The rise of Bendigo (Issue 24, 2012)


BendigoWatch out Melbourne: Bendigo's liveability is on the way up.

The regional city, only about a one and a half-hour’s drive to Melbourne, is fast catching up with the bigger city’s world liveability status (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2002-2012, London).

In recent reports in Melbourne's The Age newspaper (August 25, November 25, 2012), Bendigo was revealed as a "boom town" once more with students and families flocking to the regional city due to major growth in many industry sectors including housing and infrastructure.

A new major state government department, a new hospital and the new A$88.9 million La Trobe Rural Health School are just some of the big capital investments that have been made in the city in recent years. Add a growing range of swish new bars, cafes and restaurants that can rival any city laneway in Melbourne and you've got a more attractive Bendigo than ever before.

Bendigo has already been through a boom: in the 1850s it was the centre of one of Australia's biggest gold discoveries, which eventually left behind a city centre lined with beautiful heritage buildings and streetscapes.

Today the population of Bendigo is growing faster than the state average of Victoria, at 1.5 per cent. And over the next five years the number of people aged around 24 years is expected to grow by 13 per cent (Victoria in Future 2012, Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development).

Lecturer in planning at the Bendigo campus, Andrew Butt, says this trend is based on the "connectivity" between Melbourne and major regional centres such as Bendigo, which has been happening in other parts of Australia such as Sydney.

‘There has been a shift in understanding our regional cities, that they are part of the city region rather than cities unto themselves,’ Mr Butt says.

‘Populations are moving between cities and on a much longer-term basis.’

He says in the case of Bendigo growth is not dependent on a single component of the economy such as mining, but due to numerous factors such as the improvement of public transport services from Melbourne.

Mr Butt is a lecturer in undergraduate and postgraduate planning programs such as the Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning and the Master of Spatial Planning, Management and Design.