Selected Guide to Open House Bendigo

Posted Fri 14th Oct 2022 | Isabella Radevski

The 2022 Open House Bendigo Weekend shines a light on spaces of architectural excellence and ‘opens up’ for the public more than 20 buildings, spaces, talks and programs across the city.

The program aims to create a sense of civic pride in the changing urban environment of Greater Bendigo—with access to multiple historic sites and a diverse range of modern buildings, catering for heritage and contemporary design lovers alike.

This year, Open House is pleased to be working collaboratively with key program partners including the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, the Greater City of Bendigo and the La Trobe Art Institute—the latter of which will host a ‘mini-marathon’ talk series titled ‘Culture of Place: Bendigo and the Big Build’ which explores the contribution and impact of the city’s new large-scale civic buildings.

This ‘selected guide’ collated by the Open House team provides a potential rhythm and flow to consider for your experience of the Open House Bendigo Weekend. Yet there are many other programs and events on offer beyond those listed here so please make sure you visit the full Open House Bendigo program website to book and plan your Weekend!

—Fleur Watson, Executive Director & Chief Curator, Open House Melbourne  

Saturday 22 October

10am or 1pm

Re-imagining the Bendigo Creek

Walk on Country, Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony

Currently booked out

Start your Open House Bendigo Weekend with an immersive learning experience and listen deeply to Indigenous knowledges of place with a guided Walk on Country, Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony led by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Aunty Marilyne Nicholls.

This walk will focus on ‘Wanyarram Dhelk’—which means good waterhole in Dja Dja Wurrung language— which aims to improve the water health of Bendigo Creek and its tributaries. The Reimagining Bendigo Creek plan is a collaborative project between the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and City of Greater Bendigo. It marks the beginning of a process of renewal, understanding and connection over many generations, which aims to create a healthier, more inclusive, connected and beautiful Creek that we all respect and value.

10am, 11.30am and 1pm

Bendigo Garden for the Future

Free, bookings required

Missed out on the limited spaces available for Reimagining the Bendigo Creek Then be quick to book for one of the guided tours of the Bendigo Botanic Gardens’ most recent and inspirational project – Garden for the Future.

The Garden for the Future boasts over 30,000 climate-resilient plants from more than 500 individual Australian and Exotic species. You’ll hear from the designers how the changing climate informed the design response – the plants chosen need to withstand severe frost, weeks of temperatures over 40C, and extensive dry periods. The role of Garden for the Future is to test, prove and inspire a broad range of plants – both native and exotic – that will tolerate these extreme climate variables. Not to be missed!


10am or 12pm

Bendigo Gallery – Draw a Futuristic Gallery

Bookings required, $5 commitment fee

Encourage tomorrow’s emerging design talent by bringing the kids to this interactive drawing workshop. This interactive program focuses on ‘the gallery of the future’ as part of Bendigo Art Gallery’s drawing festival celebrating the universal language of drawing as a tool for learning, expression, and invention.

After the kids have expressed their inner designer then parents and guardians can also take a self-guided architectural tour of the Gallery’s spaces including the contemporary extension to the heritage building designed by architects Fender Katsalidis in 2014.


1.30pm – 3.30pm

Culture of Place: Bendigo and the Big Build

Bookings required, $5 commitment fee or free for students + concession

After a quick bite of lunch and a coffee, make your way to the La Trobe Art Institute for an immersive ‘mini-marathon’ of presentations and conversation. You will learn from Indigenous artists and designers about the collaborative process of working with non-Indigenous architects to co-design the ‘Big Build’ projects that are shaping the future of central Bendigo.

The session titled ‘Designing with Culture & Country’ explores the contribution and impact of these new large-scale civic buildings – Bendigo Tafe, Law Courts and Galkangu Gov Hub. Following the ‘mini-marathon’ talks you can also do a self-guided tour of the projects – all within an easy stroll. While most of the buildings are not open for visitors just yet, they are all easily viewable from the street and we encourage you to walk the circuit and see how they are already shaping the city.


4.00pm – 5.00pm

Modern Melbourne

Screening + conversation

Bookings required ($14)

Post-mini-marathon at the LAI, make the dash across town to Sovereign Hill to the beautiful heritage spaces of the Star Cinema for a premiere regional screening of OHM’s latest episode of Modern Melbourne – a documentary series documenting our most significant architects and designers.

This screening features Peter Elliott, AM one of our most celebrated architects and winner of the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal (2017) and the screening is followed by a conversation with Peter himself and chaired by Heritage Council of Victoria’s Chair Professor Phillip Goad with OHM’s Fleur Watson and Stuart Harrison. Don’t miss this very special opportunity to be immersed in Peter Elliott’s continued exploration of architecture as a form of ‘urban acupuncture’ – a dexterous, responsive and topographic approach to the relationship between architecture and the city.

