After finishing the Great Ocean Road and a couple of nights in Warrnambool we headed north to spend a couple of days in Bendigo. Could easily spend a week here (in drier and warmer weather). Bendigo is a big city. It was established following the Victorian Gold Rush days in the 1850’s. It was surprisingly named after an English boxer William Abednego Thompson (11 October 1811 – 23 August 1880), also known as Bendigo Thompson, who was an English bare-knuckle boxer who won the heavyweight championship of England from James Burke on 12 February 1839.
Bendigo is full of some very old buildings and it is a delight just to walk around the streets and admire the architecture. Being a city it has a good local bus service so we jumped on a random bus that took us up to One Tree Hill and then another back into the CBD. Local buses are a great way to get a feel for the place and get some bearings. We then caught the Bendigo Tourist Tram. It runs several times a day from the Chinese Joss House to the Old Deborah Mine, about 6 stops in all. For $10 per person you have unlimited rides on a hop on hop off basis for the day. They have a running commentary on board pointing out all the sights along the route.
We also visited the Chinese Dragon Museum. Such a colourful display of Dragons, one of which is over 125 years old. It’s head alone weighs 30kg and takes several men to operate it as due to the weight it can only be carried by each person for about 20 paces. The Australian Goldfields attracted the Chinese people, firstly as gold prospectors, when some found they could make a good living by support occupations such as Market Gardeners, Laundry operators or as shopkeepers. The government of the day made it hard for the Chinese by imposing additional taxes on them and many walked from Adelaide and Robe in South Australia rather than paying the taxes applied at the Port of Melbourne.
Outside of the Museum are beautiful gardens and a Temple. The lady who was our guide was of Chinese descent and passionate about her culture. She had some fascinating stories of her grandfather who was a local shopkeeper who came to Bendigo after the Goldrush days. Well worth spending a couple of hours here.
Bendigo is also famous for its Bendigo Pottery and we couldn’t not visit the old factory. The attached museum is worth a tour. It is a self guided tour through the old kilns with plenty of history to read up on. Of course there is plenty of Pottery available for sale. On a given day you are also able to try your hand at some pottery.
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