Eight Unexpected Places to Stay Around the Bendigo Region's Best Cultural Experiences
Fill your weekend away with all the exciting sights — from galleries and goldfields to glamping tents to sleep in.
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You might picture gold when the prospect of exploring the Bendigo region comes up, but you'll quickly discover that the city and its surrounding townships are full of contemporary cultural landmarks and unique places to visit. Whether you plan on taking a stroll along the Bendigo Artists Walk or want to pay a visit to the Buda Historic Home and Garden, you'll be happy to know that a host of incredible stays are waiting for you to rest your weary head at the end of the day.
From the cutest country cottages to converted halls and glamping homesteads, we've teamed up with Bendigo Regional Tourism to bring you a list of the most distinctive places to stay and use as a launchpad to explore the best cultural hotspots of Bendigo, Castlemaine and beyond.
VISIT BENDIGO ART GALLERY AND STAY IN A 140-YEAR-OLD BENDIGO ICON
Since undergoing a stellar facelift in 2014, the Bendigo Art Gallery has emerged as one of Australia's top regional art institutions. Having hosted some world-class contemporary art exhibitions throughout its esteemed history, the gallery's modern design draws in visitors from across Australia. In recent months, they've been coming in droves to gaze upon the showcase of influential fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. After the exhibition closes on November 10, the gallery will welcome works from Gunditjmara/Yorta Yorta artist Joshua Muir — What's on your mind? will run from November 31–March 1, 2020.
You can't stay much closer to the Bendigo Gallery than The Residence at Mackenzie Quarters. Mackenzie Quarters was built in 1877 as the deanery for the neighbouring school hall and was referred to as 'The Master's Residence'. It's located in the heart of the arts precinct, and cuts a striking figure, right across the road from the gallery. The residence has been lovingly restored to offer guests modern conveniences across five bedrooms, two bathrooms and multiple entertaining spaces. Come February 2020, there'll also be a sophisticated wine bar in the premise's basement.
EXPLORE THE GREAT STUPA AND FINISH THE DAY WITH WINE STRAIGHT FROM THE VINEYARD
An absolute must-visit when in the region is the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, an enormous Buddhist pagoda. Symbolising the path to enlightenment and providing a calm place to meditate, this (almost) 50-metre tall structure is the largest example of a stupa in the Western world.
To continue the calming vibes, head to Sandhurst Ridge Vineyard for a relaxing bed and breakfast experience amid the greenery, or treat yourself to a luxurious stay at Balgownie Estate Winery Retreat. Choose from a self-contained cottage with views of Sandhurst's tranquil pond, vineyard and bushland, or one of 15 glamping tents dotted across the Balgownie Estate grounds. There's even a personal outdoor soaker tub on the deck of the safari-style tents on offer.
WANDER AROUND CASTLEMAINE ART MUSEUM AND SPEND THE NIGHT IN THE OLD SCOUT HALL
Founded in 1913, the Castlemaine Art Museum is one of regional Victoria's most striking cultural landmarks. The museum boasts a delightful art deco design with purpose-built galleries showing everything from historical artefacts to contemporary art, including the 2019 Experimental Print Prize exhibition, which opens December 7 and runs until May 2020.
The leafy township of Castlemaine is located within the heart of the Victorian goldfields. It's little wonder this area is a hub for creative types — it's surrounded by quaint little towns and stunning bushland waiting to be explored for inspiration. Earn your explorers badge with a stay in nearby Harcourt at the old Scout Hall, which is complete with a stage for forcing your friends and family to watch you perform. The luxury self-contained apartment retains plenty of its original charm — including soaring ceilings, exposed arch beams and shiny wood floorboards — but has been upgraded so you get all the modern things you need like a nice kitchen and wifi.
