Travel along Victoria’s Midland Highway and discover towns steeped in the state’s gold rush history.
Situated just an hour out of Melbourne, begin your journey in the historically rich town of Ballarat. It is Victoria’s third-largest city, experiencing major population growth in the 1850s after news spread that it was home to the world’s richest alluvial goldfield. Today, while the gold is long gone, there are still many reminders of this prosperous time, such as the town’s beautiful heritage buildings, fountains and tourist attractions celebrating this historical – and rich – era. Step back in time when you visit Sovereign Hill, a re-created gold rush township and outdoor museum. Experience what life was like back in this era and pan for gold, ride a stagecoach through the street lined with historically re-created buildings or take a tour on the mine tram.
A short drive down the Midland Highway is Creswick, another former goldmining town. Visit the National Trust–classified Town Hall, which now houses the Creswick Museum. This spectacular building was constructed in 1876 and is known for the magnificent winding staircase made of local basalt. There is a gallery displaying early colonial paintings, as well as the Mining Room, which outlines the history of goldmining and pays tribute to the worst goldmining disaster in Australian history.
Once you arrive in Bendigo, you’ll be tempted to stay a few days to explore what this great town has to offer. Bendigo has a very wealthy history when it comes to the gold rush and has since been the second-best producing goldfield in Australia. It’s for this reason that Bendigo is a city of supreme opulence, with magnificent architecture and gardens throughout. Take a ride on one of Bendigo’s Vintage Talking Trams and admire the work that has gone into restoring each vehicle while taking in the sights of the town.