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Bendigo, Victoria

From Academic Kids

Bendigo is a regional city in central Victoria, Australia, located in the City of Greater Bendigo. It has a population of about 100,000 people which places it as the third largest city in Victoria after Melbourne and Geelong. It now exceeds its old regional rival, Ballarat, in size and growth.

The area was originally known as Bendigo's Creek, named for an employee on a local property who was nicknamed "Bendigo" after the famous English prize fighter William "Bendigo" Thompson. The area was settled in 1851, proclaimed a municipality in 1855, a borough in 1863 and a city in 1871. The town was officially known as Sandhurst but the name Bendigo was restored in 1891.

Bendigo grew as a result of gold mining in the mid to late 19th century. Bendigo actually produced much more gold than rival town Ballarat but there were fewer small miners. The mines were deeper and the culture was more corporate than Ballarat. As a legacy of the Gold boom Bendigo has many magnificant ornate buildings built in a late Victorian colonial style, some with a "French" chateau feeling.

After the gold rush Bendigo developed a manufacturing industry. Little of that now remains but there is a large foundry which makes train and vehicle parts and there is also a rubber factory. The ADI or Australian Defence Industries is an important heavy engineering company. Its current status is uncertain, being previously state owned and now going through a process of privatisation. Intervet (formerly Ausvac) is an important biotechnology company, producing vaccines for animals. The major industry in Bendigo is now Health with a Base Hospital, a very large old peoples and Rehabilitation home (The Anne Caudle centre) with about 600 beds. Psychiatric services are notably inadequate. There is a medium security gaol which is projected to close in late 2005. Tourism, based on the old gold industry, is important. Bendigo Senior Secondary College is the largest VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) provider in the State. BRIT (Bendigo Regional Institute of Tertiary and Further Education) and the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University are large and growing educational institutions. Telecommunications provider AAPT has its call-centre based here. Bendigo Bank is Bendigo based (perhaps based on the wealth accumulated in the early 20th century) is now a large "second-tier" bank with branchs throughout Victoria, Tasmania and elsewhere including NSW.

Despite the relative lack of industry Bendigo is growing rapidly, probably partly at the expense of small surrounding rural towns (such as Elmore, Rochester, Inglewood, Dunolly) which are in steep decline. The surrounding area or "gold country" is quite harsh rocky land with scrubby regrowth vegetation. This "box-ironbark forest" is used for timber (mainly sleepers and firewood) and bee keeping. It is proposed to divert it to ecotourism, but there is considerable scepticism about its potential in this respect. Sheep and cattle are grazed in the cleared areas. There are some large poultry and pig farms. Some relatively fertile areas are present along the rivers and creeks, where wheat and other crops such as canola are grown. The area produces premium wines, including shiraz, from a growing viticulture industry. Salinity is problem in many valleys. There is a relatively small eucalyptus oil industry.

Until overtaken in the 1980s by the Western Australia goldfields, Bendigo was the most productive Australian gold area, with a total production of over 20 million ounces (622 t). There is a large amount of gold still in the Bendigo goldfields. The decline in mining was partly due to the depth of mines and the presence of water in the deep mines. With modern technology, Bendigo Mining NL has resumed mining and will likely be a large producer within 10 years.

Bendigo is about 150 km or 2 hours by car from Melbourne with most of the journey being on freeway style roads. The residual dual carriageway roads (currently about 60 km) are slowly but steadily being replaced by freeway. There is a rail service to Melbourne on the Bendigo line with a limited number of services to Melbourne and back. The track is to be "upgraded" as part of the Regional fast Rail project, however some locals have complained that the removal of the double track between Kyneton and Bendigo will cause more delays than currently. The line is slated for a 36 week closure some time in 2005. bendigo also has grown as a large town to include a few known suburbs such as kangaroo flat golden square flora hill kenington california gully eaglehawk huntley kangaroo flat is known for the lansell plaza shopping centre owned by centro properties

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