CHECK OUT THE BUDA HISTORIC HOME AND SLEEP IN A LUXURY BELL TENT
Once the legendary property of prominent Hungarian silversmith Ernest Leviny, today the Buda Historic Home and Garden provides a fully intact glimpse into the past with furniture, artwork and personal belongings remaining much the same as the home's heyday back in the 19th century. A visit to the property is a day well spent, with three acres of heritage garden to explore as well as a gift shop and plant nursery so you can take home a piece of the history.
Continue the garden vibes of your getaway at the nearby Big 4 Holiday Park. Stay with us — this isn't your typical caravan park. Set on the edge of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, you can get yourself a luxury bell tent complete with a queen-size bed and exceptionally comfortable linen. You'll be glamping in style on a timber deck, perfect for kicking back with a bottle of vino, looking out to the greenery.
SPEND THE NIGHT IN A COTTAGE SURROUNDED BY GREENERY AND STOP BY CASCADE ART
Set inside a former Gothic Revival church, Cascade Art is a stunning regional cultural landmark that any big city would be grateful to have. Led by long-term Maldon residents Kareen Anchen and Jeff Gardner, the place is more than just an art gallery — it also hosts regular creative launches, artist talks, workshops and pop-up events. It also supports emerging printmakers from across the region.
Just across town, you'll find a cute Victorian cottage that's perfect for a weekend getaway. The stylish Fairbank House has plenty of entertaining spaces and lovely country garden vibes but is also conveniently located to explore the rest of Maldon, a picturesque town that has maintained much of its 19th-century architecture in tribute to rich gold rush-era history.
EXPLORE THE CENTRAL GOLDFIELDS FROM HISTORICAL TALBOT
Presenting artwork inspired by the wonders of the Central Goldfields, Maryborough's Central Goldfields Art Gallery offers visitors a frequently changing lineup of exhibitions that draw from its vast permanent collection and a range of local creative talent. Home to works by seminal Australian artists such as Dean Bowen, Arthur Boyd and Ray Crooke, the space has everything from landscapes to textile art on display. While in the area, you can also visit Possum Gully Fine Arts Gallery. This bush gallery exhibits a unique collection of works from established Australian artists, covering disciplines including printmaking, painting, drawing, art glass and ceramics.
If it's local history and creativity that interests you, the neighbouring town of Talbot is the perfect spot to make your home for the weekend. We found a particularly Pretty Cottage, which was built way back in the 1880s. The fully restored home and its quaint country garden will be all yours during your stay.
STEP INTO HISTORY AT WEDDERBURN'S COACH HOUSE GALLERY THEN ESCAPE TO A FARM
For a brief moment in the 1850s, Wedderburn had a significant role in the Victorian gold rush. It only lasted a few years, but the tight-knit community continues to present travellers with a glimpse into the past. The Coach House Gallery and Museum is where to head to see the best work from local artists, while there's also a replica general store that harks back to a time more than a hundred years ago.
If you're after a real getaway from city life, there's a 22-acre property on the Loddon River ready to act as your home away from home after a day of exploring Wedderburn and surrounds. Learmonths Place is a fully renovated family farmhouse, where you can breathe fresh country air and enjoy taking in the river views and starry nights.
ANTIQUE SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP AND THEN RELAX IN NATURE
If you're a lover of knick-knacks and collectables, you may have already known that Inglewood is a must-visit when it comes to searching for antique goods. Wander down Brooke Street and you'll soon discover everything from art, books and French furniture being sold in stores such as Fusspots at Inglewood, Sharps Bazaar and Inglewood Emporium.
After all that shopping, you'll need somewhere to rest and rejuvenate, so why not escape to Rostrata Country House. Just a short drive from Inglewood through Tarnagulla (the town of churches), the farm stay lets you enjoy the quiet country life for as long as you like. The fully contained home has space for six, plenty of seating in the gardens, and bikes you can use to explore.
To start planning your trip to Bendigo and to discover more cultural happenings in the region (and beyond), head to the Bendigo Regional Tourism website.
Top image: Rostrata Country House.
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