We needed a day out of town after having cancelled our winter holiday. A friend mentioned to me that she was just in Bendigo for the Mary Quant exhibit. “No way!”, I said – I had literally just watched a show called Secrets of the Museum about the V&A preparing for this exhibit just a few days ago. I absolutely loved living near to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s probably my favourite museum of all time and I would pop in frequently when passing by just so that I could spend some time there. The whole building in itself is a beautiful work of art and each room had such thoughtful collections of items organised in a way I had never seen before. It was always very visually pleasing. Anyway, I digress.
It seemed that the universe aligned, me looking for a day out and the exhibit I just watched a whole show about was in Bendigo and set to end over the weekend. My littlest babe is really into retro clothing and sewing. She particularly likes women’s 1950’s – 1960’s style of clothing…we had to go check it out.
Bendigo is about 125km from Melbs and it took us approxiamately 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive there. It’s not a quick outing but if you can spend the entire day out it’s doable and pleasant. Before leaving, I made a quick list of things I would like to see in addition to visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery, including the Great Stupa and a walk around historic Bendigo.
Our first stop was the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Myer’s Flat, Victoria. A 15 minute drive past Bendigo and we were in a tranquil, forested area with a Buddhist temple. Reminiscent of being in a faraway land, I pinched myself a little as a reminder we were actually still in fact in Australia. It was nice to let my mind wander though, pretending to be travelling somewhere in Asia. The temple is the same size and design as the Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet, rising 48 metres high and 50 metres wide. It’s dog friendly (on lead) and free for anyone to come and visit. The centre had two cafes – one indoor and one outside. We had a really lovely lunch outside with our kids and dog and all menu options are vegetarian with gluten free choices.
After lunch, we set off to Bendigo to have a wander around, caffeinate and find a sweet treat for the littles. We stopped at El Gordo Cafe, a place I had read about beforehand with rave coffee recommendations. The cafe lived up to the reviews most definitely. Parents and kids alike were happy with their hot drinks and biscuits. Even the dog was offered a bowl of water whilst we waited to be served. It was a ideal start to our walk around the city.
We started at the Old Post Office built between 1883-1887, it houses a 43 metre high clock tower. Architecturally it really stands out against the other more modern buildings in the area. It and the neighbouring law courts were designed in the second empire (also known as Napoleon III) architectural style. We worked our way up hill into Rosalind Park, locating the Bendigo Art Gallery for our visit to dive deep in Mary Quant.
The exhibit did not disappoint. In addition to learning about the fashion icon herself we were able to see up close and personal all of her fabulous designs over her 50 year career. She challenged women’s fashion from the start and redesigned it to be more youthful and affordable. She is a great female role model for young design students.
Immortalized by fashion iconography as the originator of the miniskirt, London designer Mary Quant had an art-school background and had been designing and manufacturing her own clothes since the late 1950s. She had one distinct advantage over previous designers: She was a contemporary of her clients, rather than of an older generation. Convinced that fashion needed to be affordable to be accessible to the young, she opened her own retail boutique, Bazaar, on the Kings Road in 1955, introducing the “mod” era and the “Chelsea look.”
We had spied a fabulous looking Mexican restaurant, called Mexican Kitchen, downtown earlier in the day and decided to have an early dinner before hitting the road. Not only did they have authentic Mexican menu items (difficult to find in Oz) but they also catered to plant based diners. It was perfect for our tribe of 5. We devoured jackfruit tacos, guacamole and churros before undertaking the drive home. It was a great ending to a fabulous and relaxing day of exploration.