In which I explore Heathcote and the surrounding areas on a lazy Saturday afternoon with a friend, for the Bendigo Magazine Spring edition. Spoiler alert...there's good wine, gorgeous scenery, and dinner by a crackling fire...not to mention a Great Expectations-esque building I found....
I'm sure there's also got to be some kind've local legend for this area...a giant black cat that keeps stealthily to the undergrowth? A Miss Havisham type figure that appears in the turret of the Government Surveyor's office (pictured further down) ?
"There’s something about Heathcote and the landscape that surrounds…the rocky outcrops and the gullies resting deep in the shade…my mind wanders to mysteries like Picnic at Hanging Rock and the like. It intrigues me. For that reason I decided what better way to while away a sunny afternoon with a friend than just driving for the sake of it…taking random turn-offs down dirt roads on our way. It didn’t hurt that there was a winery visit on the cards, followed by dinner at the Willow Room. We just felt like a wander, and wander we did..."
"A stones throw from Bendigo or about an hour from Melbourne will find you in the centre of a streetscape with many an architectural nod to Heathcote’s history in the Gold Rush era. I’m already picturing it as it used to be…tents pitched along the river…the population swelling to 35,000 and the township accommodating up 22 hotels and, as legend has it, a bacon factory! I love that there are little plaques explaining the significance of various buildings…it suits a curious mind. I’ve since used the official website and information centre to brush up on my local history in the hope of finding a mystery to rival Hanging Rock but nothing uncovered as yet. Maybe I need to drop into the pub and find a local with a yarn of yesteryear to tell. In the meantime, I’m loving the beautifully old Government Surveyors Office with it’s peeling paint & gentle lean…and wonder if Miss Havisham might be precariously perched behind the window on the upper level watching us walking by..."
You can read more in the current issue of the Bendigo Magazine, or the rest of the article here.
We wandered through Merindoc Winery, and ate at The Willow Room...which I just read has closed...oh no! Never fear, there's so much good wine and food in this area, and the tourism website is the perfect starting point to plan your trip :)