Ah, Bendigo. One of Victoria’s most beautiful country towns, we’re going to tell you about some of the hidden gems of this fabulous city, which (for all the non-Victorians out there) is located less than two hour’s drive from Melbourne. From science, nature and the outdoors to arts and places to just bounce around and have fun, there is heaps to do in Bendigo with kids.
1. Bendigo Botanic Gardens play space
First up is the Botanic Gardens play space (pictured above and below) and its enchanting fairytale theme. You’ll jump inside the pages of the 19th century fairytale book Alice in Wonderland with this exciting play space for kids. Located inside the gardens, it is laid out as a series of garden rooms sheltered by hedges to encourage exploration. There are special child-sized mushroom tables and chairs in the Secret Garden and even a hidden mirror, just like in the magical book. Kids can also be king and queen for the day in an oversized throne chair at the top of a fort.
2. Bendigo Pottery
As soon as your child is old enough to recognise clay as something to play with rather than eat, you’re ready to go to Bendigo Pottery. The minimum age for kids to play on the pottery wheel is six, but little play kits can be picked up on your way in for the really young ones. Everyone will have a ball hand sculpting their very own pottery and there’s plenty of other things to do too. Bendigo Pottery has one of the most significant collections of historic wood fired kilns in the world and its interpretive museum is built around them. There are displays dating back to 1858!
3. Mulligrubs Play Centre
Some parents love them and some hate them but Mulligrubs Play Centre is certainly worth mentioning because it is like no other. Take, for example, the fact that it has a chef! The owners, grandparents to four children, travelled to the US to gather ideas for their business and much of the equipment is the first of its kind in Australia. As you can see in the pics, it looks pretty cool. There are play zones for different ages (up to 12) and you can even buy a take-home meal if you’re out of ideas – or time – for dinner. A 60-seat café offers lunch, breakfast on weekends and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Or just grab a coffee on the mezzanine floor, which looks over the play areas.
4. Central Deborah Gold Mine
Sure to impress, this is the deepest gold mine in Australia and there are activities suitable for all ages, both above and below the surface. You’ll fascinate your primary schooler with an underground experience – all 61 levels! – but the surface is just as awesome because it shows off much of the original buildings and equipment from the gold rush boom of the 1900s. If your child is a busy explorer, this is the place for you.
5. Bendigo Family Nature Club
You’ll have to plan ahead for this one, but it looks a heap of fun. On the third Sunday of every month, Bendigo Family Nature Club holds events with experienced naturalists. You’ll explore Bendigo’s local flora and fauna through fun activities like bike rides, nature walks and much more. Register on the club’s website to receive information about upcoming events, as well as booking details. The Nature Club works with the Bendigo Sustainability Group and The Bendigo Field Naturalists and looks perfect for those interested in trying something a bit different.
6. The Discovery Science and Technology Centre
There’s so much to see and do at the Discovery Science and Technology Centre! For the youngies (three to five), a Curious Kids workshop shows all the fun and excitement of science, with astorybook reading followed by a hands-on activity in the lab. For the primary schoolers, activities include a visit to the planetarium or a slide down the southern hemisphere’s tallest vertical slide! The centre also has a novel Thong-A-Phone which will have kids giggling as it demonstrates how a pair of things can be used to play a tune. Plus, planning is underway for an upgraded Minibeasts Zone for those interested in learning about insects, spiders and bugs. Makes me itchy just thinking about it but, as you can tell, there is something for everyone.
7. Lake Weeroona playground
This is popular with the locals so you just know it’s going to be good. The playground’s location next to the lake means it’s idyllic for a simple family stroll but when the kids want to ramp up the action a bit (literally) it is also jam packed with adventure-style play equipment. Ramps, tunnels, steps and ladders galore surround cute little walkways, chain bridges and scrambling walls. And, because no by-the-lake adventure is complete without an ice cream, it is very handy that Favourite Flavours gourmet food store is located right across the road. It’s famous for its homemade gelato and (surprise, surprise) is very popular with the locals too.
8. Bendigo Corner Store Cafe
While we’re on the topic of food and drink, Bendigo Corner Store Café measures up with the best of the child friendly cafes around. And if you’re a parent to a toddler in particular, you’ll understand the importance of finding one! The café has a backyard play area with a blackboard and sand castle so it’s feet up and relax for the parents. (Not really, but doesn’t that sound nice!). Open for breaky and lunch, this cafe is a winner and the staff are apparently really friendly.
9. Colour Your World Art Studio
I came across this small art studio by accident and I’m very glad I did – because what child doesn’t love getting the painting smock on and covering a canvas (and themselves!) with paint? Megan from Colour Your World runs classes out of her private studio for kids as young as 18 months old (and up to primary school). She encourages her students to explore their imagination and creativity and, most of all, have fun! Megan runs a few classes a week and I’m sure the spots fill quick so get in contact early if you’re interested.
10. Jumpz Trampoline Park
Jumpz is Bendigo’s first trampoline park and because they are so much fun, I had to mention it. (Particularly given it has been so cold here in Victoria!) The great thing is that real little ones don’t miss out because there is a program called mini jumpers – for age five and under. For everyone else, there are organised acitivies like trampoline dodge ball or basketball, or your kids can simply bounce the day away themselves. Either way, they’re going to have a ball. And after they’re done, Jumpz Burgers offers gourmet burgers and other snacks to refuel.
Make sure to take a look at our previous fun things to do with kids travel posts. We’ve been to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Newcastle, Canberra, Perth and Tassie. Where would you like us to go next?