RoadTrip2021: Bendigo, Rochester and Echuca

May 26, 2021 | 16 Comments


I had three nights at Echuca and rather than spending the first full day exploring the town, I went on a day trip to Bendigo instead! It was only a little over an hour’s drive south of Echuca.

I was really keen to visit Bendigo so that I could compare a Victorian gold rush town with those in New South Wales… and wow! What a contrast! There was a lot more gold in Victoria and this is seen in the grandeur of the buildings that were built.

BTW, a few years ago I had a brief visit to Ballarat (another gold rush town) so it was fun to see how the two differ.


So many over the top grand buildings. It made me feel as if I were in Melbourne (the grey skies and the tram tracks in the middle of the road added to this feeling!)


Getting coffee in a cool cafe with an associated laneway also had a Melbourne vibe.


After visiting the visitor centre and getting my coffee, the first place I visited was the Central Deborah Gold Mine not far from the centre of town. I didn’t go inside (next time!) but I did sketch it from the outside. I later found that it was modern – opened in 1939 – so wasn’t part of the big gold boom in the 1850s.


After an early lunch I returned to the main part of Bendigo and wandered around to get a feel for the place and work out what I wanted to sketch. One of the main streets is called Pall Mall and the street at an angle here is Charing Cross. A few London references!


The other street containing lots of interesting buildings was View St. Lots of the buildings were sketchable but none took my fancy.


I ended up sitting down on a bench and sketching a fun view of a classical building and the adjacent Bendigo Art Gallery. And once again I didn’t go inside!

I know some of you might be shocked but I was in such a strong mood to be outside sketching that museum/gallery visits were not what I wanted to do at the time.


Another grand building… must be time to sketch one of them…


The Old Post Office was my pick – ah! that was a lot of fun!


Here is the final spread with sky and text block and showing the context of Pall Mall and the Shamrock Hotel.


I then walked to the Town Hall which is definitely a nice building, but without any interesting surroundings, it did not inspire me!

Bendigo is a very nice town, but it felt too much like a big city to me and I just wanted to get back to a small country town. I had driven through an interesting one in the morning, so I left Bendigo a few hours early. Another old verandah-ed building sketch was calling me!



So this is what I had passed in the morning… ah! this is more like it. (Just for the record I normally like really busy cities but this trip I’ve become somewhat of a country girl!)


It was getting late in the afternoon and there were a few things to sketch in Rochester. So I tried to get as much done of the 10-bayed Shamrock hotel as I could. This photo was taken at 25 minute mark when I decided to stop. I had all the information I needed on the page so that it would be easy to finish later -all the structure, the different details to the parapet, the window positions (well most of them) and the details for one bay.

I had a number of fun chats to locals while doing this. One man said “You’ll need to find someone to hold a torch for you!”


Here is the final version (I’m leaving it uncoloured) which I finished off that night.


Just behind me there were some silos and these had two beautiful murals painted on them. Silo Art is a new thing here and it is definitely bringing tourists to some small country towns, so I’m all for that.

However as a sketcher I prefer them plain… so when I sketched this I left the murals off – shocking I know!


I then crossed the road to sketch my third Rochester subject… and realised that this was a better (but harder) view of the Shamrock!


What I wanted to sketch was a closed down factory… but once again, I was running out of time so I only did a loose and crazy ink and watercolour sketch.



That evening I had a great curry back in Echuca. I was working on my pages while waiting for my food and so the waitress asked me to sketch my meal.


There was a fancy light show happening in Echuca while I was there but as I didn’t buy tickets this was all I saw of it!


The next morning it was finally time to explore Echuca! It has a lovely historic street (Murray Esplanade) and wharf  – remnants from the days when Echuca was an important river port.


To access the wharf I walked through a discovery centre (free) and rather enjoyed seeing these old river maps!


Approaching the wharf. The thing to do in Echuca is to go on a paddle steamer cruise. I did this last time so this visit I was more interested in sketching from land.


Looking across the river I could see a spot that would be good for a view of the wharf (it is not marked on any maps).

How to get there? The lady in the discovery centre couldn’t tell me but I shortly afterwards realised that my AirBnB host had sent me a message telling me exactly how to get this view.


Fun to see the state border on the wharf (the line is the high-water mark with the river belonging to NSW).


There were also some old trains there (of course an important part of the old port)… so much to sketch in Echuca!


