Bendigo is a former Gold Rush town in Central Victoria and one of our regular regional destinations with the kids. It’s just a 90 minute drive from Melbourne and offers grand Victorian buildings, lovely streetscapes and a slower pace of life, while still boasting interesting cultural and culinary attractions.
Here are my tips on where to stay, visit, play and eat in Bendigo with kids.
- Hustler’s Reef, 15 Barkly St, Bendigo
Hustler’s Reef is an entire home that accommodates up to four people in two bedrooms. It’s a cute renovated miners cottage and only a short walk to Rosalind Park and town. The quiet house is equipped with a kitchenette, air conditioning/central heating, free street parking, free wifi and the most luxurious bathroom! From $161.50 per night including continental breakfast starter park on first night.
- Jubilee Villa 170 McCrae St, Bendigo +61 3 5442 2920
A charming Victorian block that’s been restored to provide B&B accommodation in restored servant’s quarters or a studio apartment /loft.
We rented a 2 bedroom self-contained unit ie the servant’s quarters. While the building had one side facing the main highway we did not find it noisy through the night, with only the occasional truck rumble penetrating through the thick brick walls.
The accommodation was really charming. The main bedroom had split system heating with a firm double bed (plus electric blankets) and a bathroom with two person spa. From the bedroom you entered a dining room with a bar fridge, microwave, tea/coffee, toaster which used to be old medical consulting rooms and there’s a cabinet full of antique medical jars and instruments. The second bedroom has twin single beds and a second TV.
Jubilee Villa is a 5 minute stroll to Bendigo CBD and across the road from the Chinese Golden Dragon Museum and a stop of the Bendigo Talking Tram.
From $165 a night including continental breakfast.
3. Bendigo Easter Festival
The Bendigo Easter Festival is an annual event that offers lots of free/low-cost entertainment for families, when the weather is generally mild. The whole city comes alive with parades and festivities!
4. Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St, Bendigo 03 5434 6088
Bendigo Art Gallery is Australia’s largest regional gallery and in the past few years it has hosted some world-class exhibitions. This winter they’re presenting a comprehensive exhibitions about Marilyn Monroe’s life (Sat 5 Mar – Sun 10 Jul).
It’s an exhibition that’s probably worth visiting alone, but if you do go with kids (under 5s are free) you can bribe them with a treat from the kid-friendly Gallery Cafe.
5. Golden Dragon Museum 1-11 Bridge St, Bendigo +61 3 5441 5044
The Golden Dragon Museum bills itself as the ‘Chinese Cultural Centre of Australia’ and your $11 entry (Children (5-14 $6) includes entry into the museum displays, the Chinese gardens and the Kuan Yin Temple.
As a first-generation Chinese immigrant I found it fascinating to learn about the historical significance of Chinese people in Australia. It charts the origins of the majority of the Chinese miners who came for the gold rush in the 1850s with artefacts, furniture and everyday goods and follows their assimilation into Anglo Australian society and their contributions to the communities of Bendigo and Victoria.
On a balcony surrounding the circular central gallery is a collection of the Chinese Dragons and their associated regalia used in the Bendigo’s annual Easter procession.
Reader recommendation: Central Deborah Gold Mine – explore the hidden underground tunnels of a real gold mine that operated during the gold rush boom of the 1900s. We’ve never been as the kids are freaked out by dark enclosed spaces!
6. Book Now 1 Farmers Lane, Bendigo 03 5443 8587
Book Now holds the mystique of old dusty tomes waiting to be discovered with the grandeur of a two-levelled Bodleian-esque library. Books are sorted by category (with seating in nooks and crannies between shelves) with highlights including the non-fiction literature and antiquarian collections. It’s got a small collection of children’s books in the back corner but predominantly it’s a shop better for adult readers.
7. The Epicurean 79 Mitchell St. Bendigo 03 5443 2699
The Epicurean is an Italian gourmet deli and providore which has a substantial range of take-home meals along with bread, smallgoods, cheeses and cakes and sweets (you can also dine in). You can fill a large tub for $15.50 and a small tub for $9 and given a large tub easily feeds two to three people it’s a complete bargain.
8. Bendigo Farmers Market Williamson St, Bendigo
Every second Saturday of the month Bendigo holds a Farmers Market from 9-1pm at the Rosalind Park end of Williamson St. The market sells fresh, regional and seasonal produce.
10. Camp Hill playground, Rosalind Park
Nice fenced playground set in Bendigo’s huge central park with lots of ramps and walkways, slides, climbing sculptures and rocks and mounds for more climbing.
