In the 19th century, Bendigo (in central Victoria), was the highest producing gold town in Australia. Gold was discovered in Bendigo in 1851 by two women washing their clothes in the creek not far from the Central Deborah Gold Mine and after they told a few people of the find (I bet they were kicking themselves, in hindsight!) there was the famous gold rush! Since then, a massive 777 tonnes of gold has been removed from this area and many of the tourist attractions centre around Bendigo’s rich gold mining history.
The Discovery Science and Technology Centre*
We loved the Discovery Science and Technology Centre! It is an amazing all-weather attraction that will keep this kids entertained for hours! Actually, the kids weren’t the only ones entertained … Tim and I loved it too!
There are so many displays that children (and adults) can play with while they learn that you could easily spend a morning or afternoon at the centre (and there is a food court just across the road in the shopping centre!).
The Discovery Science and Technology Centre also has a designated under 6’s play area called Kaleidoscope where children enter through the giant rainbow to ride the miniature John Deer tractor, search for treasure in the mini gold mine and see the world through the eyes of a giraffe!
For the more courageous, there is southern hemisphere’s tallest Vertical Slide where adults and children over 5 can drop 7 metres at a speed of 30-40km per hour! Tim and I had a go, Alegría wanted nothing to do with it! It definitely gets your palms sweaty and your heart racing (sorry about the blurry photo – you move really quickly)!
During the school holidays they have lots of different activities going on – we saw their “Under Pressure!” show which was great!
Although the Planetarium looked interesting, it was not suited to little ones (we left 5 minutes into the presentation so we didn’t annoy everyone else!). I’d suggest 7+ be a better age group for this section.
They are closed for the month of February so don’t plan a visit during this time.
Make sure you check their website.
Central Deborah Gold Mine*
The Central Deborah Gold Mine was one of 5400 working gold mines in Bendigo and operated between 1939 to 1954. It now operates as a tourist attraction offering a variety of tours and even birthday parties.
Above ground, the Central Deborah Gold Mine is a museum that you can discover at your own pace. There is a lot to see and do – watch gold melting demonstrations and hopefully you’ll strike it rich whilst gold panning! We had to rush this part (as we were on a tight schedule) but I would definitely recommend up to an hour to do this as the kids were really into panning for gold.
We took the guided mine experience tour, which goes for 75 minutes, and is available for ages 3+. The tour sees you fitted with a miners hat and light (mini miners like Isaac get a flash light) to decend 61 metres below the earth’s surface to Level 2.
Our guide was a wealth of knowledge and had many interesting historical and geological facts to tell. One thing is for sure the miners conditions were not good and it is a surprise to us how any of them actually survived! Tim and I really liked the tour and Alegría for the most part was engaged and soaking it all in. Isaac found it a little long and after 30 mins wanted to go home! I would suggest that 5+ would be a better age and 10+ would be a really great age to retain all of the information presented.
Wear enclosed shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting wet (water drips through the walls / roof and there is some small puddles) and take some warm clothes as it’s chilly underground!
More information about the Central Deborah Mine can be found on their website.
Bendigo Joss House Temple*
From when gold was first discovered in 1851 to the present day, the Chinese community has been a part of the proud history of Bendigo. The Bendigo Joss House Temple allows you to discover more about the Chinese migrants who came to Bendigo in search of gold. It was constructed in the late 1860s and is one of the few remaining buildings of its type in Australia.We were very mindful that it is a Chinese place of worship and as there are no ‘hands on’ displays the kids were ready to go after a quick walk through.
This temple is not suitable for little kids although if you ask nicely the attendant might let them feed the fish in the front courtyard.
For more information on the Bendigo Joss House Temple please visit their website.
Vintage “Talking” Tram*
The Talking Tram is a refurbished tram that travels from the Central Deborah Gold Mine to the Bendigo Joss House Temple and gives visitors an audio tour of Bendigo. It is very similar to the free “City Circle” trams in Melbourne. The tram itself is loud so it is really hard to hear the commentary, especially if there is a crowd onboard.
Your hop on / hop off ticket is valid for two days and costs $51 for a family, $17.50 for adults and $11 for children. You can get better overall prices if you combine it with a Central Deborah Gold Mine or Bendigo Joss House Temple tour.
Park your car for free at either the Central Deborah Gold Mine or the Joss House and use the tram to get around central Bendigo – Perfect if you want to see the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, The Central Deborah Mine, Lake Weeroona and Golden Dragon Museum!
More information about the Bendigo Tramways and combined tours can be found here.
Lake Weeroona is such a pretty spot to spend a few hours! As the name suggests, there is a lake but we were pleasantly surprised by the playground, walking trails and there is even a boardwalk café if you are feeling hungry! On the day we visited there was a coffee cart – perfect if you need a pick-me-up!
The Talking Tram stops at Lake Weeroona – so make sure you hope off and explore!
Pack a picnic and enjoy this great child-friendly park.
For more information click here.
Long Gully Splash Park
The Long Gully Splash Park is located at the Long Gully Recreation Reserve (4.5kms from Bendigo’s CBD) and has wet and dry play areas.
The splash park is open every day during the summer months only (November – March), from 9am-8pm.
Entry to the park is free (the car park gets very full!) and there are BBQ’s, picnic tables, a drinking fountain and a shade sail that covers most of the park.Every thing that you would expect at a splash park is here in Long Gully – bubblers, mushrooms, tipping buckets, water cannons and water features in a mining theme. The dry play area has a slide, climbing frame and basketball ring.
Other attractions worth a look!
Bendigo Pottery is Australia’s oldest working pottery that was established in 1858. The site includes: Retail Pottery Sales, Artist studios, Antique centre with 34 stalls, Café, Hands on clay experience including wheel throwing and clay play, Interpretive Museum – self guided tour and Function Centre. We can’t wait to go and have a play with the clay!
Golden Dragon Museum
The Golden Dragon Museum is an interesting museum that details the Chinese history in Bendigo. I remember the dragons from the Easter Parade that my Mum used to take me to as a child – I wonder if they are as big as I remember?!
The Zone Family Entertainment Complex
The Zone Family Entertainment Complex has mini golf, laser tag, go karts, skating and lots of other things to keep older kids entertained. The Kids Zone consists of a play centre, maze and Kiddie go karts. This is definitely on our “next time in Bendigo” list!
Confectionery Capers has nothing to do with confectionery although there is a small confectionery shop where you can purchase many of your favourite indulgences including mixed lollies and chocolate bars! It is basically a shed full of toys and other machines spinning and moving around! My bet is that anywhere with lots of movement and buttons to press will be popular with kids!
Where to stay?
There are heaps of options … but this might help you out!
A Final Word …
We were in Bendigo for two nights and were able to see so much! Obviously, there is much more to see and we can’t wait to go back again! I think 4 nights would be perfect to see and do all of what Bendigo has to offer for a family!
* We were guests of The Bendigo Trust who manage the Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Bendigo Joss House Temple and the Bendigo Tramways. We were also guests of the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, however, our opinions are honest and unbiased.
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