Bendigo Visitor Centre
The Bendigo Visitor Centre (BVC) is located in the iconic Historic Post Office, an architectural masterpiece, constructed in 1887 to signify Bendigo’s prominence in Victoria’s prosperity. BVC is open 7 days per week, 364 days of the year, welcoming more than 100,000 visitors through the doors annually.
The Historic Post Office Tour has evolved over several stages, to form a value added experience for visitors to Bendigo. The role the building has played over time, by providing communication between people, is still relevant today with its current use as a Visitor Centre.
BVC’s interpretive tour explores one of Australia’s grandest buildings and provides an insight into the past and present techniques people use to communicate. Fully restored to its former glory in 1986, this treasured grand old dame continues to provide a warm welcome to all, just as it would have in the 19th century.
Integrated with the BVC’s volunteer tour guide team are the personal stories of characters that have had a significant influence or connection with the building over the years. BVC recognise the importance of capturing these stories first hand and for this reason a book and video with spoken word documentation was commissioned. This has been incorporated into the tours in an effort to preserve these personal histories and offer an additional interpretation element.
Launched in March 2014, the Historic Post Office Tour enabled the BVC to respond to the evolving needs of visitors and continue to offer new and interesting opportunities to further enrich the visitor experience through personal storytelling.
Originally the tour was conventional in its presentation and iPad interactivity was later introduced to help visitors understand the spaces and the changing use of the building more effectively. It was important that the technology was easy to use and that it enhanced the tour by providing close up images without creating interruption as a result of participants lack of technology experience. Because of this, an app was incorporated that allows the tour guide to control when images are displayed on all iPads used by participants, effectively allowing the guide to control all users’ devices. Visitors are provided with access to exclusive areas of the building not open to the public and shown footage of past workers talking about their experiences as they move through each section of the building.
The main objective has been to preserve history and provide enhancement of the connection between the Historic Post Office and the current use as the BVC through interpretation. The tours assist to further augment the BVC’s role in connecting with the Bendigo community and visitors by offering a cultural experience and an opportunity to develop a new revenue stream for the business.
All income generated from the tour ticket cost is directed back into the tour development. iPads were able to be purchased to support the delivery of the tours. For smaller groups each participant is given an individual iPad and with larger groups a shared arrangement is deployed.
The BVC continues to strive for excellence as it further develops its programs and visitor experiences. More iPads will be purchased to add to the resources and reduce the number of participants that need to share a device. There is great flexibility so presentations can be altered as new images and information relevant to the tours becomes available. The story of the Historic Post Office will continue to evolve and ensure this grand public building can continue to be enjoyed by all.