11. Lake Weeroma Adventure Playground, Napier St, Bendigo
Large fully fenced playground located beside Lake Weeroona. There main structure features lots of ramps, tunnels, slides and bridges. Standing apart from the main area are four swings. The ground is all soft fall and on the perimeter are roadways and roadsigns for scooters and bikes.
The playground has some natural shade and there are shaded and unshaded seats within the fenced area. Outside the fence are shelters with tables and toilets.
12. Fun Loong playground, Hargreaves St Mall, Bendigo
The playground at Hargreaves Street mall takes its name from Sun Loong, the world’s largest imperial dragon housed in the Golden Dragon Museum and Bendigo’s pride. It’s a really colourful, well-designed and semi-shaded space in pedestrian mall and a handy stop if you are in the centre of town or doing some shopping.
13. Cooinda Park playground, Cnr Norma Street and McKenzie Street West, Golden Square
This suburban playground used to have a bank of awesome rainbow wave slides until an arson attack in January 2016. Now, it’s still fun but not really worth a special trip unless you’re in the area.
14. Mr Beebe’s Eating House, 17 View Point, Bendigo 03 5441 5557
Stylish all day dining 7 days a week in a heritage building designed by architect Mr Beebe. The menu is designed to share with small and large plates (no specific kids menu). We shared the lamb meatballs, fat chips, wagyu burger and smoked duck salad, the latter of which was only $15 on the ‘fast eating’ menu.
15. The Woodhouse 101 Williamson Street 03 5443 8671
Authentic steakhouse and pizzeria where everything is cooked, roasted, baked or grilled with sustainable redgum wood from Barmah. It’s homely, rustic fare done with panache and no gas! We tried their wood-fired pizzas with a crispy, slightly bready, base, and I highly recommend the stuffed poussin with roasted veg. The dessert platter is also a feast to behold and is really suitable for three to four people, not just two!
16. Percy and Percy Cnr Hargreaves & Baxter Sts. 03 5442 2997
A former grocer turned delightful neighbourhood cafe. The café is spacious, with a main dining room, a secluded private room and outdoor courtyard. The menu is comfort food done with an imaginative twist and there’s a small children’s menu.
17. Boris Murgers 47-49 View Street 5441 2918
Bendigo’s best burgers and crunchy triple-cooked chips are served 7 days a week at Boris Murgers. There are fourteen different “murgers” to choose from and highly recommend their milkshakes made with 200ml of ice cream.
18. Cortille Café, 322 Lyttleton Terrace 03 5444 3082
19. Brewhouse 402 Hargreaves St, Bendigo (03) 5442 8224
This specialist coffee roastery and cafe has a fit out lifted right out of the laneways of Melbourne and is a buzzing place on weekends with families and hipsters alike. For families there’s plenty of pram space, a stack of high chairs, a kids menu and even an old-fashioned school desk hiding colouring books and pencils!
20. The Good Loaf 404 Hargreaves St Bendigo 03 5444 2171
Bendigo’s first and only sourdough bakery is housed in an old service station. It is a small space (they can provide a high chair) and as you can imagine the menu is very bread heavy. Highly recommend their polenta bread.
21. Chancery Lane off Pall Mall is Bendigo’s laneway of food and art in the CBD, with the bustling wine bar The Dispensary and the Spanish-inspired El Gordo cafe. Being small, narrow restaurants they are not particularly child/pram friendly in terms of facilities but kids are welcome.
22. Reader recommendations:
- Rocks on Rosalind 12 View St. 03 5441 2222 – a grown-up restaurant that serves food all day so you can still visit for an early dinner (lunch 12-3pm, dinner 6-9pm, bar food in between). Menu is seasonal and uses locally sourced produce.
- Bendigo Corner Store Café 305 View Street 03 5442 2008 – organic coffee and free range produce with a backyard for the children to play in. The store portion of the café sells milk, bread and newspapers plus other convenience items.
- Bendigo Wholefoods – 314 Lyttleton Terrace (03) 5443 9492- Community food store with locally grown and made products and adjoining cafe.
- Edwards Providore 150 Condon Street Kennington 03 5444 2244 – slightly out of town is this produce store and café. Everything on the menu in the café is made from the fresh foods that they sell.
- Old Green Bean 179 Lyttleton Tce, Bendigo 5444 3173 – vintage store, coffee roastery and cafe.
- Bendigo is 90 minutes drive from Melbourne or 90-120 minutes via V/Line from Southern Cross Station.
- Book accommodation via Bendigo Tourism, Airbnb and Stayz. Often the same properties turn up on each site with different prices, so you can price check!
- Many cafes/restaurants don’t open Sunday or Monday, so check before you plan to head somewhere.
- Take your Museum Victoria membership card to get free entry into Discovery Science Centre.