Take a tour of the region's creative side on this weekend gallery-hop through Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine.

Friday

First stop: Ballarat, just 90 minutes from Melbourne. Warm up your weekend with live music at Karova Lounge or the Eastern, or see who’s treading the boards at historic Her Majesty's Theatre.

Dine on pop-art and dumplings at Fu Man Lou or hatted Thai at Catfish. Tipplers can follow up with craft beer tastings at Hop Temple or local grapes at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar. For a stylish sleep, book in to Lascelles Terrace.

Saturday

Start your art tour proper with exceptional Australian works at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and contemporary colours at Lost Ones Gallery. Don’t leave town without coffee or breakfast at Yellow Espresso or Eclectic Tastes.

Make your way north to Bendigo for an afternoon of brews and tunes on the Blues Tram, rolling through the streets on the first Saturday of the month.

Wander Bendigo's arts precinct, taking in boutique galleries on View Street and street art on Chancery Lane. Discuss your findings over a sun-downer at laneway stop The Dispensary, and when night falls enjoy a show at Ulumbarra Theatre or its cousin the Capital.

Fine art deserves fine food: try culinary excellence at hatted Masons of Bendigo, and tuck yourself in for a night of luxury glamping among the vines at Balgownie Estate Bendigo.

Sunday

Wake refreshed and ready for more art: Bendigo Art Gallery is one of the country's oldest and largest galleries with an impressive roll call of touring blockbuster exhibitions.

Keep your energy up with speciality small-batch brews at Brewhouse Coffee Roasters and brekkie at Percy and Percy before the quick trip south to Castlemaine.

Muse over the specialist collection of traditional and contemporary Australian art at Castlemaine Art Museum, and then use the inspiration to scour for upcycled, vintage and bespoke treasures at creative hub The Mill and sculpture, ceramics and more at Cecode.

Time to go? Top up with coffee and strudel at Das Kaffeehaus or an ale at local brewhouse Shedshaker Brewing before returning to Melbourne.

Got more time?

Take a long weekend, staying for live music at the Bridge or a film at restored art deco Theatre Royal. Feast on pasta at the Royal's Bistro Lola or pub grub at the Bridge.

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