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A weekend in Bendigo: eat and drink

Discover the joy of missing out on the rat race when you visit this Gold Rush town with a thriving gallery and craft scene, boutique food and wine experiences, and oodles of historic charm

Once, they came here lured by gold. Today, Bendigo’s cultural and culinary riches are the drawcard. This town at the geographic heart of Victoria boomed during the Gold Rush of the 1850s, a legacy of which are many grand Victorian buildings, parks, and surrounding villages. In recent years, Bendigo and its villages have attracted a new breed of tree-changers with experience in the arts, design, food and wine.

Just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne Airport or 90-120 minutes via V/Line from Southern Cross Station, Bendigo has plenty to offer visitors, whether they’re seeking exclusive exhibitions and festivals, world-class eating and drinking, or simply an escape from the frenetic pace of Melbourne.

While you're planning your trip to the Bendigo Art Gallery's Marilyn Monroe exhibition, be sure to check out other great things to see and do, as well as our accommodation recommendations and official Marilyn packages.

Where to eat and drink

Masons of Bendigo

Arguably the top local restaurant is Masons of Bendigo. Sitting pretty between the casual and fine-dining class, the restaurant’s English, French and Asian-inspired menu takes diners on a tour of the region’s flavours as husband-and-wife chefs Nick and Sonia Anthony source ingredients from local farmers. Central Victoria’s bounty of produce is celebrated and respected – pork from the old breed Berkshire pigs grown in a nearby farm is presented simply in Vietnamese-style salad with nuoc cham dressing, while aged beef from Inglewood (quite literally the next town over) gets the steak frites treatment with hand-cut Royal Blue chips. 

 
25 Queen St. 03 5443 3877. www.masonsofbendigo.com. au. Tue-Sat lunch and dinner. 
 
 

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Gallery Café

So you’ve seen the Marilyn Monroe exhibition – once you've been through the gift shop, make your way through to the Gallery Café at the Bendigo Art Gallery. The recently refurbished glasshouse café was designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects (the team behind the Eureka Tower) and allows for stunning views of Rosalind Park. If breakfast is your thing, order an eggs benedict or chia bowl from the all day breakfast menu. Alternatively, the ‘Lazy Arvo Nibbles’ menus hits the spot when you feel like a cheeseboard or toasted sandwich to tide you over after your gallery visit.

42 View St. 03 5441 8896. www.bendigoartgallery.com.au. Daily 10am-5pm.

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Percy and Percy

Percy and Percy is the place to go if you need to refuel with a spot of lunch and a good coffee. The café, which wouldn’t look out of place in Fitzroy with its light filled space and  blonde timber benches, used to be an old corner store (the kind where you’d get bag of lollies for a few cents). If you can't walk past the glass cabinet of homemade treats without choosing one, current house specialties include Moroccan lamb rolls and the ‘Percy Dog’ – a kransky with onions and chips. 
Cnr Hargreaves & Baxter Sts. 03 5442 2997. www.facebook.com/PercyAndPercy.

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Rocks on Rosalind

A heritage-listed bank might not be an obvious choice for a fine dining restaurant, but that’s exactly what you get at Rocks on Rosalind. Order a Martini at the bar and tuck into the seasonal and locally sourced menu, all within the original stone clad fault. Affordable banquets mean you can treat your party to a country-style feast without breaking the bank (banquets range from $35 to $90), but before you leave don’t forget to ask the friendly staff to show you around the historic bank. 

12 View St. 03 5441 2222. www.rocksonrosalind.com. Sun-Thu Noon-9pm; Fri-Sat Noon-10pm.

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El Gordo

This Spanish laneway eatery is a café by day and a tapas bar on Friday and Saturday nights. Tucked away on Chancery Lane, it’s a great spot for an evening snack of cold cuts or sardines on toast with a refreshing spritz. This café is also a favourite among locals for their spot-on waffles and breakfast burrito. 

Chancery Lane, 0414 412 894. www.elgordobendigo.com. Mon-Thu 8am-4pm; Fri-Sat 8am-2pm & 5-11pm. 

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What's on

 
Strategem Bendigo Winemakers Festival 
Bring a picnic rug and sample wines from from local winegrowers, feast on gourmet meals crafted from the freshest local produce while you’re serenaded by live music entertainment in the historic Rosalind Park. This ultimate pop-up cellar door event is family-friendly event, so bring the kids along.
Rosalind Park. 1800 813 153. www.bendigowine.org.au. Sat May 7.

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