Driving from Melbourne airport into the city over the years, I always noticed the highway sign pointing to Bendigo and thought one day it would be wonderful to visit this historic town that I had read so much about.
On a recent visit to Melbourne, we were staying at “The Larwill Studio”, located in Parkville and part of the Art Series Hotel Group. The timing was right to take a short break of two days to experience the cultural delights on offer in Bendigo. One of the many benefits this hotel offers guests is their range of “green” compact Smart Cars, available for hire at a very reasonable rate. After selecting our vehicle from those parked at the front of the hotel, we were made aware of all the controls by the hotel’s concierge. We confidently began our two hour drive up the Calder Highway to Bendigo, 152 km away.
As we had enjoyed “The Larwill Studio” so much, we decided to stay at another Art Series Hotel, “The Schaller Studio”, for our two nights in Bendigo.
When we arrived at “The Schaller Studio”, a modern three storey building, located next to Bendigo’s main hospital, we were delighted to see the parking area even displayed some of the hotel’s signature artworks, enormous blue flower pots containing large paint brushes. The hotel’s front entry was the setting for another of Australian artist Mark Schaller’s works, an oversize wooden sculpture of a girl.
After being checked in by a very delightful front office person, we proceeded to our room, which had everything one would expect to find in a 4 star hotel, but was quite different from the normal hotel style. Original Mark Schaller artworks, which were available for purchase, adorned the walls plus there was even a small balcony. A substantial continental breakfast buffet in the hotel foyer was included and during the day, snacks, coffee and cakes were available for purchase.
The staff went out of their way to please, with that true “Aussie country” hospitality. In the hotel’s foyer, there were several comfortable lounge areas where one could sit, have a coffee and just enjoy the multitude of Mark Schaller’s artworks and sculptures.
There is so much to see in historic Bendigo. Walking around this beautiful town, with its wide streets, admiring the many magnificent buildings, which thankfully have been preserved, one can clearly see where much of the money from the famous gold rush era went. The town’s gardens with their floral display and glasshouse, located in the centre of town, are a pleasure to walk through. The Bendigo Art Gallery is a great place to pass an afternoon, admiring their large collection of paintings housed in their state of the art building or to view the special exhibitions that are regularly presented.
This vibrant town offers a range of restaurants and bars that would please the most discerning. Bendigo is well worth a visit.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond