Bendigo is the fourth largest city in Victoria (ranked after Melbourne, Geelong, and Ballarat). It is well-known for its glorious gold mining history, impressive Victorian architecture, and strong Chinese heritage.
Walking around Bendigo city, you will find many grand Victorian-era buildings and statues, all built from the wealth of Bendigo’s gold rush. There are also many stunning Chinese temples and gardens around Bendigo, which are the legacy of those Chinese miners during the gold rush era.
There is a lot to see in Bendigo, but you can certainly visit Bendigo’s major attractions on a day trip. To help plan your trip, I have put together this 1-day itinerary for visiting Bendigo, based on my recent visit.
Information on how to get to Bendigo & where to stay in Bendigo is also provided for your convenience. Hope you can find this article useful.
One-Day Itinerary in Bendigo
Bendigo Vintage Talking Tram
Bendigo’s Vintage Talking Tram is among the most iconic attractions in Bendigo. It is also the best and most scenic way to learn the culture and history of Bendigo.
Sitting in a restored tram from the early 1900s, you will be passing by a plethora of historic buildings along High Street and Pall Mall, glancing over the beautiful Lake Weeroona, and stopping by the peaceful Joss House Temple.
The Vintage Talking Tram is operated between Central Deborah Gold Mine and Bendigo Joss House Temple. It also stops at Charing Cross, Lake Weeroona, and Tysons Reef. The ride takes about 20-25 minutes one-way & passengers can get on and off the tram at any stop.
A ticket to the Vintage Talking Tram is AUD 10 per adult (July 2022). It is valid for the whole day and can be used as many times as needed. Timetables for the tram do change from time to time & you can find the most recent timetable on their website.
When I visited Bendigo (May 2022), the first Vintage Talking Tram did not depart Central Debrah Gold Mine until 10 am, although the ticket office at the gold mine opens from 9.30 am already.
With that being said, the ticket to this Vintage Talking Tram also included access to the above-ground gold mine museum at Central Deborah Gold Mine. So I used the 30-minute waiting time walking through the miner’s change rooms, blacksmith shop, first aid room, and the gold museum instead. It was an interesting experience on its own.
Central Deborah Gold Mine (optional)
Central Deborah Gold Mine is a real gold mine that operated between 1939 and 1954. Nowadays, visitors can join one of its underground gold mine tours to peek through the life in the mine & learn the process of gold mining.
The 61-metre underground gold mine tour takes about 75 minutes to complete & it costs AUD 35 per adult (July 2022). You can either purchase it at the ticket office or online. I suggest purchasing online during peak seasons, so you are not missing out on your preferred time slots.
As mentioned above, the Vintage Talking Tram departs from/arrives at Central Deborah Gold Mine, so you may wish to join the tour either before or just after your tram ride. However, the tour does take a significant amount of time, so you may need to skip certain attractions from this itinerary if the underground tour is what you prefer to partake in.
Bendigo Joss House Temple
From Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Vintage Talking Tram will take you across the buzzing Bendigo CBD to the heritage-listed Chinese temple, Bendigo Joss House Temple.
Bendigo Joss House Temple is a small temple worshipping Kwan Gong, the god of war and prosperity. First opened its door to the public in 1871, Joss House Temple is one of the few remaining temples of its kind in Australia. It is a great place to broaden your understanding of Chinese culture and beliefs.
Bendigo Joss House Temple is only open on selected days of the week & make sure you check out their website for up-to-date opening hours before visiting.
In saying that, when visiting Bendigo Joss House Temple via the Vintage Talking Tram, the tram conductor should be able to inform you if the temple is open as well.
Gold Dragon Museum
Gold Dragon Museum is a must-visit in Bendigo. Although it is a seemingly small and insignificant building, the Gold Dragon Museum houses an incredible range of collections, ranging from the world’s oldest and longest imperial dragon to Australia’s largest collection of Chinese currency & everything in between.
It doesn’t matter if you have much understanding of Chinese culture, a visit to the Gold Dragon Museum will still impress you with its vast collection of antiques and artefacts. These displays will take you back to the gold rush era to experience Bendigo’s immense prosperity back in the day.
Entry to Gold Dragon Museum requires a ticket, which is AUD 12 per adult (July 2022). This ticket will also provide you access to the adjacent Chinese garden and Kuan Yin Temple, which are also worth checking out.
If you only have time to visit either Bendigo Joss House Temple or the Gold Dragon Museum, I would suggest visiting Gold Dragon Museum for sure. Joss House Temple is fabulous, but it is very small and functions more as a place of worship. In comparison, Gold Dragon Museum provides a more comprehensive experience with its museum, classic Chinese garden, and Kuan Yin Temple.
After visiting Gold Dragon Museum, you may wish to also check out the beautiful Rosalind Park nearby.
Rosalind Park is a stunning Victorian-style garden along Bendigo Creek, between Park Road and View Street.
Within Rosalind Park, you can find a range of adorable plants and trees, many of which are also listed on the heritage register. There is also a beautiful 3-tiered water fountain near Poppet Head Lookout & worth checking out.
Poppet Head Lookout
Poppet Head Lookout is situated on top of Camp Hill, right next to the beautiful Rosalind Park. Poppet Head Lookout got its name because it was originally used as a Poppet Head at the Golden Gully United Mine before being re-erected at its current location in 1931 as a lookout platform.
