More gold was found in Bendigo than anywhere else in Victoria. In fact, by the 1880s, the Bendigo goldfields were the richest in the world. A colossal 22 million ounces of gold has been found since 1851, worth around $9 billion by today's standards.
Today, Bendigo, two hours' drive from Melbourne, is a charming and elegant regional city that displays its heritage in its impressive 19th century 'boom-town' architecture.
In the centre of town, historic sandstone buildings nestle among century-old gardens and established trees. There are sidewalk cafes, art galleries and antique stores to enjoy and explore.
A quiet stroll in the gardens adjacent to the dining and arts precinct offers the opportunity to ponder the wealth behind much of the city's architecture. A climb to the top of the Poppet Head in Rosalind Park rewards with a spectacular view of the city. On the way down, be sure to look at the mosaics.
For a hands-on experience, the Central Deborah Gold Mine shouldn't be missed. You'll descend 61 metres to get a taste of deep-reef mining. Hard hats and battery-run miner's lamps are provided and experienced guides reveal old mining secrets, including the best place to hide stolen nuggets of gold!
Another fascinating insight into Bendigo's past is the Golden Dragon Museum. Located in Bridge St, the museum houses one of Australia's most significant collections of Chinese artefacts, including Loong and Sun Loong, respectively the world's oldest and longest imperial dragons.
Around Bendigo are wineries producing top-quality wines and you can taste and buy at cellar doors.