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Follow your (he)art for the weekend at the best galleries, theatres and music venues in Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine.

Friday night: Ballarat

Grab your keys and hit the road to explore Ballarat's live music venues, dining scene and historic theatre. Ballarat is just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne and well and truly rivals its metropolitan neighbour for Friday-night fun. Get into the swing of the weekend with a show at Suttons House of Music, catch touring acts at the Karova Lounge, or join locals for live music at the East. Theatre lovers, see what's on at the historic Her Majesty's Theatre.

Foodies, find hatted Thai at Catfish or get your pop-art and dumpling fix at Fu Man Lou. Tipplers, get crafty at Hop Temple or get to know local grapes at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar.

For a stylish sleep, book in to Lascelles Terrace Boutique Accommodation.

Saturday morning: Ballarat

Wake up and wander the galleries: start with the exceptional collections of Australian art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat and contemporary counterp(art)s at the Lost Ones Gallery.

Need a he(art) starter? Coffee and breakfast is an art form at Yellow Espresso and Eclectic Tastes.

Saturday afternoon: Bendigo

Make your way to Bendigo for a rollicking Saturday afternoon on the Blues Tram, rolling through the streets with local brews and blues on the first Saturday afternoon of every month.

Take a leisurely wander through Bendigo's arts precinct, taking in the boutique galleries on View Street and the street art on Chancery Lane.

For a sun-downer, make a laneway stop at Dispensary Bar & Diner.

Saturday night: Bendigo

As night falls, take in a show at new-kid-on-the-arts-block Ulumbarra Theatre or its seasoned cousin the Capital.

Treat yourself to local culinary excellence at hatted Masons of Bendigo and perfect the art of a long slumber in the Schaller Studio Art Series Hotel.

Sunday morning: Bendigo

Spend the morning wandering to your art's content at the Bendigo Art Gallery, one of the country's oldest and largest galleries with an impressive roll call of touring blockbuster exhibitions.

Fuel up with specialty small-batch brews from Brewhouse Coffee Roasters and brekky at Percy and Percy before making your way to Castlemaine.

Sunday afternoon: Castlemaine

Meander home via Castlemaine's gallery and markets, fuelling your creative pursuits with local brews and menus.

Wander the landscapes at Castlemaine Art Museum, home to a specialist collection of traditional and contemporary Australian art. Venture to creative hub The Mill for seemingly endless stalls of upcycled, vintage and bespoke local treasures, from clothing and coffee to furniture and beer.

For further, sustainable sustenance, stop at The Local before wandering back to Melbourne.

Optional extras: Castlemaine

Take the long play option and spend the evening in town. Catch a gig at live music pub The Bridge Hotel or at the beautifully restored art deco Theatre Royal, host to films and touring acts.

For dinner, make popcorn your main at the Royal, feast on good-quality pub grub at The Bridge Hotel or indulge in high-end Provincial fare at Public Inn, hatted by The Age Good Food Guide.

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Ballarat

Goldfields Arts Itinerary

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Live music

Karova Lounge

Karova Lounge is a well renown live music venue for local and international acts, bringing touring acts to the Ballarat area for over 10 years....

Bars

Mitchell Harris Wine Bar

Mitchell Harris Wine Bar has been making wine since 2008, with a focus on elegance and reflecting the cool-climate characters of nearby regions....

Performing arts

Her Majesty's Theatre Ballarat

Soak up old-world elegance in this beautifully renovated grand 1875 theatre, with top-notch drama, dance and music performances throughout the year.

Bars

Hop Temple

Hop Temple is enthusiastic about good beer, wine and food. A family orientated environment for everybody to enjoy. Hop prides itself on providing a...

Cafes

Yellow Espresso

Get your Axil coffee and all-day breakfast staples – pancakes, BLTs, eggs all ways and avo smash – at this popular, bright and airy Sturt Street cafe.

Cafes

Eclectic Tastes Cafe & Pantry

Eclectic Tastes Café and Pantry in the famous Goldfields town of Ballarat is a relatively new edition to the growing food scene in this regional...

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Bendigo

Goldfields Arts Itinerary

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Performing arts

Ulumbarra Theatre

Catch big-name performers and cultural events in an extraordinary arts and community complex encircled by the walls of the old Sandhurst Gaol.

Cafes

Percy and Percy

When one Percy just isn't enough, savour classic breakfasts, seasonal lunches, coffee, sweets and treats at this Bendigo corner-store turned cafe.

Cafes

Brewhouse Coffee Roasters

Watch coffee roasters at work as you linger over your specialty brew, all-day breakfast classics and lunchtime sandwiches and pizzas. Fully licensed.

Performing arts

Capital Venues and Events

Bendigo is the home of three of the most captivating and unique theatres. Take Centre Stage in Bendigo at Ulumbarra Theatre, The Capital and the...

Art galleries

Bendigo Art Gallery

Stop by the Bendigo Art Gallery and see works by contemporary Australian artists including Patricia Piccinini, Tracey Moffatt and Bill Henson.

Hotels

The Schaller Studio

Drawing from the art and cultural overtones of Bendigo, The Schaller Studio is inspired by Mark Schaller's working studio. With large edgy communal...

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Castlemaine

Goldfields Arts Itinerary

Cinemas

Theatre Royal

Choose from arthouse and blockbuster movies or catch local and international touring gigs at Australia's oldest continually operating theatre.

Art galleries

Castlemaine Art Museum

Founded in 1913, Castlemaine Art Museum specialises in Australian art. The Gallery's remarkable permanent collection a strong emphasis on traditional...

Pubs

The Bridge Hotel

Stop for a pint at this once-dreary country pub, now boasting a wide range of craft beers, lush green gardens, and friendly atmosphere to match.

Restaurants

Public INN

Join the inn crowd for high-end Provincial fare paired with local small-batch wines and craft beers at one of Castlemaine's oldest public houses.

Cafes

The Local

Stop in for a seasonal lunch at The Local, the latest venture from social enterprise Growing Abundance, and start 'eating and growing local'.

Markets

The Mill Castlemaine

Hailed as a vibrant and exciting tourist destination, The Mill Castlemaine is a creative hub for foodies, artisans and purveyors of collectables and...

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Destinations

Goldfields Arts Itinerary

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