Although explorers Hume and Hovell passed this way in 1824, it wasn’t until the gold rush of the 1860s that the settlement known as Red Gate Diggings took off. Today the town is known as Alexandra, located in the fertile soils of the Upper Goulburn River, 130 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.
Little is left to point to the existence of the gold fields, but superb historic buildings testify to the town’s prosperous past. Amongst the finest is the imposing Grant Street building constructed for the Union Bank in 1888. Now owned by the ANZ Bank, it retains its grand staircase and mantles.
The railway on which logs were hauled to Alexandra for milling has also gone, but the Timer Tramway Museum keeps the romantic period alive. The museum’s collection is housed in the original railway station buildings and includes the first diesel engine built in Victoria. Visitors can take a short train ride. The McKenzie Flora Reserve is nearby.
Alexandra is at the centre of some of the best trout fishing streams in Victoria. About 26 kilometres to the east, Lake Eildon is the largest, man-made lake in Victoria, with a capacity some seven times greater than Sydney Harbour. It is a popular place for boating, water sports, fishing, camping and bush walks.