What do the four shires surrounding the buzzing Victorian centres of Bendigo, Daylesford, Castlemaine and Maryborough have in common? In 2018, they’re teaming up to form the Regional Centre for Culture. Over 12 big months, the RCC will host music festivals, shows, exhibitions and community events shining a light on talented locals, as well as celebrating the rich history and continuing presence of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, who are the traditional owners of the land. Each of the shires in the RCC has their own personality (are you all about the relaxing spas of Daylesford? Or keen to soak up the arty atmosphere of Castlemaine?), and we recommend exploring as much of the RCC as possible. We’ve put together your ultimate guide to an RCC adventure, including what to see and do, where to eat and where to stay.
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The best of the RCC
Highlight events of the RCC
‘Never-ending Journey’ weaving workshop and exhibition
Master weaver Aunty Marilyne Nicholls is hosting a ten-week weaving workshop in Maryborough this winter. Participants in the workshop will learn the traditional weaving process and create at least one completed work. With only ten workshop places available, this is your chance to learn the art of weaving in a small, intimate group environment. The workshop costs only $100 for the entire ten-session course, and the completed works will go on show in the new exhibition Never-ending Journey which is on at Tren DuBourg Hall in Maryborough. Never-ending Journey brings together the work of two artists: weaver and painter Aunty Marilyne Nicholls and printmaker and painter Nyrel Saunders. The show will feature prints, hangings, sculpture and video alongside historical mining equipment to explore the history and changes that have incured in the Central Goldfields region since the gold rush. Entry to the exhibition is free.
Events in the RCC
Daylesford Sunday Market
If you find yourself in Daylesford for a weekend (as those in Melbourne are prone to be), make sure you check out the town’s weekly Sunday markets. Held by Daylesford’s railway station, the markets have everything from secondhand books to spare car parts. There’s also plenty of fresh local produce available and car parking aplenty.
The relaxed Creswick Market happens on the third Saturday of every month. An easy 20-minute drive from either Ballarat or Daylesford, the Creswick Market has everything from local arts and crafts to handmade delicacies, fresh produce, jewellery and clothes. To keep the littlies entertained there’s kids' entertainment and a playground, and for you there’s live music and more than 90 stalls to peruse. Dogs welcome.
Talbot Farmers' Market
The wee central goldfields town of Talbot hosts its monthly farmers' market on the third Sunday of each month. You might not have heard about much about it, but Talbot was actually one of the first regional towns in Victoria to start running farmers' markets all the way back in 2004. More than a decade on and the market still has its charm. The 80-plus stalls are held in the town’s heritage precinct, and you’ll be able to pick up everything from terrific local produce to artisan bread, cheese, meat and oils. There are also plants, seedlings and fresh flowers as well as live chooks to add to your flock. For the best selection of fresh food arrive early – it sells fast.
Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival
Look, we love fantasy, sci-fi and action movies, but you know what’s even better? Documentaries. In July the arty goldfields town of Castlemaine is putting together a film festival showcasing 13 documentary films from around the world as part of the Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival. The 2018 CDOCFF marks the fourth year of the festival. As well as screening a diverse list of documentaries, the festival will also feature Q and A sessions with directors both live and via Skype. Created by Emmy award-winning director Geoffrey Smith, the festival aims to share stories from across the world with Castlemaine residents. A highlight of the 2018 festival will be the opening night, where guests will be treated to a screening of Gurrumul as well as a panel discussion and live musical performance all hosted by Leila Gurruwiwi of the Marngrook Footy Show. The director of the film, Paul Williams, will be in attendance alongside the film’s manager/producer, composer and other key musicians.
Heathcote Bush Market
Head into Heathcote on the first Saturday of every month for the Heathcote Bush Market. The small township on the Northern Highway (it makes a great pit stop on the way to Bendigo) has a gold mining past but foodie future with an increasing number of producers and viticulturists setting up shop in the region. The monthly market is your chance to sample some of Heathcote’s tastiest products. In addition to edible offerings you’ll also find tools, plants, cosmetics, clothing, jewellery, homewares and bric-a-brac. Held at Barrack Reserve on the town’s main drag, the Heathcote Bush Market is hard to miss – just look for the blue and yellow visitor’s centre sign.
The Target has Disappeared
Join Natasha Anderson and Elizabeth Welsh for an evening of baroque violin twisted experimentally with electronic music, video and text. The Target Has Disappeared is playing for one show only as part of the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music happening from September 7 to 9. Elizabeth "Lizzy" Welsh is a baroque violinist who's played with a number of orchestras both in Australia and overseas. She'll be teaming up with composer and installation artist Natasha Anderson, who has previously exhibited at MONA FOMA, the NGV, NCCA (Darwin), Studio 14 (Paris) and at Vivid Festival. The Target Has Disappeared will combine each artist's passions using baroque violin as a focus and weaving through electronic music and video content.
Maldon Market: Hand Made, Home Grown
Gold isn’t the only treasure you can find in Maldon. On the second Sunday of every month the small ex-goldfields town hosts the Maldon Market, a hub for all things handmade and home grown. Stroll through the market stalls to discover farm fresh produce from the Maldon region as well as goodies from local makers and producers. Each monthly market also features music, entertainment and a sausage sizzle, with money raised going towards local community groups.
Newstead CFA Community Market
On the third Saturday of March, May, September and November, the regional town of Newstead (a 15 minute drive from Castlemaine) hosts a community market to help raise funds for the Country Fire Authority. As well as supporting the men and women protecting us from bushfires, the markets are also a great way to pick up handmade goods from local creatives. At the long-running market you can find books, plants, clothes, tools, craft and produce straight out of the backyard. As with most markets in Australia the highlight will be the barbecue, which in this case will be run by the CFA. Pick up cold drink, a sausage sanga or maybe a homemade cake or slice to go with a coffee. CFA members will also be there on the day to answer any and all fire-related questions. Entry to the markets is free and if you want to host a stall it will only cost you $10. This event is part of the Regional Centre for Culture; a year-long celebration of the four buzzing Victorian centres of Bendigo, Daylesford, Castlemaine and Maryborough. Find out more about all the events happening in the Regional Centre for Culture in 2018.
Mirusia and Paris Underground at Capital Theatre
This May the Capital will host several standout shows including a performance by Australian-Dutch soprano Mirusia. Having spent a decade with André Rieu's orchestra in the Netherlands, the singer has returned to Australia to forge a solo career. The Capital will also be hosting the Paris Underground cabaret where you can catch tap dancers, aerialists, magicians and singers.