Tens of thousands of excited diggers flocked to this region during the Gold Rush of the 1850s. They came from far and wide with dreams of striking it rich. Just one look at the stately architecture of the Goldfields and it’s clear many reaped the rewards of this boom time. Not only does the region provide a fantastic snapshot of this exciting period in Australian history, but today Goldfields accommodation contributes to the making of a retreat destination that prides itself on delicious local produce, specialist food stores, and outdoor adventure activities.
Bendigo , vic
Redesdale, VIC, vic
Wander the picturesque towns of the Goldfields and you may think you’ve stepped back in time. Contemporary galleries, stores, cafes and restaurants feature throughout the region, but beautifully maintained old buildings represent a time gone by.
Ballarat, Victoria’s largest inland city, lays claim to the famous Eureka Stockade rebellion of 1854. Once the site of the world’s largest deposit of alluvial gold, miners here banded together in a bloody revolt to defy the colonial authorities over high mining licence fees. It is said to have been the birth of democracy in Australia, and the symbol of this momentous period – the blue and white flag of the Southern Cross – can still be found flying proudly on many buildings in Ballarat today.
One of the city’s must-sees is Sovereign Hill, where you can pan for gold, ride in horse-drawn carts or take an underground tour of the mines. Check out the Chinese camp and joss-house, and mosey down the recreated old-world streetscape, passing people in period costume.
Bendigo lies about two hours north of Ballarat and a key feature is its vintage tram. Hop on and off as you take in the town’s main landmarks, such as the Alexandra fountain, old post office and town hall, and the Shamrock Hotel, which has accommodated the likes of opera diva Dame Nellie Melba.
It’s hard to imagine Castlemaine was once bigger than Bendigo, but city folk are increasingly being lured to this town, full of heritage charm, architecture and a growing arts community. Be sure to check out the old movie theatre.
Like the rest of the region, the fresh produce is amazing and dining standards impress. Similarly, nearby Maldon has pretty heritage streetscapes with relics of the town’s mining history, veranda-fronted art galleries, antique shops and cafes. Just outside town, visitors can take a fascinating walk-in tour at Carman’s Tunnel, hewn into a rock face in a wooded clearing, where gold mining was abandoned in the 1880s.
Leave enough time to explore some of the local wineries too – the Heathcote, Bendigo and Ballarat regions produce outstanding wines, including some of the best shiraz in Australia. Local fresh produce is on par with the wines and the dining options offer visitors outstanding cuisine. Burn off any indulgences with one of the many bushwalks or mountain bike trails around the region.
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