When I heard that Bendigo Art Gallery in central Victoria was hosting an exhibition of Elvis artefacts from Graceland, it was a no-brainer to find time to go. What made it all the more special was taking Mum - somebody who'd not only introduced me to the swinging sixties movies of The King, but who'd also fostered my love of travelling around our big country.
We began our three-day girlie getaway on Mother’s Day - no better way to celebrate the date than kickstart a mini road trip. It wasn't the first road trip we'd done together either. We once drove from Melbourne, Victoria, two thousand kilometres up the Newell Highway to Gladstone, Queensland, and another two thousand back. In a Holden Camira I might add. With not even a hint of car trouble. We dubbed ourselves Thelma & Louise back then but for this trip it was Double Trouble - of the best kind.
We popped in to the pretty and popular Lake Daylesford for a lunch date. There used to be a very cool bookshop there but it had since been renovated into a larger lovely café.
Afterward, we meandered along rural roads set against the backdrop of green fields and turning Autumn leaves, through the old gold-mining towns of Guildford and Castlemaine, until we arrived in Bendigo late afternoon. If you do this trek by car, don’t be in a hurry because it’s idyllic, undulating, and interesting. The towns are quirky, historical (by Aussie standards) and make for fabulous photo ops.
As we wanted to stay relatively close to the gallery and walk to town, we checked in to the Oval Motel – a refurbished retro motel with a sixties vibe and bright feature walls. Mum is sprightly therefore we didn’t mind the upstairs room, but ask for a downstairs room if health is an issue. The cosy room also came with a choice of free breakfast or drinks from their mini-bar. And the view off the balcony produced some nice sunrises.
If you’ve never been, Bendigo has a stack of things to see and do, including historical tram rides, acres of gardens, major respected galleries, historical museums, goldmines to explore, a ton of boutique shops to get lost in, and wonderful architecture from the goldrush days. We especially loved Chancery Lane and El Gordo's (even spied a weimaraner curled up in a shop window there), the Goldfield's Cycle sports club, the Conservatory Gardens, the Chinese Heritage Garden and the beautiful cathedrals and churches.
Oh, it also has a super-large population of flying foxes which have taken over Rosalind Park in the centre of town. While they reek and screech, they are cute to watch and photograph.
As a true Elvis fan (take a peak at my old-school DVD movie collection) it was an exquisite opportunity for me to get up close and personal with his stage costumes, movie scripts, pay cheques, books he’d read, set lists, and microphones. I was in seventh heaven! If you want to check out “Elvis: Direct from Graceland”, the exhibition is only on until July 17, 2022, so best get your skates on if that's your jam. There's only one week left!
After a few days wandering around Bendigo, sipping on hot choccies, visiting relatives, and eating far too much, we looped back home to Geelong via the quaint and historical townships of Maldon, Newstead, Yandoit, Daylesford (again) and Ballan.
The whole trip was easy to drive, really pretty, not much traffic, and filled with great coffee spots, cute historical homes, vintage finds, a plethora of photo ops and, of course, Elvis. It was also brilliant to have Mum by my side to experience it all. If you’re ever blessed enough to travel with your parents or any “grey nomads” (as Mum calls the wandering retiree society) then I highly recommend this gentle but sensory-filled getaway. Long live Elvis and my mum!