|The Goldfields & Spa Country|
This fascinating journey takes you back to the turbulent goldrush days - the era of the 1854 Eureka Rebellion, when miners rose up against the authorities - and on to the highland spa country around Daylesford.
From Melbourne, head west on the Western Freeway (M8) to Ballarat. Originally a small farming settlement, the city developed rapidly once gold was discovered in the area in 1851. There is a great deal to see and do here, but Sovereign Hill is an absolute must. This superb outdoor museum re-creates the goldrush days and tells the dramatic Eureka Stockade story through a sound and light show.
From Ballarat, the Midland Highway will lead you to Daylesford, the ‘spa centre of Australia’. The area around here and Hepburn Springs is full of natural springs that have been acclaimed for their health-giving properties since the 1880s. To the north, the former gold mining towns of Castlemaine and Maldon feature grand old buildings.
Nearby Bendigo is another old mining town, with many fascinating remnants of that era - go underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine and visit the Chinese Joss House and Golden Dragon Museum. Other Bendigo attractions include the ‘Talking Tram’ tour, arts, crafts and pottery, the excellent Bendigo Art Gallery and a display of over forty vintage Holden vehicles.
The Calder Highway then leads up to the Macedon Ranges, part of the Great Dividing Range, and the towns of Kyneton and Woodend, where it’s worth stopping off to visit 717 metre-high Hanging Rock. This area also features several wineries, where you can sample fine vintages before returning to Melbourne via the picturesque town of Sunbury, located just off the highway.
Where to Stay
Time Required: 3-4 days are recommended