Bendigo … who knew?!

Having driven from Nhill to Bendigo, it really felt like we were far, far away from home now. It was the narrowing of the outback roads to one lane that got the “ You’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling happening, and I had a moment of feeling a little out of my depth, a little like I should have studied the map better. But then I came across a truck which pulled over for us, so Frankie could have the whole single road to himself, and I asked the driver about the way I was going. He was super helpful and explained the roads ahead to me and calm returned!  

Arriving in Bendigo we were all full of ooohhhs and ahhhss at the stunning buildings and gardens in the city centre and the massive Bendigo Bank (must research how Bendigo bank started … assuming once they found gold there!) 

First stop was the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on at the Bendigo Art Gallery, and then it was time to check in at the Park Lane Big 4 caravan park that we were all super excited about – mainly due to the indoor play centre and impressed we were!! Socks on, and off they went! The park is great, check it out if you fancy here:

The play centre and holiday program really were a highlight for us, along with the camp kitchen that looks out to the bouncy pillow (win win) and the super friendly staff. Must mention here we were so lucky with our site; on either side of where we parked Frankie, there were children of the same age as the girls, so instant friends were made, adding to the experience.  

So here are my top 3 things to do when visiting Bendigo: 

  1. The Discovery Science Centre
  2. Bendigo Art Gallery
  3. Deborah Central Mines

Science Centre:

We arrived at 10.10 am and didn’t leave ’til just after 3 pm! This says it all! It wasn’t the plan to stay the whole day but the girls were just so engaged with all the activities and little shows and talks that we just stayed and stayed! For me, the highlight was the planetarium; for Harper, the science show, which she watched twice and the vertical slide which she went down about 15 times. And Gem just loved the toddler area, with its pulley system designed like a mine where she spent ages playing with other kids who came and went. 

It was during our visit here, while I was going back to the robot room with Gem to experiment with programming the little beetle, that it occurred to me that vanlife is giving the girls and I a very big gift – time. It was so special to be able to stay at the centre all day; to go back to the activities that were favourites; to have time to see the girls master a new concept, a new skill; to watch a show twice and see the deep learning that occurred – to go deeper with learning and playing and not have to rush off to something else.

Bendigo Art Gallery

My love of Frida Kahlo took us here and although Gem wasn’t interested until she saw pictures of dogs, Harper and I got a lot out of it. Although the Frida exhibition isn’t there all the time, the gallery is impressive and has a variety of changing exhibitions. If you have a big love for Frida, go and check it out. I have always been drawn to Frida Kahlo from the moment I heard her story, which was right before moving to Mexico in my mid-20s, where I continued to learn about her life. Her life story is moving; she lived a short but passionate life (Harper was quite shocked after reading the timeline at the exhibition about how many affairs Frida and Diego had). And her expression through art is captivating. Last year, I went to a Frida Kahlo exhibition in Sydney which was amazing, so when I saw this was going to be on when we were in Bendigo, I knew I had to see it and I loved it. It’s photographs and organised into themes like Casa Azul, Politics, Family etc and added further to her story for me. 

Deborah gold mines was GOLD… literally. We took the tour underground and it was guided by a passionate and engaging woman who brought the history of the mine to life. We learnt about blasting, rock support (it has a better name but that has escaped me) tools and advances in mining. Aside from the tour there is lots to do on the ground level including panning for gold, which I discovered is quite addictive. Harper loved the tour … the whole experience of wearing the hard hat, the head torch and being the volunteer to operate the drill. Gem on the other hand was a little scared and insisted on being carried the whole time, hence the lack of photos and my back feeling like I had been shovelling rock for the length of the tour. So great learning about the past and so great finding a tiny (don’t sneeze) piece of gold.

When it was time to leave I found myself wishing we had another day or two … but as a wise woman once told me … always leave something you want to go back and do … and for me its Bendigo Pottery … that will have to wait ‘til next time!

Holiday activities at Parklane Big 4 Bendigo were a hit

Frida exhibition

Panning for gold (I found some)

Happy days and instant friends ❤️

2 Replies to “Bendigo … who knew?!”

  1. Sounds fabulous Hayley! I’ve never been to Bendigo but sounds like it should be on the to-do list. Love reading what you’re up to with the girls.

  2. Well I never thought I’d like bendigo when I lived down the road in Castlemaine, but it’s got a lot to offer and so much around it too that you get to see if you take the time! Like mount Alexander, and lots of old mine walks; awesome that you found so much on off Hayley xx

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