At Poppet Head Lookout, there are a few flights of stairs between the base and the top lookout platform. Unfortunately, no lifts or wheelchair access is available to the lookout platform.
Once arrived at the top lookout platform, you will be greeted with an unparalleled panoramic view of Rosalind Park, Bendigo city, and the surrounding suburbs. It is the best place to admire this remarkable city and to re-orientate yourself.
Access to Poppet Head Lookout is free. It opens early in the morning (but after sunrise) & closes just after sunset. If time allows, you may wish to also come back to Poppet Head Lookout for a spectacular sunset view at a later time & it will not disappoint.
Bendigo Art Gallery
Bendigo Art Gallery is one of the oldest and largest regional art galleries in Australia. It houses a good collection of European, British, and Australian paintings from the 1800s onwards.
In addition to its permeant collections, Bendigo Art Gallery also houses a range of popular temporary art exhibitions.
Access to Bendigo Art Gallery is free. However, some of its temporary exhibitions may require tickets to enter.
Bendigo City Centre
After visiting Bendigo Art Gallery, make sure you take a stroll from Charing Cross to explore Bendigo’s grand Victorian-era architecture.
From Charing Cross, I suggest taking a walk towards Bull Street along Pall Mall, then turn right onto Bull Street to check out Hargreaves Street and Chancery Lane. Along this walk, you will be walking past a range of historic landmarks, such as Alexandra Fountain, Soldiers Memorial, the old Post Office building, Bendigo Magistrates’ Court, and Bendigo Town Hall.
Among these historic buildings, I highly suggest checking out the Old Post Office building. Although it is currently used as Bendigo Visitor Centre, this marvellous Victorian building is still radiating an old-world charm. There are also small museums/exhibitions within the Old Post Office building, showcasing Bendigo’s glorious past and a good collection of local arts.
Make sure you also check out the buzzing Chancery Lane, which is tucked between Pall Mall and Hargreaves Street. In Chancery Lane, you can find a range of quirky cafes, unique stores, and interesting mural arts. It is a great place to take a break after a busy morning.
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Sacred Heart Cathedral is a grand sandstone cathedral, built in 1897. With its main spire at 87 metres tall, Sacred Heart Cathedral is the third tallest cathedral in Australia and the largest Gothic cathedral in the Southern Hemisphere.
This grand cathedral is the most prominent building you will notice from Poppet Head Lookout & you will also be seeing this picturesque cathedral from many street corners around Bendigo.
Sacred Heart Cathedral is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday when no mass or other church events are happening (as of May 2022). Make sure you take a walk to admire this majestic cathedral from within if you happen to be there during its visiting hours.
Access to Sacred Heart Cathedral is free, but donations are welcomed.
When I visited, there was also a friendly gentleman providing helpful information about Sacred Heart Cathedral to all its visitors.
Great Stupa of Universal Compassion
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is a replica of the 600-year-old Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet. With 50-metre in height and width, the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is the largest stupa outside of Asia.
In addition to its sheer size, the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is also famous for its 2.5-metre high Jade Buddha statue. It is the largest gemstone Buddha statue in the world.
Around the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, you can also find a large garden with a range of statues and prayer wheels around. It was really calming to take a walk around this garden and enjoy some solitude.
Cafe and gift shop are also available at the entrance, so you can grab a bite and some unique gifts.
Entry to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is free, but donations are welcomed.
Access to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is by driving or taxi only. There is no public transport available to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion.
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is about a 20-minute drive from Bendigo. There is also a section of rough dirt road before arriving at the stupa, but it will be well worth the drive!
How to Get to Bendigo
Visiting Bendigo by Car
Visiting Bendigo by car is the easiest and most convenient way of visiting Bendigo.
Visiting Bendigo by Public Transport
Direct train service is available between Melbourne and Bendigo, which makes it really easy to visit Bendigo from Melbourne by public transport. A visit to Bendigo from Melbourne CBD only takes less than 2 hours by train.
Once you have arrived at Bendigo Station, most of the attractions on this itinerary are only a short bus ride away. Since Bendigo is a relatively small city, you can even walk to many of these attractions from Bendigo Station. The only place you will need to catch a taxi or use a ride-share service to visit is the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion.
If you are visiting Bendigo via public transport from other Victorian cities, it can be tricky. There is no direct train service between Geelong/Ballarat and Bendigo. Hence, visiting Bendigo by train will take almost 3 hours from Geelong and 2.5 hours from Ballarat.
Where to Stay in Bendigo
Since I was travelling solo, I didn’t want to spend too much on accommodations. After reading endless reviews, I ended up booking a double room with a shared bathroom at Bendigo Backpackers & it did not disappoint!
It was the cleanest, cutest, and most spacious backpacker’s I have ever been to! Although it was a shared bathroom, I was only sharing it with one other person. Towels were also supplied at a room rate of only AUD 67.50 per night (May 2022 via Booking.com). The location was superb as well & I can definitely stay at this place again for my future visits.
If you are travelling with a travel companion or a family, there is also a range of hotels/motels to choose from in Bendigo. Many of them are in the price range of AUD 100-200 per night for a double room (Booking.com – July 2022) & with decent reviews.