Inland city is as bountiful as it is beautiful
STORY: JEN SHAND PHOTOGRAPHY: VISIT VICTORIA
The historic gold rush city of Bendigo offers a smorgasbord of attractions for people wanting to escape the frenzy of metropolitan life.
Surrounded by expansive parks and reserves, the central Victorian city of about 153,000 people serves up lifestyle and affordability on a plate, seasoned with culture and arts, quality facilities and a diverse economy. And plenty of people are enjoying the banquet.
When gold fever struck in 1851, it didn’t take long for a tent city, housing thousands, to grow. Today, the many ornate, grand buildings that infuse the city centre with charm and character are a testament to those gold-rich days. They stand side-by-side with modern constructions, including a new $630 million hospital, while period homes fringed with iron lace share suburbs with contemporary houses, units and developing estates.
With house prices ranging from $300,000 to well over two million, property and data analytics firm CoreLogic’s July quarterly update lists the median price across Greater Bendigo municipality at $403,530. Bendigo’s property market has increased 7.7 percent over 12 months.
Bendigo, a major service hub situated about 150 kilometres to Melbourne’s north-west, is one of Victoria’s fastest growing regional centres.
Sprawled over rolling hills, it’s an attractive city. Rosalind Park, with its cascade waterfall and fernery, is located in the heart of the city, while beautiful Lake Weeroona, which sits in an 18-hectare reserve to the north, is always popular. The lake is adjacent to Bendigo Creek.
If you love walking and cycling, there are plenty of options such as the 65-kilometre Bendigo Bushland Trail. The trail takes you through remnant Box-Ironbark regrowth as it circles the city. The Greater Bendigo National Park is popular with hikers.
There are many historic and cultural attractions to capture your interest in Bendigo. Delve into the city’s strong Chinese heritage at the Golden Dragon Museum and Joss House Temple, tour the famous Central Deborah Mine, check out Bendigo Art Gallery’s impressive collection of Australian art or visit Bendigo Pottery, Australia’s oldest working pottery. Or you could catch a vintage tram, then simply wander the streets and enjoy the beautiful buildings.
“We’ve been able to achieve a better work-life balance by living here instead of the city. Both my husband and I don’t have to work full-time, which is fantastic.”
The city, which was Australia’s highest producing goldfield in the 19th Century, is also rich in events. The annual calendar includes farmers markets and festival offerings for writers, music lovers and craft beer and cider enthusiasts. Its annual four-day Bendigo Easter Festival, which includes a Chinese dragon parade, is the longest running cultural festival in the nation. And if you’re hunting for car parts, the Bendigo National Swap Meet in November attracts people from across the country.
When people move to a new location, quality facilities and infrastructure are important. Bendigo’s line-up includes major hospitals, a range of public and private schools, tertiary options including TAFE and a La Trobe University campus, an extensive bus network, taxi companies and an airport. It is connected to Melbourne via the duplicated Calder Highway and a fast rail service, with many people commuting to the state capital for work.
Add in a strong retail sector with plenty of cafes and restaurants and a great offering of sporting clubs and facilities, and you’re spoiled for choice. The fact it’s a renowned food and wine region is simply the icing on the cake.
As national headquarters of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, it’s no surprise that finance is a key industry in Bendigo. Health, tourism, education, food processing, commerce, engineering and primary industries are also major employers.
The Traditional Custodians of the land on which Bendigo stands are the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung peoples of the Kulin Nation.
WATTLE ROAD 🖤 The vibrancy of this small city that not only provides its community with a depth of health and education services, but celebrates its heritage with a rich calendar of events.
DISTANCE: 150km from Melbourne
POPULATION: 153,000 people
WHO LIVES HERE?
According to the 2016 Census
♦ The median age of people in Bendigo was 42 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 18.5% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 19.2% of the population.
♦ Of the families in Bendigo, 39.9% were couple families with children, 41.3% were couple families without children and 17.3% were one parent families.
♦ 8% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 2.3%, New Zealand 0.8%, India 0.5%, Philippines 0.4% and Scotland 0.3%.
♦ The most common occupations in Bendigo included Professionals 20.5%, Technicians and Trades Workers 14.2%, Managers 12.8%, Labourers 11.9%, and Community and Personal Service Workers 11.8%.
CLIMATE: Warm and temperate, with significant rainfall. January average temperatures: max 29ºC, min 13.8ºC. July average temperatures: max 12.1ºC, min 3.2ºC.
MAJOR EMPLOYERS: The National headquarters of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is in Bendigo. Other strong employment sectors are the health care and social assistance industry, education, manufacturing, construction and retail.
SCHOOLS: There are 28 State primary schools in Bendigo, four State secondary schools and a selection of private schools including the P-12 Girton Grammar and Catherine McAuley College, a Catholic secondary school. The Bendigo Senior Secondary College, for Year 11 and 12, is the largest provider of VCE, VET and VCAL in the State. Tertiary options include a TAFE and a La Trobe University campus.
HEALTH CARE: Bendigo Health is a leading regional health service with 4000 staff and three campuses across the city. The 724-bed hospital treats more than 49,000 inpatients a year and delivers around 1400 babies. In addition to acute hospital services it offer inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, a regional psychiatric services, residential care, specialist clinics, dialysis and a range of outreach services such as hospital in the home. The city is also served by the private, 167-bed St John of God Bendigo Hospital and a range of allied health providers
NBN CONNECTION: Fibre To The Node (FTTN)
PROPERTY PRICES: The median sale price of houses in Bendigo is $432,500. The median price of units is $360,000. The change in median price in the last five years is 31%.
SPORTS AND RECREATION: All the major sports are represented in clubs across Bendigo. The city council manages more than 50 sports field and a significant number of parklands where sport and leisure activities are held. These include skate parks and BMX tracks. There are also 12 swimming facilities and a splash park in the city.
ARTS AND CULTURE: A well-known regional gallery that has brought unique exhibitions to the city is central to the active arts sector in Bendigo. The city is alive with street art, historic sculptures, murals and installations. And there are events all year round. Visitors flock to the Bendigo Easter Festival, the Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival and the Chinese New Year festival. The town’s Golden Dragon Museum is a must-see.
Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist
I think one of the main benefits of living in Bendigo is there’s bushland all around us. No matter where you live there’s a pocket of bush not far away. As a family, we spend a lot of time doing bushwalks and hunting for native orchids. It’s one of our favourite things.
I was born and raised in Bendigo, headed off to the city for a decade and then came back when it was time to think about buying a house and having children. It’s a great place. We live in a really safe neighbourhood and our two kids ride their bikes unsupervised and play with friends on their own. There’s real freedom for them.
We’ve been able to achieve a better work-life balance by living here instead of the city. Both my husband and I don’t have to work full time, which is fantastic.
We live only a 15-minute drive from the city centre and our block is quite large, has an extensive vegie patch and lots of fruit trees. We’ve got the best of both worlds.
I think we’ve got a really close-knit community and I don’t think we’re missing out on anything in Bendigo. There are great theatres, a really strong arts community, lots of cafes and restaurants. The public school system is pretty strong, and you’ve also got La Trobe University here, a branch of Monash University that works out of the hospital and the TAFE is quite large. Our kids won’t have to leave for education unless they want to.
We’re really happy with our decision to live in Bendigo.
Family photo: From left Cale Harris, Ceda Jarick, Cohen Harris, Craig Harris
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
FIND A PROPERTY
35 Cloverfields Crescent, Epsom
4 2 2
87 Barkly Street, Bendigo
4 2 1
120 Barnard Street, Bendigo
3 3 3
231 McCrae Street, Bendigo
4 2 2