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Seven Bendigo Events Worthy of a Road Trip This Autumn

Get out of the big smoke to explore all this regional city has to offer — one glass of wine and cut of wagyu at a time.
By Concrete Playground
February 25, 2019

Seven Bendigo Events Worthy of a Road Trip This Autumn

Get out of the big smoke to explore all this regional city has to offer — one glass of wine and cut of wagyu at a time.
By Concrete Playground
February 25, 2019


in partnership with

Get out of the big smoke to explore all this regional city has to offer — one glass of wine and cut of wagyu at a time.

Bendigo? More like why haven't you Bendigone yet? We're sorry for the bad joke, but not sorry to point you in the direction of this not-so-little gem. Located 150 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, Bendigo has long been a destination for art, fashion and design (the huge Bendigo Art Gallery), pottery (the town is famous for its ceramics) and fine dining (including one with a chef hat).

But even if you don't like to see art, potter or eat (who are you kidding with that last one?), there is more to see than just all that. Bendigo is also ready to roll this autumn with a lineup of events that'll have you begging your friends to make the two-hour drive with you. We've partnered with Bendigo Tourism to bring you the best of 'em — get your calendar open in another tab and start planning.

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    Welcome to Our Kitchens

    Time is usually of the essence on an out-of-town trip, so you want to make sure you’re hitting the best spots, particularly when it comes to meal times. This autumn, Bendigo is running a roaming tour that does all the hard work for you, so you can spend less time researching and more time feasting. Welcome to Our Kitchens, taking place on Sunday, March 17, will feature five different kitchens, a whole heap of local produce and an insurmountably tasty time in general.

    The tour is led by local guides Food Fossickers, who are experts at where to find the foodie goods. Across a five-hour period, you’ll take a produce crawl to Masons of Bendigo, The Good Loaf Sourdough Bakery, Sangria Spanish Tapas Bar, Wholefoods Kitchen, Hoo-gah and Indulge Fine Belgian Chocolate. Along the way, you’ll get a savoury dish and a sweet treat at each venue, plus a limited-edition plate, handmade by Bendigo Pottery, to take home. For an extra fee, you can match a locally produced beverage to each dish — which is probably wise as walking and learning can be thirsty work.

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    Food, wine and art: they’re the perfect elements of a road trip through regional Victoria. And lucky for you, we’ve found a tour that ticks all the boxes — and has the added bonus of celebrating some pretty rad female producers, too. Leaving a Legacy is a luxury two-day tour around Bendigo. Designed by the owner of restaurant Masons of Bendigo, Sonia Anthony, this interactive experience will introduce you to the stories of women who’ve done a lot of good for the local community.

    You’ll start with lunch at Oak Forest in Harcourt prepared by Jane Grylls. Then, over the next few hours, you’ll take part in a workshop on indigenous plants run by elder Aunty Julie; sample bready treats by baker Jodie Pillinger; attend a wine tasting at Sutton Grange Winery with Melanie Chester; and finally, enjoy a Slovenian dinner prepared by Sonia herself. After spending the night in The Residence of MacKenzie Quarters, you’ll nab an exclusive tour of the Bendigo Art Gallery the next morning, hosted by curatorial manager Tansy Curtin. It’s a two-day affair with a good measure of girl power.

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    Bendigo Craft Beer and Cider Festival

    Not a sauv blanc fan? Think rosé is just alcoholic red cordial? That’s cool (though we’ll defend rosé ’til the death). Or perhaps you’re simply a lover of all boozy beverages. Whatever your stance, the Bendigo Craft Beer and Cider Festival may be right up your alley. This one-day event returns to Tom Flood Sports Centre on Saturday, March 23. Brewers from across Australia will be represented, with more than 100 different beers or ciders to take a punt on.

    The 2019 lineup boasts heavy representation of Victorian craft brewers including local Bendigo crew Brookes, plus Tooboorac Brewery, Cornella Real, Shedshaker Brewing and more. Meanwhile, The Side Project, Modus Operandi and Green Beacon Brewing Co will be making the trip from South Australia’s Limestone Coast, Sydney and Brisbane respectively. There’ll be live music, food trucks and festival games to keep the mood up for the day, too — think Giant Jenga and table tennis. Nabbing a VIP marquee for your crew is an option, but we think the real win would be just plonking yourself down on the nearest haystack and sipping your cold brews through the afternoon.

