Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Visiting Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Tourist brochures tell us that Bendigo and the nearby Heathcote Regions of Victoria are among the fastest growing areas in the state. The local population is around 100,000 which probably doesn't mean much to those of you in Mumbai or Mexico city, or perhaps in Indonesia.

Between 1850 and 1900 Bendigo mines produced more gold than any other place in the world, about nine billion dollars worth. But now the mining era has been and gone and all that are left are the stories of immigrants who became millionaires overnight and the remnants such as the poppet head in the photo at left.

I've visited Bendigo several times previously, the most recent perhaps 15 years ago and have always found it a pleasant, nice place to be, although prone to cold weather; I wouldn't want to live here.

Among the many things to do at Bendigo are:

1. do an underground mine tour of the Central Deborah Gold Mine which is situated within the city area (strange to see a poppet head sticking out from the suburban streets)
2. go for a trip on the Bendigo Tramways' "talking train"
3. visit the Bendigo Pottery and watch a wheel thrown pottery demonstration as an expert potter shows how easy it is to transform a lump of damp clay into a work of art
4. visit the Chinese Museum and cultural centre and associated gardens
5. follow a map to visit many of the very old buildings that date back to the early days of Bendigo's settlement

If none of these appeals to you, there are plenty of pubs, a nightclub, restaurants, shops and other things to do here.

There is an excellent tourist information centre here with dozens of brochures, maps and stuff to buy. Although we don't by any "tourist stuff" anymore, Christina and I found it nice walking through the beautiful parks and gardens and around the route covering the old buildings (even grey nomads need exercise). Many of the tree varieties here eg, Dutch elm and oak are not found in Central Australia, as are many of the flowers and shrubs, so it's uplifting to walk among them and admire their beauty, depth of foilage and the birdlife they attract.

We stopped at a business which is a coffee shop, restaurant and bar and had a cup of coffee and garlic bread with three accompanying dips. Fortunately, we only bought one to share as it was huge and one each would have been simply too much. We are finding more and more now that serving sizes have become inordinately large, so it's common for us to buy one meal and share it.

After all, every calorie counts!


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