The morning after our small registry wedding in March 2016 (see some photos via Facebook), Mr Luscious and I headed off for a mini honeymoon in beautiful Bendigo, as our proper honeymoon was to come a bit later.
We were seeking a country escape of food, wine and culture. Here’s the low down of what we did and where we stayed…
CULTURE VULTURE: A little history, architecture and gallery visiting
It is an easy 1.5-2hrs drive north west from Melbourne and we love to visit it for some rural charm once or twice a year to see what’s new.
The residents take pride in their grand, historic Victorian-era buildings, cute weatherboard cottages and pretty gardens. The produce is amazing, and the people are lovely.
More recently, the architecture of the area has been taking some risks.
New development includes the modern additions at the Bendigo Library by MGS Architects, and at Bendigo Art Gallery where a more traditional style has been retained at the front on historic View Street, next to the grand columns of the Capital Theatre, and an ultra modern extension has been designed by Fender Katsalidis at the back.
Bendigo Art Gallery
In particular, the Bendigo Art Gallery has been securing my interest by providing my favourite sorts of fashion/photography/popular culture exhibitions for several years now.
These have included Cecil Beaton: Portraits in 2005, Grace Kelly: Style Icon in 2012 and (as of March 2016) the Marilyn Monroe exhibition.
We really enjoyed the Marilyn Monroe collection, which will be on until July 2016. It had a great mixture of photos, film excerpts, costumes and some of her own personal clothes, as well as handwritten letters and other items from her home.
We were particularly shocked by how tiny she was – like seriously tiny. I wouldn’t have believed it if we hadn’t seen some of her outfits, and especially a pair of shoes which looked like a child’s bootie. I guess everyone else at the time was also smaller, which is why we had this idea that she was more amply proportioned. To give you an idea of size, think of the Australian performer Kylie Minogue and then make her a third smaller. Amazing, no?
Here are some Marilyn Monroe photos to inspire you to organise a visit:
Be sure to check out our Luscious photo gallery devoted to Marilyn Monroe too.
Learn more from:
FABULOUS FOODIE: The “Market to Paddock to Plate” food tour of the Bendigo and Heathcote region
Having already booked tickets for the opening of the Marilyn Monroe exhibition and a night at the Art Series Group’s new hotel, The Schaller Studio (see more below), we were delighted to be offered the chance to embark on the delicious Market to Paddock to Plate tour.
Photo from myLusciousLife on Instagram: Some delicious tea and cake
which we enjoyed on the verandah of McIvor Farm. I was in love with all the
tea cups and family heirloom tablecloths!
A new initiative, the tour is hosted by Mason’s of Bendigo‘s Sonia Anthony.
As well as being a fabulous chef (she cooked for us in her own home that night!), she is the passionate President of Food Fossickers, a network of local food and beverage producers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, butchers and bakeries.
Chancery Lane in Bendigo is worth checking out for fab dining options
As we were driven around in a Schaller Studio minivan – equipped with useful cool bags to buy goods and keep them cold, maps, tourism info and a thorough briefing document about the local producers – Sonia provided a personal introduction to the region.
We appreciated hearing a bit about Sonia and her husband-and-fellow-chef Nick’s own culinary story (which has included stints in Melbourne, London and Singapore), and their integration with the Bendigo community.
Mason’s of Bendigo restaurant in Queen Street, Bendigo
One of the things which had struck me when I was googling the area before this trip was how supportive the businesses seemed to be of each other through social media, and this was confirmed ten-fold when I met some of them in person.
Instead of rivalry and potential conflict, there is an enormous desire to help and encourage.
A delicious platter on our fabulous foodie tour from McIvor Farm Foods.
See even more photos from the day via Luscious on Instagram.
MARKET – PADDOCK – PLATE
We started off in the heart of the town at Bendigo Wholefoods but future tours will include the Bendigo Community Farmers Market which operates on the second Saturday of each month, from 9am to 1pm in Sidney Myer Place.
The exterior of Bendigo Wholefoods on Lyttleton Terrace, Bendigo
Bendigo Wholefoods – essentially a grocery store, deli and nursery – was a great introduction to an enormous amount of locally-produced items (we tasted a few samples – yum!), and there is the Wholefoods Kitchen cafe next door to stop and enjoy some of it fully.
MARKET – PADDOCK – PLATE
Next, we headed to B&B Basil, a microgreens producer.
To be honest, I’d never given any thought to microgreens before, other than seeing them on my plate in fancy restaurants, so it was quite a treat to see thousands of tiny plants being grown in multiple greenhouses.
