Bendigo, Victoria

Melbourne. I’ve been posting about you, checking in on Facebook. My network is in the loop and our trip has not been a secret. You would have heard of my departure, my return, and the bad weather in between. I checked in at Apollo Bay and at the famous Twelve Apostles, beheld the usual at the zoo. What you didn’t hear though was this town called Bendigo. We visited this growing city on the first full day of our trip. So here it is.

Misfortune

My friend was really keen on visiting Bendigo during our holiday. I initially thought that he wanted to take in the old buildings, but later learned that he was after the area’s gold history. I found out earlier that there was trackwork on the Bendigo line, and that coaches replaced trains. We had an early brekkie at the hotel, before taking the coach with ten minutes to spare. The two-hour trip was twice as long as the train ride, and the toilet on board was bloody bad. There was no light, the tap didn’t work, and neither did the flush. You basically had to manoeuvre in the dark.

We had a pub lunch at The Hotel Shamrock, where D got too much squid. That’s when we decided to do the mine tour. We couldn’t take the tram as we had only 30mins before the tour began. So we walked for about 20 mins. before finally barging in on the mine. The mine was notable for being the second last mine in Bendigo to close down. We were above ground at the start, before taking a noisy industrial lift to the mine below.

Mine tour

Our male guide was mighty informative, covering the timeline from the year gold was discovered to the last mine closing in 2012. He walked us through the material that miners used, from candles, to pick axes, shovels to dynamite. We were each given a helmet with an attached, battery powered light. I wasn’t dressed appropriately though. I wore my new brown chinos, a new tee, and converse sneakers. The only proper item was my blue jacket, since it could get pretty cold in the tunnels below.

‘The international’

We had an international contingent, with two Aussie father and son tandems, a few Japanese tourists, a Danish guy, and a pair of Aussie couples. The little kid was really annoying, he wanted all the attention, and his questions went on and on. I found it hard to believe that little Ollie was just 6 years old. He spoiled the afternoon, but with the mud and water around, it was sure not a five star experience. Although the tour guide was worth his salt, this tour would suit those who want a rugged experience, from being ten floors underground to walking in dim light, from treading a steep walkway three floors up to hearing loud noises from dated machinery below. It was something different, getting out of my comfort zone, doing long walks with my buddy, dealing with trackwork and the earth. There’s something about country towns and old buildings (and gold mines) that you’d be thankful to try when you were young.

To be continued…

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