Enjoy Looking and Feeling Amazing in Ballarat and Gold Fields VIC
Victoria’s largest inland city, Ballarat is a thriving hub of contemporary arts, events and food and wine, with a fascinating heritage backdrop. With its renowned wineries and burgeoning restaurant scene, Ballarat is fast emerging as a regional foodie destination. Recharge and refuel after a day on the trail at one of the town’s popular eateries, pubs or cafes. And for that special holiday celebration, sip local varietals at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar or book a table at Catfish, hatted by the Good Food Guide.
Explore the legacy of the gold rush, still evident in the magnificent architecture and tree-lined streets of the town today. Admire the city’s Victorian and Edwardian buildings, parks, gardens and statues by following one of the visitor information centre’s self-guided heritage walks. Pan for gold and watch the hustle and bustle of an 1850s gold mining settlement at Sovereign Hill. Don’t miss the dramatic Blood on the Southern Cross sound and light show, recreating the story of the Eureka Rebellion.
Spend a day enjoying the fantastic collection of Australian art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Australia’s oldest and largest regional gallery. Catch a show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, originally opened in 1875, and wander through specialty shops stocking everything from boutique clothing and books to homewares, crafts and homemade supplies. Get free WiFi at Queen Victoria Square, opposite the Ballarat Town Hall, on Sturt Street.
Bendigo is Victoria’s fourth largest city, located around 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. Bendigo has a rich and prosperous heritage dating back to the days when gold was discovered in the area in the 1850s. Since then, Bendigo has been the second highest producing goldfield in Australia and remains the seventh largest in the world. Bendigo’s rich gold history has produced a city of unparalleled opulence and grandeur. Stunning architecture and manicured gardens are all symbolic of Bendigo.
One of Bendigo’s most elegant streets is Pall Mall in the city centre. At its southern end stands the grand Alexandra Fountain which was built in 1881 out of granite. Further along Pall Mall is the elaborate old post office (built between 1883 and 1887) which now houses the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre, and next door are the law courts (built between 1892 and 1896), also of similar architecture. On the corner of Pall Mall and Williamson Street is Bendigo’s most famous hotel, the lavishly adorned Shamrock, which was built in 1897.
Other attractions include several art galleries and the Golden Dragon Museum which is a tribute to the city’s long history with Chinese people and culture. Bendigo city is situated in a fertile valley, surrounded by a number of hilly suburbs featuring wide tree-lined streets, bushland, and a several large reserves, creating a pleasant and green environment for residents and visitors. In fact, with natural bushland entirely surrounding Bendigo, it has been referred to as “a city within a forest”. A number of lakes and reservoirs are located within the city, including the most central, Lake Weeroona, which features gardens and parkland.
Maryborough has a splendid cluster of heritage buildings centred around the Maryborough Civic Centre. The elegant architecture of The Court House, Town Hall, Post Office and Old Fire Station display the fine workmanship of a bygone era.
Maryborough’s art trail starts with the changing exhibitions shown at the Central Goldfields Art Gallery. The Gallery rotates local and contemporary artists from the Goldfields region, and covers a wide range of styles. The Gallery Collection includes work by renowned and local artisits. No visit is complete without seeing the award winning, historic Maryborough Railway Station dating back to the 1890s. Mark Twain remarked when visiting “You can put the whole population of Maryborough into it with a sofa a piece and have room for more”. The station is reported to have the longest platform in country Victoria. Admire the highly polished timber ceiling and beautiful tessellated floor in the main entrance.
Today’s visitors come for many reasons: to wander through the lovely box-ironbark forests with its wildflowers, birds and superb display of Wattle in the spring, to research family history, to visit nearby wineries or explore markets, galleries and museums. The Central Goldfields Art Gallery, now housed in the former fire station building and the fine architecture of the Bull and Mouth Hotel in the main street, are a must-see on any heritage inspired walk.
Visit historic Castlemaine, a bustling town renowned for its eclectic arts scene, rich gold rush history, and growing reputation as a fine food destination. Stop by a local artist’s studio to find sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, paintings and textiles, or experience the village’s artistic heritage by taking in a concert at the Theatre Royal, Australia’s oldest continually operating theatre. For a day viewing major Australian and international works, head to the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum.
Foodies and wine lovers won’t be disappointed as a number of talented chefs have made the move to the area. Frock up or stick with country casual and book your spot at the Public Inn, hatted by the Good Food Guide. Savour some of the region’s finest food coupled with exceptional local wines. Stock up on olive oil, cheeses, preserves and fresh apples and cider at farm gates and specialty provedores on your way through. Collectors, brace yourselves: Castlemaine is a veritable treasure trove. Allow plenty of time to browse the stores lining Mostyn and Barker streets and the intriguing wall-to-wall relics at the Restorers Barn.
