plenty to explore for food lovers. Jojoes is worth visiting if you are looking for friendly service along with good food.
Since it was already evening I checked into a hotel to soak in the warm gushing waters of the indoor pool and enjoy the night with some local wine. With an anticipation of starting early next morning with fresh view and energy to explore the untold stories of this mystical town, I called it a night after couple of drinks.
Fresh Morning – Straight after breakfast, my next stop was to dig some gold. Yes, you read it right, I headed to the Deborah Gold Mine to get the first-hand mining experience. it was this place where there was more gold found than anywhere else in the world.
I popped on a hat with a light and went down to the second level for about 70 feet below where the temperature reduced to around 4 degrees and I could see water dripping through the walls of the mine.
The initial gold rush started with two ladies who found gold near the Bendigo Creek while going through their daily chores. Since they couldn’t keep it to themselves, gold diggers from around the world flocked to Bendigo to make a living.
Though the mine is now closed and no longer active, yet the thrill gets you going in case you get lucky. The two-hour guided tour left me with enough imagination about the miners and their life under. Interestingly, the rooms once used by miners to rest and have lunch can now be used to host parties. If you are staying nearby, I suggest you host your Halloween party here next time to get a ghostly experience down under. Thrilling, isn’t it?
Back to Light – After sprouting back to surface I rushed to take my seat in the talking tram that was waiting to leave for a tour around the town stopping at remarkable spots. Each stop had its own history and live commentary went on as we passed by. From Cathedrals to sprawling gardens, from water-parks to mines, from hills to water streams; the town has so much to offer. The mid stop gave me fifteen minutes of break to explore the Tram Museum and one of the tram could beat any color chart on earth with its decorative cushions and wall hangings. Life couldn’t get more colorful than that; was my first response on seeing the tram.
Back into the tram I got down near the Golden Dragon Museum on my way back. The original 1860’s Chinese Joss House and the Museum display the Chinese heritage of the area and house the world’s oldest Imperial Dragon – Loong. It was good to explore the Chinese artifacts and see their life and culture captured in idols and especially if you still believe in once upon a time stories. I haven’t been to China but my guess is that these things are still there in China. Children will surely enjoy the gallery. Along with the museum lies a long stretch of garden in Chinese style. I went for a stroll through the garden for relaxation with sun smiling on me warmly.
Artistic Twist – For those who love art and culture, there are ample opportunities around the town for them to soak in through the day. From art galleries ornamented by world renowned painters to small shops showcasing new emerging talents. For the love of pottery, you can join the ceramic workshop to try a hand at the wheel (Bendigo Pottery) which is one of the oldest in Australia.
Adrenaline Rush – Adventurers need not be disappointed because if you are one of those who seek an adrenaline rush in every trip, then slide through the vertical slide with a speed of 30-40 km per hour. Or climb to the tower to look down the city for an aerial view.
Back to the Nest – Now that the sun was coming down, I decided to step into Yarn Bird for some delicious Chicken Wings. Don’t order if you dislike a bit of mess while eating as the wings are immersed deep in the sauce and you have to dig in to get the meat. But the effort is worth the taste it offers. Interestingly the chain is American in the all Victorian era town and this makes Bendigo diverse in its culture and people.
Now was the time to head back home to start a new week of work tomorrow. But while going back the town kept calling me back and I would return to explore it more deeply as a local than a tourist next time.
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