The Wunderlust Series: immerse yourself in the food and culture of Bendigo
An easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne brings you to one of the fastest growing cultural hubs in Victoria. Bendigo combines the tastefulness of Melbourne with the easy-going nature of small-town Australia. As part of our three-part wunderlust series on Bendigo (it wouldn’t all fit into one), part one uncovers the town’s dining and culture scene, perfectly timed with Bendigo hosting Australia’s only internationally renowned exhibition Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe . So take a few days off around a weekend this autumn and discover Victoria’s burgeoning food and cultural hotspot.
Best breakfasts in Bendigo
When you find yourself awake early and hungry during your stay in Bendigo, hit the streets and seek out the best breakfast in town. The Corner Store makes a mean eggs benedict, while Cafe Cortillé’s smoked salmon with green peas, avocado, goats cheese, sweet beetroot relish, asparagus, and poached eggs is a great day starter. Percy and Percy’s smashed avocado with goats cheese and poached eggs on cornbread is a must-try, The Boardwalk makes great smoothies if you are looking for something cool and Old Green Bean’s breakfast burrito is perfect for a long day of wandering.
Book in advance to experience Masons of Bendigo
Recently awarded a prestigious Chef’s Hat, Masons of Bendigo should be on the list of any foodie visitor. One of Bendigo’s preeminent food destinations, this chic eatery that has been setting the benchmark in local cuisine since 2012. Its husband and wife chef team, Nick and Sonia Anthony, work closely with local producers to execute its French, English and Asian food styles from paddock to plate. Try the Warialda Beef Carpaccio with black pepper, golden beets, smoled aioli, potato chips and fried onions or the McIvor Farm Berkshire pork fillet, belly & milk braised breaded shoulder with morcilla and crackly pinwheel – just a sample for the exquisite cuisine to choose from.
Get up close with Marilyn After Hours
If you haven’t already heard, Marilyn Monroe has come to town. In world-first exhibition exclusive to Bendigo, Bendigo Art Gallery is exhibiting the largest collection of outfits, belongings and memorabilia of the silver-screen starlet from March until July. Marilyn After Hours turns the Bendigo Art Gallery into a swinging hotspot with live music and pop-up bars. Saturday March 19 will feature 1950s and 1960s soul jazz by Geoffrey Williams, Slap Jack and the Magic 8 Balls will bring the rock ‘n’ roll on Saturdays April 23 and June 18, and the Erica Hawkey Trio will woo crowds with a mix of blues, soul and jazz on Saturday May 21.
Sample the finest Victorian wagyu at The Woodhouse
If your love for meat is a strong as it was for Marilyn, we’ve found you a piece of heaven The Woodhouse, Victoria’s only Redgum chargrill and dedicated steakhouse, to take in choice cuts from the special Marilyn Monroe-inspired menu, The Beef Affair or simply to sample the finest wagyu in town.
Indulge your sweet tooth
Already feeling full from what’s on offer? No stopping until you indulge your sweet tooth on the Progressively Delicious Dessert Tour, which takes in cocktails at Rocks on Rosalind, cheese local and wine at Wine Bank on View and sweets and craft beer at Mr Beebes Eating House & Bar.
Reserve your Friday night at Chancery Lane
Once known as Dispensary Lane, Chancery Lane boasts some gorgeous boutiques and amazing street art and food and drink havens, perfect for a Friday night in Bendigo. The Dispensary hosts Hot Fuzz Fridays with $4 – $10 bar plates such as crispy duck wings and pulled pork steamed buns, and a full stocked bar to match. Its neighbour El Gordo will fill your belly with tapas and live music. We hear the chicken and chorizo paella bomb are a must!
Board the Bendigo Blues Tram
The Bendigo Blues Tram is an exciting and unique way to experience the local sites – from the seat of one of the city’s historic trams. Enjoy a relaxed drink before departure at the Central Deborah Goldmine, before rolling through town to the sounds of the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival’s talented roster on March 26, May 14 and June 25.
Markets by day and night
Wander through the last Moonlight Market of the season on Saturday April 2 and pick up some artistic wares and local produce, or just kick back with some delicious food and enjoy the live music. If you’re wanting to sample the finest produce from across the region, you have to time your visit to make sure you can get to the Bendigo Community Farmers Market on the second Saturday of each month. Is fresh produce allowed on carry-on luggage as you won’t be able to resist taking everything home?
Join Marilyn and Ella on Tram 880
On most Friday and Saturday nights throughout the exhibition is Take a Sentimental Journey, a Marilyn Monroe meets Ella Fitzgerald evening on the famous Tram 880. Enjoy a cocktail or champagne on boarding and graze on the finest local cheese, antipasto and charcuterie while listening to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald as Tram 880 trundles through Bendigo from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. The perfect way to ease into the evening! Booking essential.
Find inner peace at The Great Stupa
If you need to find some inner peace on your long weekend away, be sure to visit the largest Buddhist monument in the western world – The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion – located just out of town. Explore it’s surrounding gardens before ascending the path that takes you clockwise around the Stupa that stands 50 metres wide and nearly 50 metres high. The views at the top across Whip Stick Forest and the plains beyond are amazing to behold. On the way home from the Stupa, stop by nearby Bendigo wineries of Balgownie Estate and Sandhurst Ridge Winery and meet the makers
Head to Bendigo Tourism to help plan and make the most of your extended long weekend with special accommodation packages and experiences available.