Bendigo is a former Gold Rush town in Central Victoria and one of our regular regional destinations with the kids. The city offers grand Victorian buildings, lovely streetscapes and a slower pace of life, while still boasting interesting cultural and culinary attractions. It’s just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne or 90-120 minutes via V/Line from Southern Cross Station.
Here are my tips on things to do in Bendigo with kids, including where to stay, visit, play and eat.
Things to do in Bendigo with Kids
1. Bendigo Art Gallery
Bendigo Art Gallery is Australia’s largest regional gallery and in the past few years it has hosted some world-class exhibitions. Their latest exhibition is ‘Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits‘ with works borrowed from the National Portrait Gallery, London (16 March – 14 July 2019).
It’s an exhibition that’s probably worth visiting alone, but if you do go with kids (under 5s are free) you can bribe them with a treat from the kid-friendly Gallery Cafe.
Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St, Bendigo 03 5434 6088
2. Golden Dragon Museum
The Golden Dragon Museum bills itself as the ‘Chinese Cultural Centre of Australia’ and your $11 entry (Children (5-14 $6) includes entry into the museum displays, the Chinese gardens and the Kuan Yin Temple.
As a first-generation Chinese immigrant I find it fascinating to learn about the historical significance of Chinese people in Australia. It charts the origins of the majority of the Chinese miners who came for the gold rush in the 1850s with artefacts, furniture and everyday goods and follows their assimilation into Anglo Australian society and their contributions to the communities of Bendigo and Victoria.
On a balcony surrounding the circular central gallery is a collection of the Chinese Dragons and their associated regalia used in the Bendigo’s annual Easter procession.
Golden Dragon Museum 1-11 Bridge St, Bendigo +61 3 5441 5044
3. Bendigo Easter Festival
The Bendigo Easter Festival is an annual event that offers lots of free/low-cost entertainment for families, when the weather is generally mild. The whole city comes alive with parades and festivities!
4. Discovery Science and Technology Centre
Bendigo’s version to Questacon or Scienceworks is a cheap day out, even from Melbourne as the VLine station is across the road.
Take your Museum Victoria membership card to get free entry into Discovery Science Centre. Read my review.
Discovery Science and Technology Centre, 7 Railway Pl, Bendigo, 03 5444 4400
5. Camp Hill playground
Inside Bendigo’s huge central park, Rosalind Park, you’ll find a nice fenced playground with lots of ramps and walkways, slides, climbing sculptures and rocks and mounds for more climbing. There are water taps inside the fence and Rosalind Park has public toilets.
Note that because it is the playground for Camp Hill school it is only open to the public outside of school hours.
Camp Hill playground, Rosalind Park, 50 Goal Rd, Bendigo
6. Eaglehawk Playspace
A huge playground in suburban Eaglehawk inspired by the A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s poem ‘Mulga Bill’s Bicycle’ and the shape of the eaglehawk, or wedge-tailed eagle.
You’ll see references to Mulga Bill in the artworks, play equipment and lines from the poem etched into logs. The lake even features Mulga Bill’s untimely end! Read my review.
Eaglehawk Playspace, Napier St, Eaglehawk
7. Lake Weeroona Adventure Playground
On the shores of Lake Weeroona is a large fully fenced playground. The main structure features lots of ramps, tunnels, slides and bridges. Standing apart from the main area are four swings. The ground is all soft fall and on the perimeter are roadways and roadsigns for scooters and bikes.
The playground has some natural shade and there are shaded and unshaded seats within the fenced area. Outside the fence there are shelters with tables and toilets.
Lake Weeroona Adventure Playground, Napier St, Bendigo
8. Fun Loong playground
OK I admit it. I just LOVE the name of this playground!
The playground at Hargreaves Street mall takes its name from Sun Loong, the world’s largest imperial dragon housed in the Golden Dragon Museum and Bendigo’s pride. It’s a really colourful, well-designed and semi-shaded space in pedestrian mall and a handy stop if you are in the centre of town or doing some shopping.
