Stawell is a prosperous, pleasant town on the Western Highway, about 123km north-west of Ballarat. It has a deserved reputation for sophisticated dining and relaxed shopping in the central Gold Reef Mall.
But the town’s greatest claim to international fame is the annual Easter Stawell Gift - the world’s richest and one of the most enduring professional footraces in the world. Professional sprinters come from across the globe to contest huge prize money in the 130-yard (118.9m) dash and thousands of people flock to the town to watch and gamble on the handicap race.
All the history and drama which the race has generated for almost 150 years is contained in the records and memorabilia of the Stawell Gift Hall of Fame Museum.
Built on gold, Stawell swings to the Grampians Jazz Festival in February, attracts dedicated browsers to the Gourmet Weekend feast in May and silver screen buffs to the Halls Gap Film Festival in November.
You can get an overview of Stawell, of the present gold mining operations and beyond to the Grampians from the Pioneers Memorial and lookout at the top of Big Hill Road at the northern end of town.