Most of them were actually green (as in microgreens, duh) – think tiny herbs and salad leaves such as watercress, basil and sorrel – but they also grow colourful edible flowers.
The thing that surprised me – which probably shows how ignorant I am as a consumer – was that they produce plants which look like herbs but have the same taste as a vegetable.
For example, you can get celery or carrot but it looks a bit like parsley. An amazing way to capture flavours without the bulk. I felt like I was eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Fabulous!
Then we drove for about 40 minutes to the 300 acre farm of McIvor Farm Foods in Tooborac, south of Heathcote.
The Hagan family have been farming in the area for about 100 years, and regrarian farmers Belinda and Jason Hagan are devoted to raising old breed Berkshire pigs (black pigs with distinctive white markings) in a stress-free and sustainable manner.
The pigs are free from hormones and antibiotics, the land is cultivated and restored using the methods developed by Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, and the pork products are delicious.
Belinda was so inspiring that I thought she should be on the speaking circuit. She also put on a beautiful lunch on the verandah of the old farm house, and I was thrilled to see the tea cups and family heirloom tablecloths.
In the minivan on the way to our next destination, it was fascinating to watch part of the “Polyfaces” documentary about this type of farming, and I encourage you to check out the trailer which gives you a glimpse into this proactive way of living and working. Or watch the whole thing via the official website.
As a girl who prefers not to get too dirty, I was really impressed by this visit and what it taught me about farming. It’s great to see people trying to change the world one day at a time.
The final “touring” section of the trip lead us onto Paul Osicka Wines in Graytown, east of Heathcote where we had delicious wine tastings from four local winemakers:
- Simon Osicka and Alison Phillips from Bull Lane and Osicka Wines
- Emily McNally from Lo Stesso, Occam’s Razor and Jasper Hill
- Liam Anderson from Wild Duck Creek Estate (unfortunately, Liam wasn’t available on the day but we still loved his wines)
- Adam Foster from Foster e Rocco and Syrahmi
MARKET – PADDOCK – PLATE
After all this adventuring, we returned to the Schaller Studio for a break, reconvening an hour or so later to be driven to the home of Nick and Sonia Anthony where Sonia put on an incredible meal for us, paired with wines we’d experienced in the afternoon, with Alison from Bull Lane and Osicka Wines acting as sommelier.
Unfortunately, I was somewhat full and a little weary after our wedding the night before and all our countryside gallivanting, so I didn’t take any decent shots, nor take note of the wonderful dishes she presented. (And how she managed it when she’d been working hard all day educating us about the area!)
This photo of food from Mason’s of Bendigo is similar to the gorgeous dishes presented
by chef Sonia Anthony in her own home. I’ve procured it from Broadsheet’s Bendigo page
to give you an idea of what we ate.
Special thanks to the fabulous Sharon Wells on behalf of Bendigo Tourism for her generosity and enthusiasm, and to everyone who participated in driving us around and talking to use about the Bendigo and Heathcote region.
See some photos from the tour which I posted on Instagram and learn more:
Market to Paddock to Plate tour
We normally like to stay at Pengallie (details below) but they were busy with a previously organised booking. So we were pleased to score a $90 per night deal at the Schaller Studio for the Saturday night.
I like to think of the tiny room we had as “modern bijou” – it was too small for the likes of Mr Luscious and I, but contained everything one could need if you had the time to unpack and store your cases away. It was a bit like being in Tokyo – well thought out and compact.
But when you think about it, Bendigo is best for exploring not hiding in a hotel room. So get out and about, folks!
I was impressed to hear that the rooms were designed using pre-built pods which made the overall construction quicker and more efficient. As an obsessive watcher of design shows, I love this sort of technology.
The public areas of the hotel are full of colour and contemporary design, and we loved it when we walked in from peace and quiet of the car park (where we scored the ultimate George Costanza spot right out the front) to a glorious buzzing of happy punters.
The staff were friendly and keen to help, and we were offered a free coffee in the lounge whilst we waited for the Market To Paddock To Plate tour to start. Nice!
The Schaller Studio (an Art Series hotel)
Where: Corner of Bayne & Lucan Street, Bendigo, within the grounds of the Bendigo Hospital
Why: For a contemporary, hip vibe. And as a package deal with the Market To Paddock To Plate tour.
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Where: 41 Langston Street, Bendigo
Why: A charming fully-contained, self-catering cottage (sleeps up to 5 adults) in a great location on a wide Bendigo street…and steps way from the Bendigo Corner Store where we often go for breakfast when in town.
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