The Victorian gold rush may have ended 150 years ago, but Central Victoria is still one of the best places to find gold in Australia. Before you begin your search, it’s advisable to do some research, and maybe get in a bit of gold panning practice. Sovereign Hill, a cross between a theme park and a museum, is an excellent place to begin. Covering 15 hectares of a former goldmining site in Ballarat, the museum demonstrates what life was like during the gold rush, and includes costumed characters, coach rides, and 1850s shops, trades, schools, and dwellings. It’s easy to spend the entire day here, with a variety of demonstrations, including candy making (with gluten- and dairy-free options), candle making and even musket firing.
You may not be guaranteed to find any gold nuggets on your trip, but you will certainly come across a bottle – or more – of excellent wine. Designated as a cool wine region, with vineyards planted between 300 and 800 feet, the Macedon Ranges produces many popular varietals, including chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet. And with more than 40 wineries to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
You’ll find the boutique Paramoor Winery tucked away in the small hamlet of Carlsruhe, just north of Woodend. Producing only 1500 cases per year, this small venue is a former working Clydesdale farm. Here, you’ll find relics of this previous life scattered throughout the venue, including horse-drawn carts, ploughs and mowers. The winery itself offers an array of reds and whites, with the award-winning pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon being particularly delicious.
After all of your exploring, you might be in need of some rejuvenation. Luckily, the country’s largest concentration of mineral springs is located a scenic 30-minute drive from the wineries. Local Dja Dja Wurrung people have recognised and utilised the healing properties of these waters for thousands of years – well before the gold rush. If you’re interested in learning a bit more of the history, and perhaps tasting the water from the different springs, stop by Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.
If you really feel like splurging, head over to The Spa at Lake House in Daylesford, adjacent to the well-known restaurant and hotel of the same name. Here, you’ll find treetop mineral baths. Although not technically in the treetops, the private, circular soaking tubs are housed in rustic sheds perched on the side of the hill, overlooking Lake Daylesford – giving the illusion of being built into the trees as you soak in the rose-scented waters.
To read more, check out the Spring 2022 edition of Caravanning Australia.
Image: Sovereign Hill (C) Visit Victoria.