Explore Castlemaine’s rich history and heritage with a self-guided tour of its grand public buildings, wide streets, ornate hotels and century-old shops. You’ll find a range of self-guided walks that take in the village and beyond. Hire an MP3 player from the Visitor Information Centre in the historic Market Building on Mostyn Street and start exploring. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the lake in the Botanical Gardens. Established in 1856 the gardens have recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Visit Buda Historic Home and Garden with its magnificent 19th Century gardens and house, or head out along the Goldfields Track by foot or on two wheels.
Journey to historic Maldon and experience what life was like during the gold rush era. Wander past old weatherboard homes, solid stone buildings and decorative shop fronts in this lovingly preserved Australian gold mining town. In recognition of this, in 2006, Maldon was awarded the ‘most intact heritage streetscape’ by the National Trust. Take an afternoon to unearth hidden treasures in one of the many antique and collectable shops around town. Browse through fashion boutiques, sample local produce and handmade chocolates at one of the many cafes, or view the local arts on display.
To get a taste of the area, follow the Maldon Taste of Gold food and wine trail. Sample local wines and produce from farmgates and cellar doors along the way. Not surprisingly, there are many regional events that showcase the area’s gourmet strengths, so be sure to plan ahead. Take a nostalgic journey on board the Victorian Goldfields Steam Railway. Take in views of the surrounding countryside or go on a drive up Mt Tarrangower to get a 360 degree view of the area from the lookout tower.
Admire the architecture of Creswick’s broad, elegantly curved main street, studded with buildings that owe their existence to the gold rush town’s heyday. Originally inhabited by the Indigenous Dja Dja Wurrung people, Creswick grew rapidly during the gold rush years and later became the birthplace of reforestation and home to the school of forestry in Victoria.
Get a glimpse of the town’s rich history on a stroll past the old Masonic Lodge, State Savings Bank, Creswick Library, Post Office. For a closer look, spend a few quiet hours delving into the local folklore at the Creswick Museum. Explore the places of interest relating to Creswick’s famous son, noted artist Norman Lindsay. Pay attention to the progress of the Magic Pudding Playground, based around the characters and events of Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding book and a delight for kids and adults alike. Follow the journey of yarn, from shearing, processing and weaving, on a guided tour of Creswick’s historic woollen mills. While you’re there, meet the resident alpacas, pick up some luxurious products and enjoy a coffee in the onsite cafe. Work on your swing with a round or two at the RACV Goldfields Resort 18-hole course, designed by Tony Cashmore.
Venture out to Creswick Regional Park for koala spotting, bush walking or enjoy a quiet picnic and a spot of fishing at St Georges Lake. Visit in springtime and marvel at the colours of the native wildflowers. Make Creswick a rest and refuel stop on your Goldfields Track adventures. Take the Wallaby Track into the Dividing Range, through open native forest and into town for some much-needed respite before getting back on track.
Buninyong is a town 11km from Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. The town is on the Midland Highway, south of Ballarat on the road to Geelong. It is the site of the first inland town proclaimed in Victoria and was where gold was first discovered in the area, leading to the large Gold Rush of the 1850s. The name originates from an Aboriginal word also recorded as ‘Buninyouang’, said to mean ‘man lying on his back with his knees raised’, which is in reference to the shape of Mount Buninyong. European settlers named it Bunnenyong and the name later simplified to its current form.
Buninyong’s landmarks include Mount Buninyong (volcanic mountain), gardens and the many historic buildings, including the Town Hall, Crown Hotel, Holy Trinity Church among others. The Buninyong Botanic Gardens at Buninyong are among the oldest Botanic Gardens in the State of Victoria. There are several grand “boom style” homes in and around the town. The town has an Australian Rules football team competing in the Central Highlands Football League. Golfers play at the Buninyong Golf Club on Learmonth Street.
Sebastopol is a southern suburb on the rural-urban fringe of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. It is the second most populated area in urban Ballarat. It is named after Sevastopol in Crimea, the site of an important battle during the Crimean War. Formerly a separate town, Sebastopol had municipal status between 1864 and 1994 after which the Borough of Sebastopol was merged into the City of Ballarat. Today it is the site of numerous light-industrial businesses and primarily low cost single-family detached homes and is a fringe suburb in Ballarat and also one of the most car dependent areas in the city.
