Bendigo region - Vegan touring across the city and region of Gastronomy

The Bendigo region in Central Victoria is a food lovers paradise; providing a delicious discovery for vegans.  

The image shows Chef Gina Triolo from Hoo-Gah cafe holding up a delicious looking plate of treats, like hedgehog slice, badabing cookies, cupcakes and muffins.

Bendigo - City and Region of Gastronomy series

Recently recognised for its rich culinary culture with a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation, the Bendigo region is a place abundant with markets, restaurants, vineyards, and growers.

Recently appointed as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, the City of Greater Bendigo and Region in Central Victoria is a food lovers paradise; all tastes and choices are catered for, providing a destination of delicious discovery for vegans.  

Words by Domani Madigan.

The region is packed with bustling markets, acclaimed wineries, exceptional restaurants and award-winning bakeries, with many innovative producers offering everything from once in a decade vintage cider and sustainably grown saffron, to strawberry gum tea and organic prickly pear cordial syrups.  

As wholefood veganism grows in popularity (emphasising fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains and avoiding refined foods), so does the link with benefits like improved heart and kidney function, healthier body weight and lower blood pressure. 

Proof we really do need to eat our veggies. 

But whether you’re a fan of plant-based wholefoods, a ‘flexitarian’ exploring life after animal products or a sweet-tooth looking for a dairy-free fix, Central Victoria has you covered.  

For wholesome lunch goodness, set your sights on Bendigo Wholefoods Kitchen , where an array of colourful salad bowls, nourishing wraps and probiotic slushies await. Head into their neighbouring retail space for an abundance of vegan grocery items.  

Bendigo sourdough bakery,  The Good Loaf offer hearty vegan fare and raw, sugar-free ‘cheesecakes’ plus nearly the entire bread range is vegan (including their award-winning hot cross buns).  

At the much-loved café,  Hoo-Gah , chef Gina Triolo puts thought, passion and years of culinary experience into her ever-changing Buddha Bowls.  

Triolo, who has been cooking flavoursome, food-allergy friendly cuisine throughout her 30 year career, also hosts a pop-up vegan bakery a few weekends each month with plans to make this offer permanent. Look out for her moreish banana bread or decadent raw chocolate peanut slice – they may be sugar and gluten free as well as vegan, but the only thing you’ll notice is how good they taste.   

Take the scenic trip to Maryborough in the Central Goldfields, just 70 kilometres west of Bendigo. As well as natural beauty and historic buildings, you’ll find the iconic Railway Café and Tracks Bar . The welcoming staff are happy to guide you through their vegan options, including zesty salads and towering breakfasts.  

Once you’ve eaten your veggies it’s time for dessert and the first stop is The Mill Castlemaine , a vibrant foodie hub housed in a charismatic former woollen mill.  

With enigmatic names like ‘Cheer up Emo Kid’ and ‘Tropical Fudge Storm’ you’ll be glad the many vegan options at The Mill’s Ice Cream Social are clearly marked. A plant-based cone of their ‘Cookie doh’ ice cream with hot fudge sauce is sure to sway even the most reluctant flexitarian.  

While you’re in the neighbourhood pop next door to  Cabosse and Feve . They offer a range of 15 sophisticated vegan chocolates but, for cuteness alone, you can’t go past the Choc Dog - a thumb-sized Dachshund rendered in glossy, single-origin couverture. 

Keen to take something home? Explore Loddon Valley and the Central Goldfields and you’ll find a number of provedores that source plant-based goodies from across the region. The knowledgeable staff at Bridgewater Farmhouse Kitchen in Loddon will even make vegan hampers on request. 

And no trip to Central Victoria would be complete without a visit to the astounding Heathcote wine region. While wine is often ‘fined’ (cleared) using egg and dairy derivatives, many Heathcote winemakers are championing unfined, unfiltered, natural wines.  

Head to the Heathcote Wine Hub and seek out labels like Armstead, Humis, Tellurian and Silver Spoon – all of which offer a number of vegan-friendly wines. 

Or, back at The Mill Castlemaine, Tim Sproal of Boomtown Winemakers Co-operative is happy to talk people through the intricacies of natural wine and help you find a drop that anybody would be happy to curl up with.  

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