The best place to start in any new place is the Visitor Information Centre. It's a bonus that the Bendigo Visitor Centre is a former post office and grand historic attraction in its own right. It also houses the Post Office Gallery social history museum, and the Living Arts Space, which showcases emerging local artists. You might be longer than you think here.
Take a moment to get your Bendigo bearings from beautiful Rosalind Park. The reward for ascending the mine tower (Poppet Head) is stunning views of Bendigo and surrounds.
For lunch, stop by corner-store-turned-cafe, Percy & Percy, or grab the best chicken burger of your life at Flight Bar & Bottleshop. These guys make some cracking hot sauce, too.
Fortified, you're ready to explore Bendigo Gallery, Australia's largest regional art gallery. See a touring international exhibition, or familiarise yourself with the contemporary names in the permanent collection. Finish your fix of fine art with a wander through the View Street Art Precinc, with its galleries, theatres, bars, eateries and boutiques.
Prepare for a night out Bendigo-style with dinner at the vast The Woodhouse restaurant. Then it's on to the new Ulumbarra Theatre to catch a performance in the 1860s Sandhurst Gaol building. Or you can devote your night to the blues, catching a gig at The Handle Bar, Rifle Brigade Hotel, Hotel Shamrock, Gold Mines Hotel or the Old Church on the Hill.
After such an artistic day, it's fitting that you should rest your head amid the original artworks, large-scale sculptures and mosaics at Mercure Schaller Hotel, inspired by Mark Schaller's working studio.