Sebastopol is home to The Complex Recreation Centre, most commonly known as “The Complex.” The building was built in 1961 and is rich in history, but has only recently transformed into a second home for Ballarat’s troubled youths. Sebastopol has an Australian rules football team competing in the Ballarat Football League. The Sebastopol Vikings play association football/soccer in the Ballarat & District Soccer Association.
Heathcote is a town in central Victoria, Australia, situated on the Northern Highway 110 kilometres north of Melbourne and 40 kilometres south-east of Bendigo via the McIvor Highway. There’s a never-ending list of things to do and see in and around Heathcote – no matter where your interests lie. For the nature lovers, there is an abundance of parks and forests surrounding the town, with the historic O’Keefe Trail offering the perfect place to explore on bike or foot. Water babies will enjoy the aquatic playground that is Lake Eppalock for swimming, boating or fishing.
Check out the local products and produce available both in town and from surrounding farms and wineries, offering tasty homegrown fare that you’ll find hard to beat. Take a leisurely trip through the countryside and visit some of the beautiful wineries and cellar doors. Meet the winemakers and discover more about their passion for a fine drop. Wander the main street and check out the great cafes, cute boutiques and quirky second-hand stores. Appreciate the beautiful history on offer with stunning buildings from the gold rush era and explore beyond the centre of town for more unique historical locations. Embrace the local art scene with galleries and if you’re a keen photographer, there is inspiration galore.
Charlton is located in North Central Victoria on the Calder Highway midway between Melbourne and Mildura, within the Buloke Shire. It is situated in the valley of the Avoca River in the last of the foothills of the Victorian highlands. Charlton welcomes visitors to the town and invites all to stay awhile and enjoy the river’s natural beauty, our heritage style buildings and the town’s friendly hospitality.
The rural town of Charlton is situated north-west of Bendigo, near Wedderburn and St Arnaud. Charlton established itself during the late 1800s as grain growing area and there are several grain silos in Charlton and surrounding communities which highlight what is still this region’s main industry. The commercial centre of Charlton is located on High Street. The Avoca River flows right through the town centre and there are walking tracks and parks beside the river. 14 kilometres west of Charlton on the road to Donald are the Wooroonook Lakes. They are surrounded by picnic grounds and offer swimming, fishing and boating.
Wycheproof is a small country town of some 800 people which has the distinction of a railway line traversing the main thoroughfare. This circumstance apparently arose because the government was unwilling to pay extra money to purchase land especially for the track. This section of the highway is known as Broadway St. It seems difficult to credit but an American-born chemist came up with the name in the 1880s as it reminded him of New York’s Broadway. Perhaps New York was smaller then. Wycheproof is situated on the edge of the Mallee, 292 km north-west of Melbourne and 268 km south-east of Mildura on the Calder Highway. The economic basis of the area is evident in the one-million-bushel silos adjacent the highway (and railway line) at the northern end of the settlement.
Just up the road is an old steam train and turntable on the eastern side of the highway. A little further north is Centenary Park, a pleasant place for a picnic or rest. There are bird aviaries, two log cabins (one displays historical furniture), a cock-and-log fence, barbecue and toilet facilities and a playground.
Stretch your legs in the laid-back town of Beaufort. Situated en route to Ararat, stop in to make the most of the buzzing local cafes and scenic walking trails close to the centre of town.
Wander down the peaceful main street, where historic architecture dates back to the 1850s, stopping into local shops and quaint eateries. Browse the nearby craft and antique shops and pick out a unique piece to take home with you.Pack up the family for a day at Beaufort Lake, a great spot for a picnic lunch and a stroll by the water. Visitors and locals alike also use the lake for fishing, waterskiing, swimming and boating. Venture further afield to Mount Buangor and Mount Cole State Forest to see native orchids and wildflowers in bloom during the springtime. Challenge yourself to a hike along the Beeripmo walking track. Choose from a single-day walk or stretch your legs on the complete the full two-day hike.
Peckish? Fuel up at the restaurants and cafes lining Beaufort’s main street. The Pyrenees Pantry, formerly known as Three Troupers Pantry, is a local favourite with great coffee and homely country fare. Head to Pyrenees’ vineyards to sample cool-climate wines and sample the local fare. Choose from progressive menus designed by top chefs to complement the local wines. Check out the annual Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally to see old steam-powered machinery, from old tractors to vintage caravans. If you’re down to boogie, pack a tent and load up on glowsticks for the Rainbow Serpent Festival, a weekend-long event of music, arts and performance in nearby Lexton.