Taking a break from the scorching summer, me and my husband decided to pick a vacation of our own and head to Australia. If you want to reach Australia as soon as possible from Lahore, then Thai Airways is a good choice as it takes 14 hours to make one reach to Melbourne but if you take Emirates it will definitely take much longer due to a stop over in Dubai. So when I landed at Melbourne, I was really worn out because of the long flight but the moment I stepped out of the airport, the city’s cool breeze welcomed me. I didn’t stop much in Melbourne, as the entire purpose of the travelling was to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. I was on my way to Bendigo and trust me; this was one vacation spot choice I have never regretted. The city is magical, serene and calm. The wide streets are lined with majestic theatres, banks and a variety of different shops. Bendigo is home to the five dragons, including Loong, the world’s oldest Chinese imperial dragon, who made his first appearance on Bendigo streets in 1892, and Sun Loong, the world’s longest imperial dragon at more than 100 metres long. All five are displayed in the Golden Dragon Museum, which explores the Chinese history and the culture of the city. There are so many places to write about but words cannot do justice to the amazing city that Bendigo is, however I’ll state some must-visit places if you do happen to go there. SHAMROCK HOTEL— the hotel is an architectural gem and is truly mesmerising. What is more exciting than the architecture is the guest list of the hotel, which has hosted Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Lola Montez and Dame Nellie Melba, who famously asked for the post office clock to be stopped because the chiming kept her awake at night. TRAMWAYS — one of the many things that I loved about Bendigo was that the community has preserved its heritage really well. Take a ride back in time on a vintage tram. It’s a hop-on, hop-off tour bus with recorded commentary and it visits all the major tourist attractions in the city including the tram depot, the oldest operating one in the country, where old trams salvaged from around the world are being painstakingly restored. SHOP UNTIL YOU DROP — if I start with the shopping places in Bendigo, I will go on and on. This place has one major shopping area that has all the shopping malls. If you are looking for costly branded things then Myer is your stop shop and if you are in search of less expensive clothes then do visit Target. The sales are jaw dropping! One thing that I have observed in Bendigo is the fact that for Pakistanis, it can be a home away from home considering the number of Muslims and Pakistanis who live there. They are strongly rooted to their culture and their generation is more inclined towards valuing things and people MINE FOR GOLD — Bendigo is renowned for its gold mines. Since 1851, more gold mines were found in Bendigo than anywhere else in Victoria. Take the mine tour at the Central Deborah Gold Mine, the last commercial mine to operate in the city. FOODIE’S PARADISE— Usually finding the right place to eat is difficult when you are in another country but since Australia is a multi-ethnic city therefore one can also witness the diversity in food selection as well. Oya’s Turkish Kitchen Takeaway & Restaurant is the right place to feast at. One thing that I have observed in Bendigo is the fact that for Pakistanis, it can be a home away from home considering the number of Muslims and Pakistanis who live there. They are strongly rooted to their culture and their generation is more inclined towards valuing things and people. The writer is Information Officer at Directorate General Public Relations. She Tweets at @Sahreqbalwattoo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, July 25th 2017.