Fun Loong playground, Hargreaves St Mall, Bendigo
9. Cooinda Park playground
After an arson attack in 2016, this suburban playground has rebuilt its bank of awesome rainbow wave slides. We visited when the slides were not there and while it was fun, it was not really worth a special trip unless you’re in the area.
Cooinda Park playground, Cnr Norma Street and McKenzie Street West, Golden Square
Find Hotels and Airbnbs in Bendigo
10. The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion
In the middle of the bush is an unlikely sight – The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion. It is a sacred Buddhist monument and is modelled on the Great Stupa of Gyantse, which is 600 years old. When it is finished it will be the highest stupa in the Western World.
You don’t have to be Buddhist to visit, just be respectful.
The Peace Park showcases symbols from many faiths including Catholic, Sikh, Islam and Hindu.
It is free to enter and there is a self-guided tour. The Stupaview Cafe serves cheap vegetarian food with vegan options.
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, 25 Sandhurst Town Road, Myers Flat, Bendigo
11. Bendigo Pottery
For over 150 years Bendigo Pottery has creating high-quality ceramics and it is the oldest working pottery in Australia. There you’ll find a shop and cafe, demonstrations of hand throwing by potters and hands-on activities, particularly during school holidays.
Bendigo Pottery, 146 Midland Hwy, Epsom, 03 5448 4404
12. Central Deborah Gold Mine
Explore the hidden underground tunnels of a real gold mine that operated during the gold rush boom of the 1900s. It’s one of Bendigo’s biggest tourist attractions but we’re yet to go as the kids are still freaked out by dark enclosed spaces!
Central Deborah Gold Mine, 76 Violet St, Bendigo, 03 5443 8322
13. Park Lane Play
Park Lane Play is an indoor play centre in Bendigo, suitable for kids 3 – 14 years, with a toddler area for kids under 4. They’ve also got a jumping pillow outside, and BBQ facilities.
The multi level indoor play structure includes 5 slides, a soft ball cannon play zone, two trampolines, a large ball pit, a flying fox and more.
Park Lane Play, 761 McIvor Hwy, Bendigo, 03 5449 3335
14. Bendigo Cinemas
There are 6 theatres at Bendigo Cinemas, showing the latest releases. There is a range of special deals and screenings on offer (varying from time to time) including a Movie of the Week for $10, discounted kids movies and an everyday low price. They also have Sensory Friendly Films with the lights turned up and the sound turned down.
Bendigo Cinemas, 107 Queen St, Bendigo, 03 5440 8000
15. Confectionery Capers
This is not what you think! Although they do have a selection of confectionery for sale, it’s not a lolly shop.
Confectionery Capers is a gallery of sorts, full to the brim with machines and engines that wiggle and wobble and move (many with lollies displayed on top) in an eccentric celebration of the wheel as man’s greatest invention. There are also lots of Capergrams and Caperphrases on display – plays on words that often result in humour.
Confectionery Capers, 1028 McIvor Hwy, Junortoun, 03 5449 3111
Where to shop in Bendigo
16. Book Now
Book Now holds the mystique of old dusty tomes waiting to be discovered with the grandeur of a two-levelled Bodleian-esque library. We visit every time we visit Bendigo.
Books are sorted by category (with seating in nooks and crannies between shelves) with highlights including the non-fiction literature and antiquarian collections. It’s got a small collection of children’s books in the back corner but predominantly it’s a shop better for adult readers.
Book Now, 1 Farmers Lane, Bendigo 03 5443 8587
17. The Epicurean
The Epicurean is an Italian gourmet deli and providore which has a substantial range of take-home meals along with bread, smallgoods, cheeses and cakes and sweets (you can also dine in). You can fill a large tub for $15.50 and a small tub for $9 and given a large tub easily feeds two to three people it’s a complete bargain.
The Epicurean 79 Mitchell St. Bendigo 03 5443 2699
18. Bendigo Farmers Market
Every second Saturday of the month Bendigo holds a Farmers Market from 9-1pm at the Rosalind Park end of Williamson St. The market sells fresh, regional and seasonal produce.
