Bendigo is a city that loves its craft. You can see that in its busy pottery centre or its tram completely covered in yarn. But most of all, you can see it in the profusion of craft breweries here, collectively making some of the best cold ones in the country.
To celebrate this thriving indie beer scene, Bendigo on the Hop returns to the city on Saturday, August 25. The annual winter festival transforms Bendigo's historic town centre into the site of one epic craft beer crawl. The event organisers, local non-profit Bendigo Beer, describe it as a "festival for beer drinkers with an open mind".
It works like this: you buy your ticket and select your starting venue. This is where you pick up your tasting tokens and souvenir glass on the day. After that, it's a choose-your-own-adventure as you make your way to whichever pub, bar, beer garden or pop-up kiosk calls you most.
This year's event has grown from last year, now featuring 44 beers from 22 truly independent breweries across 10 venues — including sophisticated restaurant Rocks on Rosalind, leafy Handle Bar and heritage boozer The Rifle Brigade Hotel.
Turn over your tasting tokens as you go, and be adventurous — that tzatziki beer might turn out to be your tastebuds' true love.
Trains travel every hour from Melbourne to Bendigo, making this an easy day trip. If you've got the time to spare, though, take the opportunity to stay the night, enjoy a lazy Sunday and spend some time at Bendigo's four breweries.
To plan your time in Bendigo and the surrounding countryside, visit the Wander Victoria website.