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    ‘Wine’ and ‘festival’: they’re two words that almost always lead to happy times for you and your gang. The Strategem Bendigo Winemakers Festival will return come Saturday, April 6, and with it comes a celebration of the region’s food and wine. Local winemakers will engulf the town centre — Rosalind Park to be precise — for five hours of alfresco fun. Over 60 different wines will be on show for you to sample, so grab a glass, have a chat to the winemakers and do a big collective ‘cheers’ to the end of the harvest. Remember to pace yourself (small sips, not big gulps) and that eating isn’t cheating — there’ll be plenty of food stalls to keep you plugging along wholesomely.

    There’ll also be live music from The Deans and The Funk Junkies and competitions running all day. You can BYO picnic rug or, if you’re feeling ritzy, nab a private VIP marquee for $750. It’ll get you and eleven mates entry to the festival (with a souvenir wine glass and complimentary wine tastings), access to the special private digs all day and a 30-minute private wine masterclass with a Bendigo region winemaker.

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    1000 Doors

    Let’s see what’s behind door number one. Or how about door number 1000? After blowing our minds in 2017 with the incredible House of Mirrors, Australian installation artists Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney unveiled their follow-up at Melbourne Festival with the fittingly named 1000 DoorsAnd in April, it’s popping up in Bendigo’s town centre, thanks to Bendigo Art Gallery.

    Visitors will choose their own adventure, cutting a path through an endless labyrinth of doors, screens, portals and gateways in Rosalind Park. No two people will experience the work in quite the same way once they step across the threshold.

    While there’s no word yet on what you’ll encounter on the way — hopefully no deathly four-guard, two-door riddle à la Labyrinth — the artists have hinted to ghosts, time-travelling and ‘inhabitants past’. We suggest you have your wits about you.

    Image: James Morgan

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    The Ultimate Wagyu Experience

    Carnivores, you might want to leave your vegetarian mates at home for this one. The Ultimate Wagyu Experience is a monthly dinner that’ll let you live out your sweetest, fattiest, beefiest dreams. Sit yourself down at Bendigo’s award-winning steakhouse The Woodhouse and prepare for a saliva-inducing showcase of the finest wagyu meat from around Australia. Four courses (steel yourself) should be just enough to explore the various cuts and ageing methods that are used on the meat.

    Run by chef Paul Pitcher, the experience starts with welcome drinks and canapés by an open fire. You will then move into a private dining area and be treated to some top-notch dishes, including dessert. Each plate will also be complemented with a glass of locally produced wine.

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    Bendigo Autumn Music — CANCELLED

    It’s just not true that only Melbourne city gets the good music acts — Bendigo has some crackers on the horizon, with a veritably enormous lineup planned for Bendigo Autumn Music festival. This inaugural event will run from Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28, so you can make a long weekend out of the ANZAC Day public holiday and get out of town. It’s a family-friendly festival, taking place across multiple venues in the township from pubs and cafes to community halls and the refurbished 1860s Sandhurst Gaol — now The Ulumbarra Theatre.

    Lineup-wise, it’s safe to say there’s an artist here for every type of music-lover — something that Red Square Music was careful to deliver. The festival has committed to the equal representation of artists (in gender and age) and local artists make up 30 percent of the program. Get behind it.

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    Looking to be a little more mindful this year? Perhaps a get a bit more spiritual? Make tracks to Bendigo’s impressive Buddhist structure, The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion (which also happens to the largest stupa in the southern hemisphere), in May. The annual appreciation for Buddha and his life, known as Illumin8, will take place across Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18.

    If Buddha is your jam and light installations and fireworks are your peanut butter, then roll on up. Illumin8 2019 will incorporate light sculptures in The Great Stupa’s Peace Park, roaming performances and vegetarian and vegan food and market stalls. Be sure to visit the giant Jade Buddha while you’re there, too (it’s his day after all). The centrepiece of the whole shebang is a light projection show each night telling the story of Buddha’s life, topped off by fireworks. Open your mind and let the light in (just don’t get too close to the fireworks).


Discover even more Bendigo events and start planning your trip here.


Words: Kat Hayes, Tom Clift and Melanie Colwell.

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