Bendigo Tramway's Amazing Heritage fleet
Our Rich Gold Rush Heritage
With Sandip Hor
Discovery of gold in 1851 in the rich and shallow alluvial fields around present day Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria, which became an independent colony around the same time, changed the history of Australia.
The gold rush fired the entire nation’s economy by bringing substantial wealth to its shores, stimulating secondary industries, driving population growth restructuring the manufacturing sector and significantly helped shaping shape its socio-political climate.
Soon, the region was filled with wealth seekers, only from other parts of Australia but from Europe, America and even China.
Less than 200km from Melbourne, the quarter became the home to more than 5000 mining companies, several mining stock exchanges and banks and a fine array of grand architecture, flanking spacious parks , gardens and tree-line avenues.
While mining stopped in Bendigo in 1954 despite claims of strong deposits still underground, digging still continues under Ballarat’s beautiful cityscape filled with imposing architecture and spacious parks and gardens lining broad avenues.
Visitors crowd these two Victorian cities to retrace the paths of the early pioneers and to immerse in some authentic experiences that reflect the glorious days of the past.
In Bendigo, the list includes riding on a vintage tram operating since 1890, exploring the old Central Deborah Gold Mine which stopped digging in 1954 now open to the public to showcase how a real mine looks like, visiting Bendigo Pottery – Australia’s oldest working pottery and sleep at the century-old Shamrock Hotel visited by Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1983 during their royal tour.
Not to be discounted is browsing through some of the key architectural landmarks from the past like the Alexandra Fountain, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Old Post Office, Art Gallery, Capital Theatre and the Town Hall.
Ballarat offers a similar line up of architectural marvels, its main thoroughfare Lydiard Street is recognised as one of Australia’s most intact Victoria streetscape, often used as a period setup for films and television.
In addition, this city which the state’s largest inland settlement offers Sovereign Hill which showcase how Ballarat lived during the early years of the gold rush.
Today both places are renowned for their fusion of classic with contemporary, strong art and cultural affinity and boutique food scene.
The Bendigo Art Gallery is well known for hosting major exhibitions, currently the retrospective exhibition on the iconic British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant is drawing huge nationwide attention. Bendigo is the exclusive Australian venue for this exhibition from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
In 2019, Bendigo was crowned with another accolade. Recognising the region's diverse food culture and community's commitment to local, sustainable, delicious and creative produce, it became Australia’s first UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. It wouldn’t take much time for visitors to appreciate the reasons behind granting this honour.
Getting There – While V/Line at www.vline.com.au offers train connections from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station to Ballarat and Bendigo, all the locations are easily reachable by road.
Stay – Both destinations are easy day trips from Melbourne, however good accommodation is available if an overnight stay is opted. For the best heritage exposure Shamrock Hotel (www.hotelshamrock.com.au) in Bendigo and Provincial Hotel (theprovincialballarat.com.au) in Ballarat recommended
Eating - Wine Bank on View (www.winebankonview.com) , Bendigo a top class wine bar and dining venue and restaurant at Provisional Hotel, Ballarat for European inspired meals
More Info – Check www.visitvictoria.com.au
ABOVE: Ballarat BELOW: Bendigo
Bendigo outdoor dining
ABOVE: Bendigo Talking Trams BELOW: Sovereign Hill & Ballarat