The Discovery Centre was established as a creative use of the iconic Bendigo Railway Goods Shed, built in the 1860s and used for over 100 years until road transit’s popularity eventually put it out of commission.
The area of Greater Bendigo, and Central Victoria stretching from Daylesford in the South and Bort in the North, is the ancestral home and hunting ground of the Dja Dja Wurrung (Jarra) people. After the establishment of Melbourne as a settlement, white settlers began seeking areas for farming animals, and the first sheep run was established in Bendigo (then titled Sandhurst) in 1837.
The discovery of gold in Sandhurst in September of 1851 brought hopeful miners to the region in huge numbers, bringing the population up to 40,000 people in under a year. A large number of these new residents were Chinese, they made up to 20 percent of the population and brought their customs, culture and beliefs to the Goldfields.
In deference to popular opinion Sandhurst changed its name to “Bendigo” in 1891, after its main creek. The name of the creek likely came from one of the shepherds with a reputation as a fierce boxer, who himself had been nicknamed “Bendigo” after the Nottingham prize-fighter William Abednego (“Bendigo”) Thompson.