As an added bonus visit the rarely open spaces of The Chambers – Star Cinema’s wine bar – situated in the former Eaglehawk Council Chambers for a post-screening drink before enjoying a meal in one of Bendigo’s many great local restaurants.


Sunday 23 October

11am – 12.15pm

Making Home: Social & Affordable Housing in regional Victoria

Free, bookings required

After picking up a coffee, kickstart your OHB Sunday morning with this thought-provoking talk curated and moderated by architect and housing advocate Tania Davidge at Bendigo’s Engine Room. The talk will focus on an exploration of the issues that are shaping supply and access to social and affordable housing in regional Victoria.

Hear from architect Clare Cousins and Toby Dean, head of community at Nightingale in conversation with local crisis housing provider Haven; Home, Safe who will speak to the challenges of bridging the housing divide to create more inclusive and caring communities for everyone.


1.00pm – 2.00pm

The Lost City of Melbourne

Film screening

Bookings required

A chance to return to Star Cinema in Eaglehawk for a special lunch-time screening Gus Berger’s The Lost City of Melbourne (2022), a documentary of Melbourne’s rich architectural and social past. The film explores the attempted ‘modernisation’ of Melbourne in the 1950s that destroyed much of the city, including many cinemas and picture palaces.

This film was a big hit at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival so don’t miss the chance to see it in Bendigo!



Guided Tour of the ‘Beehive’ Building

Tours depart at 11.30am + 1.30pm

Bookings required, $5 commitment fee

Time for a short break for a bite of lunch before taking the easy walk from the Engine Room to the locally-known ‘Beehive’ building – the former Bendigo Mining Exchange. This beautifully restored building is currently closed to the public as it goes through a transition in ownership so these guided tours provide a rare chance to see it in its pure architectural glory.

Originally designed by architect Charles Webb in 1872, its interior shares similar qualities to Melbourne’s Royal Arcade by the same architect and was sensitively restored by Williams Boag Architects and won the national heritage award in 2021.

If you miss out on these limited tours or can’t make Sunday then you can also experience the building virtually here.


10am–4pm (various times)

Ulumbarra Theatre

Free, bookings required

The Open House Bendigo weekend is drawing to a close but there’s still time to soak up some more architectural treasures with an ‘open access’ visit to the historic Ulumbarra Theatre. Meaning ‘gather together’ or ‘meeting place’ in the language of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, Ulumbarra blends heritage and modern elements beautifully, offering distinctive state-of-the-art performance and event spaces.

The renovation by Melbourne architects Y2 and international theatre design specialists Schuler Shook merges contemporary design with the heritage elements of the old penitentiary architecture. You can also experience CELL 26, which tells the story of a former prison cell on the Ulumbarra Theatre site. Using the cell as inspiration, documentary artist Roslyn Oades and local musician Eliza Hull have created an intimate 30-minute listening experience that explores the layers of story embedded in the site.



Getting to Bendigo

Read on for some handy travel advice for your trip to Bendigo. We’ve also included a succinct collection of reading and listening material for your trip!

In the true spirit of all things ‘Open House’, we recommend minimising your carbon footprint by leaving the car behind and taking the train or ridesharing to Bendigo.

Most of the events are located conveniently within walking distance. For those slightly further afield such as Star Cinema in Eaglehawk, transport options include taxi, Uber and public transport

Visit the V/Line website to plan your trip.

From the centrally located Bendigo train station, it’s an easy 15-minute walk to the Bendigo Visitors Centre or just under a 20-minute walk to the Latrobe Art Institute – both sites are visitor ‘hubs’ for the OHB Weekend.

If you’re a visitor to Bendigo you’ll find the Visitor Information Centre conveniently located right in the centre of town.

For information about car rental, ride share and public transport visit here.  For more information about parking in Bendigo visit here.


Getting to Bendigo – A Reading and Listening Guide

A selection of Bendigo-centric content to accompany your travels to and from the region:


  1. The Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation website (Djaara) is a rich resource for learning about Indigenous knowledges of place and connection to Country (text, video and audio): Dja Dja Wurrung website

2. Road trip guide to the region

3. For the kids: Fiction by Bendigo-based author Lorraine Marwood

4. Keep an eye out for literary events as part of the upcoming Bendigo Writer’s Festival in 2023


5. Episode 13 of this podcast brings you highlights from the Conflux Festival in Bendigo

6. This episode of Architecture Series features John Wardle, Meaghan Dwyer and James Loder of John Wardle Architects – architects of the Bendigo Law Courts


7.  Visit Bendigo Region’s website for an Art Enthusiast’s Guide to Bendigo

For the full program visit:
Open House Bendigo is proudly presented in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo.

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