James Esmond guaranteed his place in history when he hit pay dirt while prospecting a Clunes quartz reef on July 7, 1851. It was the first payable strike in Victoria and triggered one of the world’s greatest gold rushes.
Today Clunes, 148 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, boasts some of the best-preserved 19th century architecture in the state.
Crafted in sandstone, bluestone and brick, the buildings in Fraser Street reflect the verandahed elegance of the age. It will come as no surprise if the scene is familiar to first-time Clunes visitors as the streetscape and town railway station made ‘cameo appearances’ in the first Mad Max movie, while the casts of the ABC television series, Something in the Air and Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude have all called the small goldfields town home from time to time.
And if you are into bottles, Clunes is your kind of town. The Bottle Museum contains the largest collection in the southern hemisphere with more than 6,000 items dating back to the 1850s.