But I was on a mission… and was happy to find the view I wanted to sketch.


There was even a chair I could sit on!


And the occasional paddle steamer going past.


I really enjoyed sketching this view. Note: The 10 bays of the Rochester hotel the afternoon before was good preparation for the 17 bays of this wharf. 


I then did a quick sketch of one of the paddle steamers right next to me!


After a lovely lunch at a busy local cafe I wanted to do a sketch from the historic street, but the sun was in the wrong position (Note for next time: it’s a morning sketching location) but I did find a bench with the view to the blacksmith’s shed.

I had a lovely lengthy conversation with an artist from near Phillip Island in the middle of this sketch, so I lost focus a little when I tried to finish it off. Sometimes it is hard to finish off a sketch with the same degree of concentration after a great long chat with someone. But that’s okay as the conversations are often more important than the actual sketch.


The final sketch for the day was along the other river in town – Campaspe River.


I had a lot of fun doing this one – another example of a super quick landscape sketch. 15 minutes this time and pencil rather than pen!


Back at the main street at 3pm. Like many other towns I’ve visited on this trip, the streets were starting to look empty by this time in the afternoon.


And to finish off this article… here is the first spread of the day – with my morning coffee and a few main street buildings. 

Once again, I would definitely like to visit these three towns again as there was much more to explore and sketch!


  • Alice Zanivan says:

    Hi Liz,

    My name is Alice and I’m following you from Italy.
    I’ve just found your blog and I think it’s really nice, a good way to discovery Australia (unfortunately, I’ve never been there).

    Actually, I love to draw too and I’m going to open a blog too.
    Do you have any suggestions for me on how to manage sketches?

    I really thank you if you’ll like to reply to me!
    Anyway, you’re doing a really good job, keep going!


    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Alice,
      Welcome to the blog! Im not sure what you mean by manage sketches – on your computer? or something else.
      I save high res and upload res versions of my sketches grouped by year with a filename so I can easily find them again. Used to add date, now I add a sketchbook number.

  • Kate Powell says:

    I’ve been enjoying your travels and sketches… I’d love to get to AU before I die but I think it is not likely!

  • Kay Finlayson says:

    Hi Liz
    What an excellent adventure you’ve been on. I’ve been enjoying every post, viewing our country through your eyes. Congratulations on the beautiful work you’ve been doing – always amazing. Enjoy the rest of your travels.


  • Jennifer Rumford says:

    I love the drawings of the red veranda buildings in the small towns. They seem so clearly Australian (to a non-Australian). And I love the farm grain storage units – we have so many of these in cotton and farm land in Texas. The town halls are very similar to the series of court houses that were built in Texas in the 1800s, so they are very familiar to me. Thanks for sharing these.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Jennifer… I’m really interested in similar areas in Texas… and to find out how they are different. A project when I’m back home perhaps?

  • Chris Morgan says:

    Have really enjoyed your trip so far and all your sketches particularly as I’ve recently visited many of the same places in NSW. Sadly the husband & dog took up far more of my time than sketching. I only managed to do a few. Anyway I’m just wondering how the current Covid outbreak & lockdown in Victoria is going to affect your plans?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Chris – any sketch is better than none! 🙂
      All ok in terms of Victoria… I went through and got out before the community spread happened!

  • Jenny Rose says:

    I look forward to your daily sketches, also the interesting titbits about the people you meet and the food you’ve eaten.
    I would use the word Smithy for the blacksmiths shop, maybe that’s just a word used in the UK?
    I’ve read about the lockdown in Melbourne, I hope this does not impact on your travel schedule.
    Safe travels

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jenny – I know the term Smithy – not sure how much it’s used in Australia. THankfully I was not at all affected by the lockdown.

  • Roger Wujek says:

    You’re actually a good ombudsman for your country. I never thought much about visiting Australia since it’s on the other side of my world, Litchfield, USA. Reading about your travels has made me realize that there are sketchable scenes in my small town of 6,000.

    Thanks, and keep it up.

    Roger Wujek

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Roger! I’m really hoping that my trip does indeed inspire people to explore their own locality – no matter what the size or how ordinary it seems. I’m particularly interested in doing some historical research so that I better understand what I’m looking at. Have fun!

  • ANDY SMITH says:

    WOW Liz, I have just randomly stumbled across your blog and I must say- You really bring the scenery to life, how I wish I was even a quarter of an artist as you!! Very Inspiring work.

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