A Weekend Getaway Guide to Bendigo
Bendigo is one of the fabulous getaway options for Melbournians. Once a gold rush city there's another "gold rush" of sorts going on now with the city attracting the discering with its food and culture attractions. We had such an amazing weekend here that we just wanted to share it.
The Schaller Studio
Places to stay? Look no further than The Schaller Studio, perched on a hill with fabulous views of historic Bendigo. This is one of the excellent Art Series Hotels which means it's modern, great rooms and has the x factor with it's artwork and amenities. We enjoyed lunch at The Pantry cafe at The Schaller Studio then were given a bottle of decent Pinot Noir, which we consumed on the balcony of the room (note the stunning view). (Part of a package).
The Schaller Studio is part of the Art Series Group of hotels and every piece of art is an original from talented artist Mark Schaller. You feel inspired walking around the hotel admiring the art and modern creative vibe. Staff were super friendly and passionate about what they do. they even booked us dinner in town and gave us great travel suggestions.
Many artists go to the dark side in their artistic expression but not so Mark Schaller - we love the splashes of colour and vibrancy!
Bendigo Art Gallery
While in Bendigo check out the exhibitions at Bendigo Art Gallery. This is a world class exhibition gallery and the exhibitions are top notch. We were there for the Toni Mateveski exhibition (now finished) and it was worth a trip from Melbourne in itself. The Toni Maticevski Dark Wonderland exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery was a must see. Surely one of the hottest fashion designers in the country this was an extensive, fascinating and inspiring collection. Sone of the gowns and dresses are jaw dropping and the use of multi media first class. We spent a couple of hours there; initially expecting maybe a couple of rooms of dresses but it's much more than that.
Where to go for breakfast? As a Melbournian I'm used to eating in top cafes and somewhat of a cafe snob to be honest. Cortille was right on the money as a cafe with a great vibe (both the caravan and the outdoor tables), excellent service and of course superb coffee ans brunch dishes.
What a great start to the day! Fresh ingredients, seasonal and on point! Baked Eggs, spicy cannelloni beans, dukkah nut crumble & Meredith goats feta with toasted pumpkin bread with chorizo (of course).
Smoked Salmon, Green Pea with avocado, asparagus, beetroot relish, poached egg & dukkha.
Masons of Bendigo
Here was a great surprise! We'd heard great reports about Masons of Bendigo so we managed to book a table (not always easy as its super popular) and imbibe this hatted restaurant. And well it deserves a hat! The dishes are a perfect mix of comfort food and impressive technique by skilfull chefs. Nick and Sonia Anthony take a bow for their exciting innovative and rewarding Modern Australian food (with several influences). Kangaroo carpaccio was a clever dish and spoke of the flair displayed with Australian native ingredients. Which always excites us! Check out the fine presentation!
Masons of Bendigo struck a chord. We settled on the Roaming Menu to experience the heart and soul of the restaurant.
Asian influences are apparent and they use local produce in their dishes. McIvor Farm Berkshire Pork Belly Skewers were a pleasure, with roasted shrimp, pineapple and cashew salad.
Playfulness! Many would know the controversy surrounding who invented the chiko roll. Masons of Bendigo has weighed in for the Bendigo case with a playful dish that celebrates the Chiko Roll. Of course their version is way less fatty and more healthy than the original. I'm not sure that this is a permanent menu item but it is an example of the creativity and humour evident as Masons of Bendigo.
Chicken and giner dumplings with pickled kohlrabi, fried wonton and laksa broth was another ode to Asia and delicious.
A triumph is the lamb done 3 ways!
Dessert was a showstopper with Creme brûlée, Holy Goat & lychee panacotta, chocolate delice, macaron, strawberry 'eskimo pie', lemon cheesecake with sweet dukkah, chocolate pot with coffee soil, Favourite Flavours ice cream & Persian fairy floss.
For foodies this is a must visit in Bendigo.
Another icon, Beechworth Bakery has opened up several outlets away from Becchworth. For those who love a good bakery, this is a must visit.
OK so you need to experience their pies, but the Ned Kelly Pie is a claim to fame! Reckon Ned Kelly would have tucked away a few of these. The menu has an extraordinary amount of options (bakers must be busy) with a huge selection of pies, foccacias, wraps, sandwiches and quiches. Not to mention an amazing range of cakes, slices and treats. And an all day breakfast menu. Check it out.
Love your wholefoods? Then visit the amazing Bendigo Wholefoods in town; grocer, organics, global foods, health and wellbeing and nursery. The key is that they support the regions growers and producers - a fine advertisement for culinary Bendigo and surrounds. Not sure I've ever seen a wholefoods place like this (I can think of an amazing place in Willunga South Australia but this is next level).
Bendigo reflects the grandeur of gold rush days and it's parks are seriously attractive. Check out the tulips!
We spotted this artist painting up a storm...
Lake Weeroona is a place where half of Bendigo seems to do jogging of laps... So picturesque!
Golden Dragon Museum
Another must visit is the Golden Dragon Museum. For us there's some family history in Bendigo with my great great great (or whatever) having been the Bishop of Bendigo (who built Langley Hall). This museum has an incredible display of history and celebration of Chinese culture and contribution.
Wide streets and pavements, period architecture and stunning gardens; Bendigo is extraordinary!
Love the fountain!
Langley Hall is another fabulous place to stay in Bendigo for old world charm...
Wineries - Heathcote
After leaving Bendigo we wandered back to Melbourne via Heathcote. You can do the whole winery crawl or even spend some time in the main street with several wine/winery attractions.
Cambrian rock soil!
We picked up some great wine bargains too; love it when a cellar door gives back to the people who visit!
Lunch at Heathcote Estate was stunning with this regional platter; the platter of platters!
Disclaimer: We were guests of Schaller Studio for a package that included the Toni Mateveski exhibition. Everything else we paid for ourselves. Our conclusion: Victoria has so many gems and a weekend in Bendigo is a superb option.