A weekend road trip guide to Bendigo and the Goldfields

in partnership with

Bendigo was once the richest city in the world, but you don’t need huge chunks of gold seeping from the ground to justify your visit. The Goldfields region is home to an impressive collection of cultural destinations, dining establishments and limitless natural landscapes, meaning you will undoubtedly return from this historic region with more than a few nuggets to share with your friends.

Whether you’re venturing deep underground or spending an afternoon in a sprawling vineyard, you’ll be spoiled for choice to load up a weekend here with great activities. With the help of our Victorian road trip partner RACV, we’ve selected some of the must-sees to ensure you experience a countryside cruise like no other.

And don’t forget – if you’re planning on having a drink, make sure there’s a designated driver to keep you safe on the go.

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Streetscape of Maldon, Victoria

David Mitchener, Visit Victoria

BACK TO THE GOLD RUSH ERA

Like many large communities in central Victoria, Bendigo was founded as a boom town of the gold rush in the 1850s after the discovery of gold. You can immerse yourself in this fascinating history by traveling to the Central Deborah Gold Mine, a fascinating underground mine that sees brave souls dive 200 feet (61 meters) below the surface.

The charming town of Maldon (pictured above) has even more of this wonderful history. Located 40 kilometers southwest of Bendigo, this community serves as a portal to the Gold Rush era, with beautifully preserved period homes and storefronts lining the streets. But with plenty of foodie experiences hosted in and around this centuries-old streetscape – like monthly Farmers’ Markets showcasing local growers and producers – Maldon offers so much more than nostalgia.

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Metcalfe Cascades - river cascading over rock with blue sky

RELAX IN A ROCK POOL

Whether you’ve been digging through the area’s underground mines or spending the day completing a section of the epic Goldfields Track, ending the day at The Cascades will leave you feeling positively rejuvenated. Located in Metcalfe – a small town 50 kilometers from Bendigo – this series of rock pools and swimming holes adjacent to the Coliban River is a great outdoor escape.

With hiking trails and picnic tables lining this serene spot, this pocket of countryside is best enjoyed with a freshly packed lunch. If you’re looking for another scenic swimming destination, Turpins Falls is just a 15 minute drive away in Langley and has a spectacular natural pool where the Campaspe River crashes over a 20 meter high cliff.

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Dining at Mason's of Bendigo

Visit Victoria

DISCOVER THE BENDIGO CULINARY PLAYGROUND

Bendigo is not only history and nature, it is now one of the best restaurants in Victoria. If you’re willing to work up a sweat, Masons of Bendigo’s use of local produce on a small scale is delicious. Housed inside a former glass factory, the restaurant’s stark decor is an elegant contrast to the kitchen’s artful dishes.

A short walk away, The Dispensary is the place to sample modern Australian cuisine and has an outstanding beer, wine and cocktail list perfect for pairings. For smoked meat lovers, The Woodhouse, which claims to be Bendigo’s only dedicated steakhouse, partners with the area’s top producers to serve up sumptuous cuts prepared on a red gum grill.

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Balgownie Estate, Bendigo

Visit Victoria

EXPLORE GOLDFIELDS WINE COUNTRY

It is not just for gold that the soil in this part of Victoria is good. With the region’s soil renowned for its volcanic basalt and sandy gravel, central Victoria has produced some of the best bottles of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in the country, with the first vines planted here in 1856.

The Goldfields is home to over 60 cellar doors but, for arguably the most luxurious experience in the area, head to Balgownie Estate (pictured above). This sprawling estate includes a 33-hectare vineyard as well as modern accommodations, exceptional restaurants and a day spa. Also in these hills is the Sandhurst Ridge Winery, a long-standing winery whose heritage dates back to the sunny valleys of northern Italy.

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Viennese Cafe in Castlemaine

Michelle Jarni – Visit Victoria

VISIT A VIENNA CAFÉ

The clue is in the name of Das Kaffeehaus, a Viennese-style cafe that showcases hearty Central European flavors right on the streets of Castlemaine. Run by Edmund Schaerf and Elna Schaerf-Trauner, who carry on a decades-old family history of coffee roasting and blending, Das Kaffeehaus is where you can find Teutonic temptations like schnitzel, goulash and wurst served up with fresh sauerkraut and pickles.

Naturally, the coffee here can’t be beat, too, with the small-batch roasting on-site providing a satisfying blend. With marble countertops, Thonet chairs and dark wood accents decorating this captivating space, Vienna’s culinary customs are alive and well on the streets of Castlemaine.

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IMMERSE INTO BENDIGO’S MULTICULTURAL HISTORY

You cannot appreciate Bendigo’s long history without understanding the influence of Chinese migrants. With miners and merchants coming from all corners of the globe throughout the 19th century to enrich themselves on the goldfields, the large Chinese community played a crucial role in forming the city’s foundations that remain so treasured. today.

The Golden Dragon Museum captures this proud chapter in the region’s multicultural history through a collection of 30,000 artifacts, textiles, photographs and more. The site is also home to a charming teahouse, souvenir shop and Yi Yuan Gardens, a peaceful oasis based on Beijing’s Imperial Palace.

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Bendigo Tramway

Rob Blackburn – Visit Victoria

TAKE THE BLUES TRAM

Bendigo’s music scene is vibrant, thanks to its wealth of local talent as well as the popular Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival, which was launched in 2011. Road trippers who like to sing along can experience the best of the area . talent in an entirely new setting, with a ride through the city on the historic Blues Tram.

Departing from Central Deborah Goldmine, your trip on this old-fashioned trolley lasts 2.5 hours, with cold beers and delicious snacks served while local artists play up a storm. With stops at historic destinations like Joss House, this unique experience is a great way to experience the cultural side of Bendigo.

The next sessions won’t take place until November, but before then there are a number of other tours you can take along Bendigo’s historic tram lines.

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RELAX IN STYLE AT RACV GOLDFIELDS RESORT

Bendigo and the wider Goldfields area is packed with activity, so you’re bound to feel tired once you reach the end of the day. RACV Goldfields Resort ensures you have the perfect place to rest your head, with this countryside retreat placing you right in the heart of nature’s beauty.

Thanks to its prime location, you are easily close to major destinations in the area, with Ballarat, Castlemaine, Daylesford and many more just a short drive away. As well as fine accommodation and excellent cuisine, you will also find first class amenities ranging from a golf course and mountain bike trails to a wonderfully relaxing heated outdoor swimming pool.

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Planning a road trip? Get RACV emergency roadside assistance before you go.

Top Images: Visit Victoria

Posted on March 21, 2022 by

Hudson Brown


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