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Until the 1850s, Bendigo was nothing more than a rather empty area of pasture. But that all changed when someone shouted “Eureka!” and held up a nugget of glistening gold.
Like its neighbour Ballarat, Bendigo went from zero to one hundred during the 1850s. It quickly became a bustling metropolis, and Australia’s first truly multicultural city, with waves of pioneers from Europe, Asia and all over the world coming to try their luck in the goldfields.While the gold might be gone, Bendigo is as vibrant as ever, and remains one of Victoria’s rural hubs. Majestic buildings line the streets, incredible cuisine is served up by the descendants of those first migrants, and the history of both gold mining and multiculturalism is explored at a wealth of museums and places of worship.
But is Bendigo a must-see destination for a working holidaymaker? And what exactly might the city offer 417 and 462 visa holders?
Let’s take a look.
Bendigo is located in regional Victoria, situated around 150km north-west of the state capital of Melbourne, and 100km north of its gold mining sister city, Ballarat.
Its proximity to Melbourne means that Bendigo can be done as a weekend trip from the capital, being just a two hour drive (or three hour bus ride) from the CBD. QantasLink, the rural arm of Australia’s national airline, operates direct flights to and from both Sydney and Melbourne, but these are generally rather expensive, being mainly utilised by business travellers.
Gold, gold, and more gold.
While the last of the shiny stuff may have been excavated over a century ago, its influence very much remains. Happily Bendigo has successfully transitioned from a mining town to a tourist hub built around the now extinct industry, featuring a wealth of gold-related attractions that aim to recreate the feeling of those heady years.
But Bendigo is far from a one-trick pony. As mentioned above, for a rural city it’s an unusually diverse place, and is often cited as the birthplace of Australian multiculturalism, with the country’s first Asian immigrants settling in the area during the gold rush years. A number of temples, museums and social clubs pay tribute to this diversity.
Bendigo is also famous for its gardens, its art scene and its pottery, an industry that was established during the gold rush years.
If you’re a 417 or 462 visa holder looking for a job - be it to refill your savings account or to gain a second year visa - Bendigo is a fantastic option. While the tourism and construction industries are strong, three quarters of the land around Bendigo is used for cropping or grazing, making it the perfect place to do your three months of farm work to earn your visa extension! The proximity to Melbourne, Australia’s capital of sport and culture, doesn’t hurt either!
So, is Bendigo worth a visit for a working holidaymaker? It’s fair to say that Bendigo is as diverse, historic and exciting as any rural city in Australia, and in this article we’ve only scratched the surface of what it has to offer.
But in reality, there’s only one way to find out whether Bendigo is worth the trip or not – and that’s to take a look for yourself!