Bendigo Farmers Market Williamson St, Bendigo
Where to eat in Bendigo with Kids
19. The Woodhouse
Authentic steakhouse and pizzeria where everything is cooked, roasted, baked or grilled with sustainable redgum wood from Barmah. It’s homely, rustic fare done with panache and no gas! We tried their wood-fired pizzas with a crispy, slightly bready, base, and I highly recommend the stuffed poussin with roasted veg. The dessert platter is also a feast to behold and is really suitable for three to four people, not just two!
The Woodhouse 101 Williamson St, Bendigo, 03 5443 8671
20. Percy and Percy
Percy and Percy is a former grocer turned delightful neighbourhood cafe. The café is spacious, with a main dining room, a secluded private room and outdoor courtyard.
The menu is comfort food done with an imaginative twist and there’s a small children’s menu.
Percy and Percy Cnr Hargreaves & Baxter Sts, Bendigo, 03 5442 2997
21. Cortille Café
Axil Coffee is served from a trailer installed inside Cortille Café, a popular CBD all day cafe.
The all day breakfast and lunch menu has a special section just for waffles so they’re a must-try!
Cortille Café, 322 Lyttleton Terrace, Bendigo, 03 5444 3082
This specialist coffee roastery and cafe has a fit out lifted right out of the laneways of Melbourne and is a buzzing place on weekends with families and hipsters alike.
For families there’s plenty of pram space, a stack of high chairs, a kids menu and even a separate play space!
Brewhouse Coffee Roasters 402 Hargreaves St, Bendigo, 03 5442 8224
23. The Good Loaf
Bendigo’s first and only sourdough bakery is housed in an old service station. It is a small space (they can provide a high chair) and as you can imagine the menu is very bread heavy. Highly recommend their polenta bread and semi-sourdough corn bread.
The Good Loaf, 404 Hargreaves St, Bendigo, 03 5444 2171, 26 Mercy St, Bendigo, 03 5444 3130
24. Edwards Providore
Edwards Providore is slightly out of town but this produce store and café wouldn’t be amiss in the affluent leafy suburbs of Melbourne.
Everything on the menu in the café is made from the fresh foods that they sell. They also have produce and meals to take home for sale.
Edwards Providore, 150 Condon St, Kennington, 03 5444 2244
25. Chancery Lane
Chancery Lane off Pall Mall is Bendigo’s laneway of food and art in the CBD, with the bustling wine bar The Dispensary and the Spanish-inspired El Gordo cafe. Being small, narrow restaurants they are not particularly child/pram friendly in terms of facilities but kids are welcome – our kids have both visited these restaurants.
- Bendigo Corner Store Café 305 View Street 03 5442 2008 – organic coffee and free range produce with a backyard for the children to play in. The store portion of the café sells milk, bread and newspapers plus other convenience items.
- Bendigo Wholefoods – 314 Lyttleton Terrace (03) 5443 9492 – Community food store with locally grown and made products and adjoining cafe.
- Old Green Bean 179 Lyttleton Tce, Bendigo 5444 3173 – vintage store, coffee roastery and cafe.
26. All Seasons Hotel Bendigo
The All Seasons Bistro is inside the All Seasons Hotel, and it has a kids play area. There’s games consoles and a toddler area. There are also plenty of meal options, including a snacks menu.
All Seasons Bistro, All Seasons Hotel, 171-183 McIvor Hwy, Bendigo, 03 5443 8166
Where to stay in Bendigo with kids
I look for accommodation on the Bendigo Tourism site and Airbnb.
27. Big4 Bendigo Park Lane
BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park is located about 15 minutes drive from Bendigo CBD, near Junorton. Like all Big4 caravan parks it is supremely family friendly, with a pool, jumping pillow, pedal go-karts and Bendigo’s biggest indoor playground Parky’s Wonderland!
BIG4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park, 761 McIvor Highway, Junortoun Bendigo
For more accommodation options in Bendigo, I recommend checking out what’s available on Airbnb.
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