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All tourism tracks, and plenty of roads, lead to Bendigo

Bendigo's historic tram is a popular attraction that rattles past many of the city's highlights.

Bendigo's historic tram is a popular attraction that rattles past many of the city's highlights.

Australia’s regional towns are holding their own when it comes to travel destinations. With enticing line-ups of everything from food festivals to beckoning beaches, our country hubs are pulling out all the stops to attract tourists.

Holiday hotspots have been awarded by the state and national tourism bodies with one Victorian town taking out two impressive gongs.

Bendigo, a regional Victorian town, was awarded Top Tourism Town by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council in 2022. It went on to win the silver award for Top Tourism Town in the 2022 Australian Top Tourism Town Awards.

The awards are based on user reviews, suggested itineraries and public voting.

Bendigo

There’s a wide range of accomodation on offer in Bendigo. Photo: Supplied

Judges praised all the regional winners for becoming must-see destinations. VTIC chief executive Felicia Mariani said Bendigo was sure to cement its popularity when the 2026 Commonwealth Games came to Victoria.

“Regional Victoria will shine on the global stage during the 2026 Victoria Commonwealth Games, and in particular, silver-winner Bendigo will have a starring role as one of the four hubs hosting events,” she said.

Bendigo has something for everyone – a thriving food and wine offerings, vibrant arts and culture scene, a rich history, a packed events calendar, and a welcoming community.

The town was inducted as  Australia’s first UNESCO Creative City and Region of Gastronomy in 2019 thanks to more than 100 producers and 60-plus cellar doors and breweries in the region.

Bendigo

Four restaurants in the Bendigo region have recently been awarded chef hats. Photo: Supplied

Bendigo’s gold rush heritage means it has many historic buildings, parklands and quaint bluestone cobbled laneways. These spaces have been reinvented to become contemporary restaurants, cafes and bars.

Adding to its foodie cred is the fact that four regional restaurants have recently been awarded chef hats. Among them is the new Chauncy in nearby Heathcote, which was awarded two hats.

Bendigo is also home to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, the biggest Buddhist temple in the western world, as well as the Golden Dragon Museum, where the longest and oldest imperial Chinese dragons are kept.

Getting around town is easy with the Bendigo Tramways, which hark all the way back to June 1890. There’s also the Central Deborah Gold Mine, where visitors can explore the hidden underground tunnels that produced 929 kilograms of gold during the boom era of the 1900s.

Creative types can check out Bendigo Pottery, where handcrafted pottery dates back to 1858, or see a live performance at Ulumbarra Theatre, a 1000-seat theatre redeveloped from the town’s old gaol.

Bendigo

Bendigo was awarded Top Tourism Town by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council.

Before European settlement, this region was known as Jaara Jaara Country by its traditional landowners, the Dja Dja Wurrung and Taugurung.

These days, you can learn stories and artists work from First National People through experiences such as Dja Dja Wurrung Tram, the recently opened Djaa Djuwima gallery and the Djaara Lights night-time activation.

The Bendigo Art Gallery is renowned for its international exhibitions, which most recently included the Elvis: Direct From Graceland Exhibition, which attracted 220,000 people.

The gallery is hosting two exhibitions– Treasures of Dai Gum San, showcasing art from the late Qing dynasty and In our Time, four decades of art from China and beyond.

Find out more at bendigotourism.com and or follow @explorebendigo on Facebook and Instagram.

Topics: Bendigo
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