Whether you’re looking for the perfect way to spend a weekend, a longer list of top things to do or you need to entertain the kids, there are plenty of memorable ways to enjoy a holiday in the Goldfields.
Art & heritage
Watch actors play out scenes from the gold rush in an immersive 1850s setting at Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill’s Outdoor Museum on a former gold mining site. At night, it’s time for Aura – a light and sound show that tells the story of the gold rush, the creation story of the Wadawurrung people and the Eureka Stockade Rebellion (you can find out more on this at The Eureka Centre).
Take the historic Bendigo Tramways into town for an afternoon at Bendigo Art Gallery or the Chinese heritage Golden Dragon Museum. Then don a hard hat and mining scrubs to head underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine. Once you’ve descended, you’ll be given a tour below ground, checking out cold dripping tunnels, fascinating mining equipment and deep shafts into the dark, while finding out just how miners got the 929 kilos of gold found here back to the surface.
At Castlemaine, take a Victorian-era steam train out to Maldon for lunch with the Victorian Goldfields Railway. At Maldon, explore Carman’s Tunnel, a fascinating example of mining techniques.
Wineries & food
Stop by to try the wine at the cellar door of Balgownie Estate in Bendigo, or extend the experience by booking a table at its restaurant, before retiring to one of its glamping tents in the vines.
Mitchell Harris Wines has an industrial-style wine bar in the centre of Ballarat, serving their own wines, as well as Pyrenees reds and cool climate drops from the area.
Forty kilometres from Bendigo, are the wineries of Heathcote – try the boutique, family-run Sanguine Estate or the Heathcote Winery and Cellar Door on the main street of town. The Heathcote Wine and Food Festival is also on during early October.
Antiques & markets
Line your esky with produce at the Ballarat Farmers Market, held on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. Show some love to your vintage collection as well, at the daily Ballarat Mill Markets.
Drive the 40 minutes to Talbot, for its monthly farmers’ markets, with stalls of fresh seasonal vegetables, local cheeses, fresh flowers and more.
At Castlemaine, you’ll find a wealth of antiques, independent stores and vintage shops. Don’t miss The Mill Castlemaine with its huge Vintage Bazaar, or its monthly Castlemaine Farmers Markets.