I spent the previous weekend in Bendigo, mainly to attend the exhibition ‘Genius and Ambition: The Royal Academy of Arts, London 1768-1918‘ at the Bendigo Art Gallery. I loved the exhibition and the meals I had at The Dispensary Enoteca and Masons of Bendigo.
Doing research online to find the best places to eat at and stay at in a town you’re not very familiar with can be time consuming but it’s simple enough. You begin to see how subtle hints in online communications reflect the values of business proprietors and how these are manifested in the real world. You learn how to read this so that after some you are rarely completely wrong about a place.
You are never, however, comprehensively informed about a place because half the businesses located there are not online and are thus invisible to you. Once you arrive you realise there are twice as many restaurants as you previously thought. Also, some of the information that is available to you is difficult to digest.
At The Dispensary Enoteca, most of their website is made from PDF files. A pain to read on your phone. Fail. Similarly, at Masons, their menu is a 2.9mb image file hosted on their Dropbox account. Fail. At the cafe / restaurant / wine bar / shop Wine Bank on View, their website says they’re open on Sundays, and we planned to have lunch there after peeking in for a moment on Saturday, but when we arrived on Sunday they were closed. Fail.
Rosalind Park is a lovely place to walk through, and there was a brass band playing in the rotunda on Saturday afternoon (presumably the drunk sleeping in there earlier had been asked to move on).
The place to be on Sunday mornings is Brewhouse Coffee, which was full to bursting as well as a steady line of takeaway customers. The Good Loaf bakery cafe opposite must be mad not to open on Sundays, as it would probably have done well on overflow customers alone. Other cafes around the corner in Bath Lane were also busy, although I didn’t know they existed until I walked past them as they are almost invisible online.
Po Boys and froyo side by side. The mall in Bendigo is not really a happening place on the weekend. Note the bogan misspelling. At least they seem determined to offer every type of sandwich ever invented.
We stayed at the Shamrock hotel. Everyone in there was a generation older and more barrel shaped than us, but it was seemingly the last hotel room available in town that night. It’s a lovely grand old building but it was mysteriously quiet given it was supposedly booked out. In the evening we explored the building. The fancy restaurant on the first floor was deserted, as was the balcony. We hardly saw anyone in the corridors.
We stood on the balcony surveying the view as v8s circled below us like crocodiles waiting for prey to fall to them from above. The front bar / cafe / restaurant on the ground floor, which was all the atmosphere of a train station, was reasonably busy in the evening and again for breakfast. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. The bed was too soft and the room was stuffy and the window opened only a crack and let in warm air from all the air conditioning units mounted on the wall nearby. We had to turn ours on too just to get to sleep.
Our plan to lunch leisurely at Wine Bank on View on Sunday failed due to them being unexpectedly closed, and we were tiring after a long walk, so we decided to catch an earlier train back to Melbourne. We stopped at the Bendigo Original Pie Shop and scoffed down excellent pies and sausage rolls on our way to the train station. Mission accomplished.
Bendigo is a great place to visit for a weekend. If only local businesses realised how many customers they may be losing from their lack of a good online presence.