Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive
Bendigo to Echuca-Moama
92 km/57 miles, about 1.25 hours
Bendigo, one hour south of Echuca, outstripped Melbourne in size when gold was first discovered there in the mid-1800s. See the legacy of that period's influx of tens of thousands of Chinese gold diggers at the Golden Dragon Museum (home to the world's longest dragon), the Joss House temple, classic Chinese gardens and the Chinese section of the White Hills Cemetery.
Bendigo's early wealth is evident in its beautiful Victorian-era sandstone buildings, century-old gardens and established trees. The grand historic hotels provide sumptuous accommodation, and sidewalk cafes, art galleries and fine food, wine and antique stores line the streets. The Bendigo Regional Gallery, a former riflemen’s orderly room, features an excellent collection of international and Australian work by artists including Sir Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Arthur Boyd.
Take a 60-metre elevator trip beneath the heart of Bendigo to experience the operating Central Deborah Gold Mine on a one-hour tour that follows a 400-metre underground circuit. Then catch the Bendigo Heritage Tram from the front door of the mine for a travelling commentary of Bendigo’s major sights.
Bendigo Pottery, Australia's oldest working pottery, has a sales gallery, interpretive museum, heritage-listed kilns, wheel throwing lessons, demonstrations and a Clay Play area for kids. Head to the nearby Bendigo and Heathcote wine regions, famous for their fine shiraz.