It is the morning of Good Friday, the first day of 4 days of a long, long weekend in Melbourne.
Alex and I are Departing Melbourne, and heading north-north-west to the country town of Bendigo for the Bendigo Easter Festival. Alex has booked us into the Fountain View Suites.
Once Alex booked the accommodation I jumped online and discovered a Blues Tram as part of the festivities going on in Bendigo.
We are booked on the tram for tomorrow night.
We leave behind us a rainy Melbourne morning and Meow Meow the cat. Ahead of us is a 3 hour drive to Bendigo from our home (obviously).
To get to Bendigo we make our way north on the Tullamarine Freeway, bear left onto the Calder Freeway and continue on the “Calder” for the next 130km direct to Bendigo.
We locate our accommodation which is on View Street and couldn’t be more centrally located. Alex has booked us a room at the Fountain View Suites. The Fountain View Suites is boutique accommodation housed within a magnificent example of Victorian architecture (1863).
The room is gorgeous and so spacious.
We have two nights here with our room costing $190 per night. This is actually super value for what is a large (clean) room with balcony and corner spa bathroom.
The building also backs onto the beautiful Rosiland Park with the balcony off our room overlooking the park (and the car park).
Yes Alex…the room is gorgeous Alex… thank you (again) Alex.
So… with no time to waste we head downstairs to begin our exploration of Bendigo.
Bendigo according to Wikitravel:
Bendigo is a large regional city in Victoria, Australia, population 100,000 (making it the 3rd largest settlement in the state). Bendigo is located some 140 km (105 miles, 1.5 hrs drive) north-north-west of Melbourne.
It is a beautiful city with grand Victorian architecture, more opulent than that generally seen in country Australia. This is as a result of the Gold Rush.
Bendigo grew to a bustling town during the Gold Rush Era of the 1850s. The wealth created during this period resulted many fine Victorian era buildings in the down town and surrounding areas. This type of architecture is not common to most country towns in Australia.
An influx of people from the city has brought the population of Bendigo to just over 100,000. Even so it still retains a friendly country atmosphere.
The town has more sunny days per year than Queensland. Being north of the Great Dividing Range, it has also far less rain than Melbourne. Summers are hot and dry, up to 40 degrees Celsius or more on some days. Winters tend to be mild; with lowest temperatures around -5 degrees Celsius overnight and around 15 during the day.
Sheep, cattle, fruit, wine and cereal crops are the most common products of the area. Gold is being discovered again in large quantities at deeper levels in the old mines with new technology.
We firstly make our way next door to the entrance of Rosalind Park. The park is a hive of activity given that today is Good Friday, the Bendigo Easter Festival is on and it is a national public holiday.
Bendigo has really pulled out all the stops. Spread throughout the park is a range of activities including a Historic Vehicle Display, showbag stands, Vision Australia Easter Egg Hunt, Ashley’s Kids Rides and Farmer Daryl’s Mobile Animal Farm (it’s a petting zoo Alex, no…not that kind of petting).
We finish our visit to Rosalind Park at the conservatory.
With Rosalind Park circumnavigatedWe cross over Pall Mall and make our way along the market stalls which line Bull Street which is today closed to all except foot traffic.
With the market covered we stop for coffee back along Pall Mall and watch the Bendigo Talking Tram pass by.
The bell tolls on the post office to mark 3:45pm…odd but…whatever… perhaps it’s a country thing?
With the sun starting to diminish we retreat to our accommodation to enjoy a movie in the luxury of our boutique accommodation. Our afternoon movie is the old black and white version of Sabrina which of course stars the beautiful Audrey Hepburn.
Wake up Alex… we have a dinner reservation at Rocks on Rosalind. While there are loads of eating options all within a short walk, Rocks on Rosalind is conveniently located on the ground floor of our beautiful building.
Alex orders a very tasty Seafood Thai Curry while my meal of 300g rump is accompanied by super crispy twice-cooked potatoes and sauteed spinach. Both meals plus two glasses of Shiraz cost $107 which is a bit of a splurge for us.
We were trying to catch the 8:00pm fireworks display but there are too many damn trees in this (Rosalind) park that we can’t catch anything other than the odd glimpse which is completely useless.
Oh well… umm… how about a drink at the famous Shamrock ?
The Hotel Shamrock according to Wikipedia:
The Shamrock began life in 1854, as a small hotel known as The Exchange Hotel, servicing miners during the Victorian gold rush including a Cobb and Co office and a concert hall known as the Theatre Royal.
The hotel’s patronage had grown quickly with the booming goldfields and it was renamed the Shamrock in 1855. The same year the Theatre Royal hosted to Lola Montez, performing for the diggers who threw gold nuggets at her feet, many of which the Shamrock staff took as tips while cleaning. The Bendigo Shakespeare and Literary Society also performed at the theatre from 1861.
Completely rebuilt in 1864, the Shamrock became a large hotel with two triple storey palazzo in the Victorian Regency architecture style. By this time the Shamrock had become main hotel in central Sandhurst (as Bendigo was then known) and was the accommodation of choice of visiting dignitaries to the valley’s goldfields district including governor Charles Henry Darling.
A large double storey verandah was added in the 1870s.
Dame Nellie Melba was one of the notable guests of the hotel during the Edwardian era, she stayed in the third floor corner suite opposite the Bendigo Post Office clock tower and demanded its hourly chime be turned off.
After our drink we spend some time exploring the Shamrock Hotel’s interior and walk the same hallways where Dame Nellie Melba and Princess Diana once walked.
And so endeth our first day in Bendigo. Tomorrow is a new day and we will spend some time exploring Bendigo on foot before we get to sit down and enjoy some blues on the Blues Tram.
For the next Bendigo, Victoria post stay tuned…