In the 1850s, Victoria and Melbourne exploded with wealth after gold was discovered in Ballarat and Bendigo. The fields surrounding these towns were Australia's richest and transformed Victoria into the most affluent state in Australia at the time. Much of the history of these gold rush towns has been preserved and in Ballarat, the restored buildings are home to attractions such as the Eureka Stockade Centre which offers interactive displays detailing the history and uprising. Nearby Sovereign Hill is a fascinating insight into old mining towns and this living museum has recreated life as it was over 100 years ago. Tours are available of an old gold mine and the award-winning sound and light show 'Blood on the Southern Cross' is also staged here.
Daylesford offers a relaxing and indulgent range of resorts, hotels and retreats, all firmly focused on maintaining the region’s reputation as ‘spa country’.
Bendigo flourish during the gold rush era and now continues to be one of the finest cities in country Victoria with grand old buildings, original facades, vintage tram sightseeing tours, underground visits to the old Central Deborah Gold Mine, the Classical Chinese Gardens, Golden Dragon Museum and 20 vineyards in another major wine region. South of Bendigo, Maldon is another town declared a major historic site and offers the best preserved goldfields in Victoria.
Northwest of Melbourne, Victoria's spa country begins with Hepburn Springs and Daylesford and has been renowned for its spas for over 100 years. Surrounded by gum trees, farming area and fern gullies, the loop of spa country also runs through the grape growing regions of Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges where you'll find some of the region's most excellent wines. Also home to a fine range of cuisine, Macedon features fine homes, English style gardens, a monument to Australian WWI soldiers and amazing views of Port Phillip Bay. Sunbury is famous as the birthplace of the iconic 'Ashes' cricket trophy, the oldest homestead in Victoria and was once the home of a famous music festival.
Heading north and east, the route arrives in Kyneton, home of Hanging Rock renowned as the subject of the film Picnic at Hanging Rock based on Joan Lindsay's 1975 novel and directed by internationally renowned Peter Weir. The picnic ground at Hanging Rock continues to be famous thanks to the annual picnic races held on January 1 and Australia Day, January 26. An Australian institution, the country's picnic horse races are a fun and laid back tradition. The Harvest Picnic Festival is also a huge event and focuses on the region's fantastic food and wine.
The entirety of spa country is scattered with natural attractions, boutique shops and art galleries, antique dealers, cafes and restaurants but is most famous for its indulgent range of spas and retreats.