HERITAGE OF THE PAST
Royal Princess Theatre
of the Royal Princess Theatre, opened 1874. Seating 2000,
its stage facilities were considered comparable to the best
in London’s Drury Lane. More than a dozen touring
companies played seasons at the theatre in the year of 1894.
Demolished in the mid-1960’s.
Over the years from the early old mining days there have been
many on-going developments that make Bendigo the thriving provincial
centre with its current population in excess of 90,000 (Victorian
Government estimate, 2002) for the city and the surrounding City
of Greater Bendigo of 3000 square kilometres. Over the years it
has been the Municipal District of Sandhurst (1855), a Borough
(1863), a City (1871) and in 1994, through amalgamation with three
surrounding municipalities, the City
of Greater Bendigo.
The Bendigo Advertiser first appeared in December 1853 and in
2003 celebrated its sesquicentenary as a local provincial newspaper.
The current Bendigo
Art Gallery was opened in 1890 and is now a leading
Australian provincial gallery. Other activities and institutions,
many of them having their origins and foundations in the earlier
days have continued on to give Bendigo its special and varied
appeal, not only to its residents, but to its many Australian
and international visitors.
Knitting mills, clothing manufacturers, railway workshops, rubber
manufacturers, ordnance production and others have come (and in
some cases, gone) and influenced the active commercial scene of
Bendigo and surrounds. The expansion of retail commerce in the
Bendigo area has seen the opening of larger national retail outlets.
Recent retail developments have been the building of Lansell Plaza
(Kangaroo Flat), Strath Village in Strathdale, closing part of
Hargreaves Street to form Hargreaves Mall and the establishment
of the Market Place shopping centre in the neighborhood of the
railway station. The City of Greater Bendigo ‘Employment
by Industry’ document reports that in 2001 the following
were the three largest categories of employment in the area:
Retail Trade 18.0% of total people employed
Health and Community Services 13.3% of total people employed
Manufacturing 12.7% of people employed
Mining employment in 2001 represented 0.4% of total people employed.
Cultural and recreational activities have been prominent over
the years and continue to draw visitors to the city. In the gold
mining days the Shamrock Hotel boasted the largest music hall
outside London, the Caledonian and Highland Games were conducted
and the Bendigo
Jockey Club was established in 1854 and continues
to this day, featuring the annual ‘Bendigo Cup’. Theatre
has been prominent from the Theatre Royal, (January 1854) through
to today’s arts centre – the Capital
Theatre. Even a Conservatorium of Music was in existence
for some time in the early days. What is now known as Passive
Recreation was acknowledged with the provision of the White Hills
Botanic Gardens (1856), the Camp Reserve becoming Rosalind Park
(1862) and Lake Weeroona being established in 1878 - these recreation
locales being on-going to this day.
Annual events had their foundations laid by the Easter
Fair and Gala Parade starting in 1871 and nowadays,
in addition there is the annual “Swap Meet” for automotive
enthusiasts, the “Heritage
Uncorked” wine and food festival, the Bendigo
International Madison cycling event. Well-established
facilities cater for some of the many conventions now run away
from capital city environments. A Visitors
Information Centre provides information on these
and the many other cultural and recreational activities that remain
prominent in the life of Bendigo and its citizenry.
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