BONJOUR BENDIGO - My experience as an artist exploring Bendigo

This year for my birthday, I decided to travel somewhere further within Victoria, Australia. Back in March 2024, I travelled to Bendigo the first time for work. It was a live fashion illustration event at Bendigo Art Gallery for the "Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925" Exhibition opening night. I only went for an evening and didn’t have a chance to view the exhibition, so I’d love to go back to visit.


Check out these photos from the exhibition opening night featuring my fashion sketches!



I always enjoy booking hotels, Airbnbs, and flights, but when it comes to planning the itinerary, I'm never the one in charge. When I was trying to decide where to go for my birthday long weekend, I considered Tassie or Bendigo for a few days. Luckily, I stumbled across a 4-days, 3-nights itinerary on the Bendigo Tourist Information Centre website. As I read through it, I thought, “Oh my god! Everything they mentioned are what I love to do! Sorted!”


I followed some of the recommended itinerary and spent 3 days 2 nights in Bendigo with my husband. Along the trip, I sketched some scenes. If you're interested in discovering what Bendigo is really like from the perspective of a live event artist from Melbourne, come along for the journey!





Check-in at Bendigo Ernest Hotel

When I discovered that this hotel showcases original artworks, with each suite feature unique art pieces by different artists, I couldn't resist and decided to stay there for this trip. As an artist myself, this concept excites me. When I browsed through the preview photos of the hotel rooms, Suite 9 caught my eye, featuring Richard Birmingham's work. I'm particularly drawn to vibrant and expressive abstract pieces, and his work speaks to me and I’d love to experience the artwork in person.


I wasn't disappointed at all when I walked into the Ernest Bendigo hotel, which used to be the oldest bank in Bendigo. Instantly, we were drawn to the high ceilings, various artworks along the hallway, and all the interior decorations in the space. We then learned that they are currently renovating part of the hotel/restaurant area. I'm really excited to go back and check it out!


We were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff (by the way, everyone we met in Bendigo was always smiling, very welcoming, and friendly!), and she handed us the key and guided us to Suite 9.


The suite was absolutely stunning! I can't help but admire Richard Birmingham's work over and over again. It brings me so much joy to live with his art in the coming days.



Dinner at Borchelli Ristorante

We headed out for a quick lunch and then returned to the hotel to rest. After that, went to Borchelli Ristorante to have dinner, which was just across the road from the hotel. I absolutely adored how all the local businesses were so united in capturing the theme of 'Paris in Bendigo', the restaurant was decorated with Paris themed flags, stickers, posters etc. We sat outside under the heater, it was warm and cozy. Here is an illustration of what we ate and drank at the restaurant, together with some items I sketched in the hotel room :)





Breakfast at The Boardwalk Bendigo

We went to The Boardwalk Bendigo where we seated outside and had our breakfast to start the day, overlooking the lake. It was a sunny day and food were amazing. It was the perfect moment to unwind, sip on some coffee, and for me, to sketch the scenery bathed in sunlight.



We then had a leisure walk around the lake and spotted plenty of birds.



Bendigo Art Gallery

We drove back and travelled to the highlights of the trip! Visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery


We joined the free tour and started with understanding the history of Bendigo and exploring the stories of some well-known Australian artists who either studied or lived in Paris. Then, we headed to the main area to experience the Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925 Exhibition.


It was incredible to see such a wonderful collection of artwork from artists in Paris! I particularly adore the impressionist style. When you get up close to the paintings, you only see a few "simple" strokes, but when you step back to take in the whole picture, they transform completely. Their skill is truly admirable!


I enjoyed looking at all these paintings featuring different locations and scenes in Paris. They've taken me right back to when I traveled there 10 years ago! I really hope I can go back someday. Wouldn't it be lovely to take a short painting course in Paris?


Dinner at Ms Batterhams

We made reservation to have dinner at Ms Batterhams restaurant. Highly recommended. I had two cocktails and lots of delicious food there, everything was amazing, I had a really good night, enjoyed the meal and the company :)





We spent the last moment in the space and checked out at the hotel. 



Breakfast at El Gordon 

We then went to have breakfast at El Gordon Bendigo, this place is located in a laneway, I absolutely adored everything about it. The baked eggs were divine—just take a look, don't they look yum?


After breakfast, we popped into the clothing store next door. It had a Parisian theme, and the decor was just too cool! Check out this retro TV...



Lunch at Balgownie Estate Winery Bendigo

We walked around in Bendigo CBD and then took a quick 15 mins drive to Balgownie Estate Winery.


Isn't it amazing how everything we wanted to see was so close to the CBD?


We had lunch and enjoyed a delicious white wine at the winery. We had such a lovely time. I sketched a little kid threw all the sticks in front of this huge tree and then ran away. So cute!




Overall, my birthday trip to Bendigo during the long weekend was incredibly enjoyable, and there are still more places we plan to revisit. Bendigo - you are such a stunning, artsy place! I will be back! 





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  • I love hearing more about your adventures!


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