Stay close, go further
For a creative recharge, head to the Goldfields this autumn. Fill your palette with vivid yellows, reds and browns; retrace the steps of artists and miners; and indulge in the region's incredible food and wine. Here are our tips for a culture-filled autumn road trip in the Goldfields.
1. Art galleries
Immerse yourself in art at Bendigo Art Gallery, one of the oldest and largest regional galleries in Australia. Gaze in awe at the Australian art and marvel at important 19th century British and European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.
From March until July 2021 at Bendigo Art Gallery you can see Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary, a retrospective exhibition on the iconic British fashion designer Dame Mary Quant.
2. Seasonal dining
Enjoy some country hospitality and the pick of autumn's bounty at some of Bendigo's best restaurants.
Be nurtured at Alium Dining, where the focus is on the goodness of food and the love of people and community. Follow your nose to The Woodhouse, where you can enjoy some of Central Victoria’s best local produce straight from Bendigo’s only red gum chargrill. Venture down into the basement of an old school hall for refined wines, clever cocktails and classy European-inspired bites at Ms Batterhams.
3. Wine country
Sip, savour and explore your way across Heathcote's renowned wine region, famed for world-class shiraz but full of other surprises. Drive the Heathcote Women in Wine Cellar Door Trail; four family-owned and operated wineries showcasing a diverse range of award-winning wines from women producers. After your tastings, grab a slice of pizza and shoot some pool (with a local wine or craft beer, of course) at The Shiraz Republic's cellar door.
Duck across to the nearby Pyrenees wine region for savoury, spicy reds and a game of petanque or two while overlooking sweeping autumnal vistas Visit Avoca's renowned Pyrenees Unearthed Wine and Food Festival on Saturday 17th April.
4. Natural beauty
The Goldfields lives up to its name in autumn, when the leaves give the region an earthy glow. Wander the Ballarat Botanic Gardens and take in the inspiring Tuberous Begonia Display in the conservatory, which coincides with the Ballarat Begonia Festival from Saturday 6th to Sunday 28th March.
Take some time to relax and get to know Bendigo in Rosalind Park, right in the centre of town. From the park you can see historic trees, buildings, structures and landscapes that sum up Bendigo's character and history. Look out for local horticulturalists planting tulip bulbs to bloom in spring.
You're never short of amazing things to see in Heathcote. Explore the Valley of Liquid Ambers, a small but dazzling collection of trees all boasting beautiful autumn colours. Crunch through the leaves until you find the perfect place to stop and picnic among the trees. Stop in at the nearby Heathcote Pink Cliffs Reserve to see the dramatic, colourful cliffs revealed by hydraulic sluicing in the late 1800s.
5. Prospecting history
Retrace the steps of miners and prospectors and learn about this region's gold-tinged history. Descend underground at Heathcote's Central Deborah Gold Mine, where you can explore a real mine that pulled up 929 kilograms of the good stuff during the gold rush boom.
Follow the O'Keefe Rail Trail, an historic journey from Bendigo to Heathcote which dates back to the gold rush. Make your way through native bushland and dry forest crossing over bubbling creeks along the way. Ride or walk among gums and box trees, tea trees and wattles.
Finish your Goldfields road trip on a high note with a stop in at Tooboorac on the way home.
Visit McIvor Estate for home-style wood-fired pizzas and cracking shiraz. Call into Tooborac brewery for an elevated version of the obligatory pie stop, and grab a mixed 6-pack for the fridge at home.
Indulge in luxury self-contained accommodation in a magnificent 1901 building moments from the city at Ballarat Premier Apartments. Leave the carbon footprint behind at Mt Ida Eco Cabin, made almost entirely from recycled materials without sacrificing comfort.
Stay steps from the action in vibrant, boutique-style digs at Mercure Bendigo Schaller; or escape to the country at the sprawling Mimosa Glen Homestead, a secluded country retreat oozing with rustic charm.
And sleep amongst the vineyards at The Cellars at Heathcote II, a unique getaway experience centered around landscape and wine.
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