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
Town Hall Crawl
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sing then here’s your chance: the Regional Centre for Culture is hosting nine free singing workshops in regional town hall. Across three Saturdays in June you can learn to sing from professionals and then test your newly tuned pipes with a public group performance on Saturday June 30 at Maryborough Town Hall. Ten town halls in total will be used to host the singing lessons, spanning Dunolly to Bullarto. If you've got aspirations of being the next Pavarotti you can attend all nine classes but you’re also welcome to just attend one. Lead by singing coaches Tara Flinn, Merrin Torpy and Jane Thompson, participants will learn how to sing contemporary a cappella, country and vocal technique. 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.
Events in the RCC
Deborah Halpern in Dunolly exhibition
The town of Dunolly will be introduced to top Australian artist Deborah Halpern in her exhibition at Dunolly Courthouse. Halpern's practice focuses on sculpture and works with paper, fabric, fused glass and ceramics to create large works that capture Australia's larrikin spirit. For years her sculpture 'Angel' lived outside the National Gallery of Victoria (it's since been relocated to Birrarung Marr), while her work 'Ophelia' welcomes visitors to Southgate. After the exhibition Halpern will also be working with local artists and the Dunolly community to create a large public sculpture.
Tiny Towns Arts Trail
From March 31 to the end of April ten tiny towns in the Central Goldfields region of Victoria will be highlighting their most creative citizens and venues. The Tiny Towns Arts Trail allows locals and tourists alike to explore art through workshops, exhibitions and even a fashion show. The ten participating towns include Dunolly, Maryborough, Newstead, Clunes, Talbot, Eddington, Avoca, Adeliade Lead, Tarnagulla and Bealiba. A total of 40 different artists will participating in the arts trail such as top sculptor Deborah Halpern (whose work has been featured outside the NGV and at Southgate) and stylist Bianca Flint. You can get hands on during the Tiny Towns Arts Trail with a mosaic workshop or sit back and enjoy a sustainable fashion show. Creative kids have the chance to make a kooky wire insect sculpture or you can capture the beauty of your pooch with a dog portrait painting workshops. For the full line-up of events visit the Tiny Towns Arts Trail Facebook page.
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.
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.
April at the Capital
The Capital cuts a grand shadow across Bendigo. Built in 1873, the building was originally used as a Masonic Hall, although these days it's theatre lovers who enter through its towering Corinthian columns. This April the Capital will host several standout shows including performances as part of the Sanguine Estate Music Festival and a concert by classical guitarists the Grigoryan Brothers.
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.
Built in an old fire station, the Engine Room is one of Bendigo's most diverse performance spaces. The buildings has two spaces: a bright upstairs dance studio filled with mirrors and a ground floor black box space with full sound and lighting facilities. During summer the Engine Room also has a outdoor courtyard. During April the Engine Room will host Hello Beautiful!, a comedic one-woman show based on the memoirs of playwright Hannie Rayson.