Bendigo is a modest sized city in the state of Victoria, Australia. It is located almost at the geographical centre of the state and about 150 kilometres north west of the state capital, Melbourne. Thanks to a rail line and the Calder Freeway it is only 2hours by train or car from the centre of Melbourne. Bendigo has a population of approximately 100,000 people, making it the 4th largest inland city in Australia. It competes with Ballarat to be the 3rd most populous city in the state. It is the City of Greater Bendigo shire which includes both the urban area and outlying towns covering an area of around 3,000 square kilometres and over 120,000 people.
The discovery of gold in the harsh dirt of Bendigo in the 1850s turned it into one of the most significant boomtowns in Australia. News of the finds multiplied the Australian gold rush drawing an influx of migrants to the area from around the world and within a short time transforming it from a sheep farm region to a major township in the newly proclaimed Colony of Victoria. Once the surface gold had been dug out, large mining companies were formed to extract around the large underground reserve of quartz reef gold. About 780,000 kilograms (25 million troy ounces) of gold have been pulled from Bendigo’s soil, making it the richest producing goldfield in Australia that century and the largest gold mining economy in eastern Australia.
Due to the wealth developed in Bendigo it is well known for its architectural heritage with many gold rush era buildings still remaining around the cities center.
The city gained its name from the Bendigo Creek that ran through the area, and its residents from the earliest days of the goldrush have been known as “Bendigonians”.
Although the town grew in wealth quickly as a result of the discovery of gold, it experienced a reversal of fortune a few decades later. However, it was re-energized in the post-war years as it became an important regional center, and has continued to thrive since. Bendigo is the 2nd largest finance center in Victoria next to Melbourne since it is home to the only Australian regionally based retail bank, the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
As a major regional business centre Bendigo is home to many important regional services. The Bendigo hospital has recently been expanded in size to serve the growing population of the area. Additionally Latrobe university has a large site resulting in students descending on the city from across the country to study.