CULTURE ART AND HERITAGE

Gold, gold, gold! Your cheat sheet to Victoria’s Goldfields region

The Victorian Goldfields are a region full of riches.

A region full of riches – that sums up the Goldfields.

Built on the wealth of the 1850s and 1860s gold rushes – hence its name – this famous patch oozes history, opulence, and excitement.

Whether you’re after a memorable family holiday or a cosy romantic escape, this handy cheat sheet will easily acquaint you with a prized pocket of turf.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, some featured attractions within this article are temporarily closed. Please check official websites for the latest information.

All aboard for an exciting journey with variable appeal.

The sun is shining – what should I do?

Top of the list should be a stroll around Lake Wendouree in Ballarat followed by a wander through the adjoining Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss the gardens’ busts of Australian Prime Ministers.

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens are well-suited to walks. They are home to colourful elm and oak-lined avenues as well as Lake Joanna.

If you’re particularly energetic, tackle part of the 210km-long Goldfields Track by foot or pedal, soaking up countless forest views and historical towns.

Or enjoy a history lesson with visual appeal by joining one of many self-guided heritage walking trails.

Soak up the natural beauty of Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, which are perfect for leisurely walks.

Where can I delve into the region’s rich past?

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat: One of Victoria’s most popular attractions. This open-air museum features a recreated gold-rush village and underground mine. Pan for gold and be enthralled by its magnificent sound and light show.

The Museum of Australian Democracy, Ballarat: Located on the site of the dramatic 1854 Eureka Stockade. Uses this important event as a basis to cleverly explore the issues of democracy and people’s rights.

Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is an action-packed attraction.

Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo: Traces the history of Chinese culture within Bendigo and its surrounds through a series of absorbing indoor and outdoor attractions. Includes seriously ancient relics.

Central Deborah Gold Mine, Bendigo: Home of Australia’s deepest underground mine tour. Explore a once bustling gold mine situated 61m below the surface.

Vintage Talking Tram, Bendigo: A novel history lesson. These iconic trams reveal Bendigo’s past while visitors take in the city’s sights.

Buda Historic Home & Garden, Castlemaine: A well-preserved home and garden from the gold-rush days. Boasts an enviable collection of furniture, art, and other period items.

Take in the sights of Bendigo while learning about its past on an iconic vintage talking tram.

What’s the best family-friendly attraction?

We’ve already mentioned Sovereign Hill, but there is plenty more family fun in Ballarat.

Children will be dazzled by Kryal Castle adventure park, a mythical, medieval world full of wizards, dragons, and knights, and a series of great activities.

Ballarat Bird World is home to an astounding assortment of winged wonders while all manner of animals is on show at Ballarat Wildlife Park.

Ballarat Wildlife Park makes for a great family day out.

Elsewhere, The Discovery Science & Technology Centre in Bendigo is loaded with interactive exhibits to captivate kids big and small and includes a planetarium.

Or hop on board the Victorian Goldfields Railway steam train as it chugs between Castlemaine and Maldon most weekends and Wednesdays, gifting gorgeous views.

Soak up gorgeous views with a ride on of the Victorian Goldfields Railway.

What about a spot of culture?

Hands down, the best way to embrace Goldfields culture is to spend time within the confines of a top-class art gallery.

Ballarat Regional Gallery is the oldest and largest regional gallery in the country and showcases outstanding works from some of Australia’s most revered artists.

Founded in 1887, Bendigo Regional Gallery is equally as compelling. It’s home to an immense collection of excellent art and regularly attracts first-class exhibitions.

Castlemaine Art Museum showcases an enviable collection of Australian art and historical pieces relevant to the local area. It’s housed within an eye-catching art deco building. 

Get your dose of culture, colour, and creativity at Bendigo Art Gallery.

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Ballarat Regional Gallery is full of visual treats, too.

Where can I find the best photo ops?

Climb to the top of the Poppet Head lookout tower in Rosalind Park for beautiful, panoramic views of Bendigo and its surrounds. Follow that with a stroll along View St to photograph impressive heritage architecture.

The gorgeous town of Maldon is gifted with the 'most intact heritage streetscape', according to the National Trust, and so is ripe for pretty pics.

Maldon's streetscape oozes old-world charm.

Built more than 125 years ago, the Maryborough Railway Station is magnificent inside and out. It’s without doubt the prized attraction in this small town, roughly halfway between Ballarat and Bendigo.

A 30min drive north of Ballarat is the enticing township of Clunes, which offers an instantly appealing main street where time appears to have stood still.

The wealth of historical structures in Ballarat make for great photos, as does Lake Wendouree, particularly at sunrise or sunset. And Castlemaine has loads of heritage buildings to admire, too.

The historical buildings in Castlemaine make for fantastic photos.

What about a budget tip?

Grab a coffee from Bean and Barrow and then combine creativity and history with a walk along the Lindsay Art Trail in Creswick. The trail pays homage to the famous Lindsay family – think The Magic Pudding – through a series of points of interest. This charming township is just 15min from Ballarat.


Are there any wineries nearby?

Yes! Cellar doors abound in the Goldfields region with four wine regions to choose from. Options are:

Pyrenees: Abundant wineries, mainly clustered around Moonambel and Avoca. Hearty reds lead the way, most notably cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Winery recommendations: Taltarni is highly regarded for its sparkling rose; Blue Pyrenees brings a touch of France to Victoria.

Heathcote: 50-plus wineries and vineyards are dotted within this area. Renowned for its award-winning shiraz. Winery recommendations: Family-owned Sanguine Estate picks up awards about as often as it picks grapes; Flynn’s Wines produces sensational vino to pair with its delicious food.

Sample a sparkling rose at Taltarni winery in the Pyrenees.

Bendigo: Generally made up of boutique wineries scattered around the city and surrounds. Reds receive most attention. Winery recommendations: Balgownie Estate is the older sibling to its Yarra Valley site; Harcourt Valley Vineyards claims medals like it's the Olympics.

Ballarat: A cool-climate region with a great reputation. Signature grapes include pinot noir and sparkling. Winery recommendation: Mount Buninyong Winery is quirky to say the least but delivers a winery experience to remember.

Balgownie Estate is a worthy recommendation.

I’m looking for a classic pub. What have you got?

Indulge in quality ‘pub grub’ at the stylish, red-bricked Avoca Hotel in Avoca. It has a mouthwatering menu with a strong local flavour, and its wine and craft beer list has a similarly communal emphasis.

Warm and inviting, The Mallow in Ballarat is a top-notch gastropub with plenty of rewards for the palate and an ever-changing tap selection.

Treat your tastebuds to a tasty meal at Avoca Hotel, in Avoca.

The American Creswick in Creswick is another historical, cosy offering that provides an authentic Goldfields experience. Or stop by the Railway Hotel in Castlemaine or Maurocco Bar for cocktails.

In addition, several craft breweries are nestled within the Goldfields region. Top picks are Cubby Haus Brewing in Ballarat and Shedshaker Brewing in Castlemaine.
Elsewhere, Hop Temple in Ballarat has a great selection of craft beer, wine, and cocktails alongside great pub grub. And Theatre Royal in Castlemaine has a cosy wine bar along with a bistro and old-school cinema.


Hop Temple in Ballarat is a great pick for a beverage.

Where can I stay?

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BIG4 parks in the Goldfields region here.

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