Hey. It’s our last weekend house sitting in Bendigo, VIC and although we’ve seen basically everything, we decided to get touristy and visit what was left. We saw the weird pig-man creature made with real human hair you see posted on the internet with the caption “Has science gone too far?”, and the cathedral as mentioned in this post. The last things to see were a tour tram and their gold mine. We started by booking a tour at the gold mine sometime around noon and train tour at 3.
Since we were there a half of an hour early, we got to start the self guided tour of the area. We obviously started at the most terrifying part we could find, no idea what it’s called though. My dad’s a geologist and I don’t even know mining terms. The stairs were ridiculously steep, each step was as tall as a small toddler. Now all I can think about is a toddler trying to heave its tiny body up the steps.
At the top we found the extreme version of stairs (a ladder). It went up a few more levels, but we weren’t allowed up. There was however a bridge with tracks that lead to the machine which would smash the quartz and sandstone to extract the gold easier. We ran out of time to get across though, and had to get onto our tour. Since the tickets lasted 2 days, we went the next day and found that across the bridge would be spooky steep steps with two owls guarding the path.
It looked a lot more spooky in person.
Our 75 minute tour started with 6 people total and the first thing we were asked was to identify gold from iron pyrite. Montana basically only exists because of gold and I have no idea why but I have too much experience panning for “gold” in creeks as a kid. My childhood was not exciting. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I have ever even seen real gold so that was easy to pick out.
We headed underground and got our trusty hard hats with flashlights attached (don’t really know why but mines dangling from my arm here) and a battery pack you’d think was from 1820. It was as big as my purse and although I usually carry way too much unnecessary items, like a tiny lotion bottle I took from a hotel last December and about 10 pounds worth of coins, it managed to be heavier than it. “That’s must be a strong flashlight!”, you say. Nope. Not at all. Mine was half dead. It felt official though.
We walked around in the dark while the guide talked about rocks, and we stared at rocks. Then saw some more rocks. We were asked to pick gold from fool’s gold again, although this time the real gold was behind a giant glass wall due to a case of some dang hooligans scraping some out of the rock with a pen. Kids. We also saw the old ladies and gent’s room which was a bench with a toilet seat attached and a bucket underneath. In the middle of the tunnel.
I didn’t take any pictures underground, but we got told if we had taken the deluxe tour, we would have gotten a pasty that was half meat pie and half apple pie. Totally would have been worth the $200 price. I do love me some pie, meat or sweet.
The train tour departed from the same building and started a half of an hour afterwards and since parking was only free for 3 hours, we got out and moved to the next parking spot. I was more dead inside than usual from how cold it was in the mine and sat in the sun like a cat until the train came.
Not really sure why there’s only pictures of me, sorry bout that. Anyway the train came and we were the only ones on it. The next day we witnessed a train running with absolutely nobody on it. It was just us and the conductor!
We got our own private tour of the city and the train depot. He let us ring the bell of the train too! I felt like I was on an episode of the bachelor and I got my own over the top personal date, absolutely falling in love again with my bachelor the entire time. It took me back to how much fun we had on a tour train we hopped on in Paris, which although was probably the most boring thing we did, ended up being the most fun we had on top of being so extremely romantic.
The next day we took the Anzac version of the tour and although we weren’t the only only ones on there this time, it still felt just as romantic and exciting.
After the ride we went back to finish viewing the self guided mine tour as mentioned above, and found signs that were sun bleached to high hell. So instead we played with the bells and stared at some tiny statues and tubes that looked like drug paraphernalia.
We then drove to the botanical gardens and found a huge Disney-esque tree which had a couple small holes cut out for tiny kids and a bigger one for the big kids. Once you got inside, it was a different definition of a tree house. It felt like I was inside the bottom of a princess dress. I wanted to fill it with christmas lights, blankets, and pillows, lay back and watch movies in it while sipping cocoa and binge eating marshmallows.
Our last stop was only mentioned in one tourist website, may I mention on page TWO of my Google search. Now that’s underground. It was “the largest Buddhist stupa in the western world”, which I thought was a bit weird to build in the middle of nowhere, but I’m no architect. Google Maps took us 20 minutes out of the city to a long dirt driveway full of paint buckets and stop signs. Everybody has bad days, even Google Maps. I guided us the right way and it felt so incredibly eerie the closer we got. The second we pulled up I wanted to sprout an engine, get aligned and shoot myself into space.
Although it looks totally normal in the picture, it was blocked off by a crooked old gate and there was absolutely nobody there. It felt like the extreme dictator-run towns in Just Cause 2. We saw one person in their car and an empty car parked in the far corner of the parking lot. It might have been a different story in the height of tourist season, but the lack of people and unfinished construction made it feel abandoned. Sometimes you simply cannot capture the feeling in a picture. After I snapped a picture I basically teleported back to the safety of the car and we went home.
Today I attempted “healthy” brownies, made of bananas, pb and cocoa powder but they sucked. Just as much as any other “healthy” unhealthy thing I’ve made: chia pudding, avocado pudding, you name it. So I slathered a gallon of frosting on top and made brownie sandwiches. Much better. Maybe I’ll perfect a “healthy” unhealthy treat one day and I can let you know.
For now I’m eating 10 brownies and wallowing in sadness about leaving this adorable town. It might be the last time we get to live here, especially being from outside of Australia. I don’t mean to get all emo, but once our visas end next April we may never see this beautiful area (or country) that I accidentally wholeheartedly fell in love with. I will look out for any chance I get to come back to Bendigo! Hey, if you happen to live in Bendigo or Oz and need a house sitter, let me know 😉 Next is Wodonga, and after that Geelong. We love you the most though Bendigo ❤
See ya in Wodonga