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Short Escape - Western Circuit
South-western Victoria is a region of many contrasts. This exciting itinerary takes you to the Pyrenees Ranges and the rugged Grampians, to fertile wool and wine country, volcanic lakes, and pristine wildlife areas. Four days recommended.

Travel from Melbourne to Ballarat, then take the Sunraysia Highway to the former goldmining town of Avoca, in a rich agricultural region at the foot of the beautiful Pyrenees Ranges. This area features excellent wineries and gracious old buildings: you can also visit the Avoca Rock Museum, with its collection of gemstones and minerals. Head north to St Arnaud via the Kara Kara vineyard, where you can sample some white wine. Visit the wheat growing centre of Donald, located on the Richardson River. From here, drive through grainfields to Minyip and then on to Horsham.

Established in the 1840s, riverside Horsham is the commercial centre of the Wimmera region, one of the world's finest wheat and wool growing areas. This town has many attractions - particularly the delightful Botanic Gardens, artworks at the Horsham Regional Art Gallery, and The Wool Factory, where ultra-fine wool is produced. You can also fish for trout in the Wimmera River and visit the Toscana Olive Plantation.

The Western Highway then leads to Stawell where, unlike many old Victorian mining towns, gold is still mined. Before heading south, a side trip to the 1850s goldrush town of Ararat is highly recommended. This Grampians region is famous for its fine wines, it is also the home of the Seppelts company, and Ararat itself.

From Stawell, it's just a short drive to Halls Gap, the gateway to the fabulous Gariwerd National Park. At the western extremity of the Great Dividing Range, this rugged region of sandstone ridges and peaks is known for its bushwalking and rockclimbing, rock paintings, and profusion of wildlife.

From Halls Gap, take a drive south through the national park's breathtaking scenery to the small village of Dunkeld and on to Hamilton, which labels itself as the 'Wool Capital of the World'. The Big Wool Bales is the ideal place to find out more about the industry. Other things to see include browsing through the Hamilton Art Gallery, visiting historic houses and fine gardens, and boating or fishing at man-made Lake Hamilton.

There are two options for your return to Melbourne. Take the Hamilton Highway to the agricultural town of Colac, where the area's lakes provide the perfect location for boating, water-skiing and fishing, or travel south to Portland or Port Fairy and link up with the spectacular Great Ocean Road.
Where To Stay
 Bakery Hill Motel, Ballarat
 Victoriana Motor Inn, Ballarat
 Barkley Motor Lodge, Ballarat
 Magdala Motor Lodge, Stawell
 Ararat Colonial Lodge, Ararat
 Halls Gap Colonial Motor Inn, Halls Gap
 Golden Grain Motor Inn, Horsham
 May Park Motor Lodge, Horsham
 Westlander Motor Inn, Horsham
 Goldsmiths Motel, Hamilton
 Lonsdale Motor Inn, Hamilton
 Baronga Motor Inn, Colac

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