History of Discovery
Since 2015 Discovery has operated as a not for profit incorporated community enterprise. Officially established on 31 October 1995, Discovery was Australia’s first science and technology centre outside of a major metropolitan area.
The concept of a science centre in Bendigo was fostered by the Industry and Education Consortium and was strongly supported by the Government of Victoria and the City of Greater Bendigo.
This and other significant corporate support allowed Discovery to open in the heritage listed Railway Goods Building, a building externally restored for the City of Greater Bendigo by Woolworths Limited.
Each year Discovery sees more than 30,000 visitors come through its doors.
Discovery After Dark Tours
Want to experience Bendigo’s history? Journey back in time to when the Discovery Centre was Bendigo’s Railway Goods Shed and the part it has played in the community from 1862 until the present day. Learn about the fascinating history of the Railway in Bendigo, its design, construction and casualties.
The tour involves an intimate after-dark walk through of the building with talented local tour guide Shane Steve, and a unique multimedia presentation in our Planetarium.
The city of Bendigo
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.
Railway Goods Shed
In 1862, the Railway arrived in Sandhurst, stimulating a vast array of local enterprises. Transporting and storing all these goods would soon require storehouse, and so, the Bendigo Railway Goods Shed was born.
“If there are any persons on Bendigo of such a croaking nature as to believe that the commercial prospects of the district are fading… a visit to the railway station since the opening of the goods traffic would cure them of grumbling… The utmost activity and bustle is everywhere observable, bales of merchandise of every size … are rapidly transferred from the trucks to the shed, thence by lorries are quickly despatched into Sandhurst. The goods shed being disconnected from the passenger station, the latter place is not in the least inconvenienced by the arrival of the goods trucks, which are run up to the shed by a distinct line of rails. It is fully anticipated that the opening of the goods traffic will communicate that impetus to commerce in Sandhurst that it has been languishing for some time back… on account of the very high rate of carriage from Melbourne.”
‘THE GOODS TRAFFIC TO BENDIGO’, Bendigo Advertiser, Thursday 12 April 1866, page 3
The Discovery Centre was established as a creative use of the iconic Bendigo Railway Goods Shed, build in the 1860s and used for over 100 years until road transit’s popularity eventually put it out of commission.