One of my favorite cities in all of Australia has to be the central Victorian city of Bendigo. The unusual name for this city of 105,000 people comes from the name of a famous Irish boxer. However, it was not boxing that would make this city famous, but gold and lots of it. Gold was first found in Bendigo in the 1850’s by miners panning the creek running through the area. Prospectors soon flooded the area and set up tents around the creek to pan for gold. Before long buildings and then an entire town was built to support the gold rush. Eventually the surface gold ran out and actual mines were dug which garnered more riches from what had become known as the Victorian Gold Fields.
The wealth from these mines is what built the Victorian capitol city of Melbourne into the great city that it is today. Additionally much of the wealth from the gold rush period can still be seen in Bendigo today as well. Bendigo is absolutely filled with some amazing architecture that was built during this period with most of the buildings clustered along the main street area running through downtown.
The most striking building would be the old Post Office:
From most areas in Bendigo the Post Office’s clock tower can easily be seen and is quite a sight. The old Post Office is now used as a visitor center and a city museum. The visitor center is quite good and the people working there are very helpful. I highly recommend a visit there along with dropping in and checking out the museum to learn more about the city’s long and important history to Australia.
Sitting adjacent to the old Post Office you can see in the background, is the Soldier Memorial:
Just about every Australian town, big and small has some kind of war memorial and Bendigo is no different. It is always amazing to see how many names from the various towns in Australia have died overseas fighting for the country and Bendigo has given plenty of those names.
Just across the street from the Soldier Memorial you can see from left to right, the original Bendigo Bank and the Beehive building which originally housed gold buyers, a stock exchange, and merchants:
Today both buildings are used for stores and restaurants. Just down the road from the Post Office you can find the old Bendigo Mechanics Institute:
The institute also served as the city’s public library. The building today is no longer a library but still an institute, but one now called the Bendigo Regional Institute of Technology.
The most famous hotel architecture in town is without a doubt the Shamrock Hotel:
The Shamrock was at one time the most elegant hotel in all of Australia. The hotel had its own in-house orchestra and theatre that was a must visit locale for all the famous European celebrities of the gold rush period. The Shamrock today is owned by the Comfort Inn hotel chain and is a nice place to drink some coffee and have a bite to eat while sitting on the deck with a sweeping view of downtown.
That sweeping view includes Charing Cross section of town that served as the city’s main commercial district:
Sprinkled throughout downtown are also a variety of pubs and hotels that are well over a hundred years old:
The town is absolutely filled with historical architecture everywhere you go, but this just serves as a taste of the many fabulous buildings you can see.