In 1851, gold was discovered in Ballarat, prompting migrants from around the world to flock to Victoria and propelling the development of the state. Gold was also discovered in other areas, including Bendigo and Castlemaine, and as stories of wealth spread across the globe, Victoria’s gold rush came into full swing.
Begin your historical foray in Ballarat, an hour and a half west of Melbourne. There’s no better place to learn about Ballarat’s gold rush history than at Sovereign Hill, a living museum covering 15 hectares of former mining sites. At Sovereign Hill, you will be truly immersed in the history of the region, with costumed actors, period stores and dwellings, underground mine tours, and gold-panning experiences on the cards.
Forty minutes from Ballarat, you’ll find the bustling town of Daylesford. The crown of Hepburn Shire, Daylesford is a favourite among locals, with people flocking to the town from around the state for a spot of relaxation, country charm and, of course, history.
For some history and culture combined, head to The Convent gallery, located within the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. The Convent dates back to the 1860s, and was originally the Gold Commissioner’s residence during the gold rush. The building was then purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s, and in the 1890s became the Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School for Girls. The building was opened as a gallery in 1991, and it now houses incredible artistic displays and a charming cafe.
Half an hour north of Daylesford is the picturesque town of Castlemaine, one of the best places in Victoria to marvel at gold rush architecture. First on the to-do list is a visit to Buda Historic Home and Garden, which dates back to 1861. This stunning building, and the three-acre gardens that surround it, once belonged to the Leviny family, and today provides a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
Read more about Victoria’s golden history, and where to uncover it, in the Spring 2021 edition of Caravanning Australia.
Image (C) Visit Victoria