Places to See - Things to do
Beechworth – A perfect place to visit all year round
Beechworth is the historic heart of Victoria’s High Country and the perfect base from which to explore, adventure, taste and indulge in the best of the High Country and the Australian Alps.
Located in the foothills of the Victorian Alps and surrounded by lush valleys and spectacular scenery, Beechworth is one of Victoria’s best-preserved gold rush towns, with more than 30 buildings listed by the National Trust.
Beechworth is one of only two towns in Victoria classified as “Notable” by the National Trust. With wide tree-lined streets and solid dignified buildings still in their original splendor, Beechworth is reminiscent of the flamboyant gold rush days.
Many buildings, sites, trees and the commercial core of the town are listed by the Australian Heritage Commission, Heritage Victoria and the National Trust. These magnificent buildings of the late 1800s have been restored and now house restaurants, accommodation, superb antique establishments and specialty shops. A dynamic arts community brings its interpretation through its work to visitors in a busy arts precinct. Beechworth can offer you fine dining, wineries, restaurants, cafes, delicatessens and country pubs, gift shops, book stores and a large selection of bric-a-brac and old wares. Whether your interest is in the historical, or in seeing how the past and present meld in a unique town environment, Beechworth can give you experiences that will bring you back, time after time.
With a population of approximately 3,200, Beechworth is centrally located in the heart of North East Victoria. Recognized as one of Victoria’s best preserved gold mining towns, Beechworth has over 30 buildings which are National Trust classified, including the Historic and Cultural Precinct, Burke Museum and Beechworth Goal where Ned Kelly was imprisoned. Historic tours, winery tours and ghost tours through the historic grounds of the former Mayday Hills Mental Asylum are available for individuals or groups. Browse through some of Beechworth’s unique galleries and shops, picnic in the park or by Lake Sambell. There is something for everyone!
Australia’s colonial days come to life in Victoria’s best preserved gold rush town, where four million ounces of gold were officially mined in the 1850’s. Wandering through the centre of town you’ll find beautifully preserved buildings housing the thriving Historic Precinct and an eclectic blend of galleries and handcrafts, fine retail boutiques, pubs, brewers, provedores, cafés and restaurants, gold, antiques and treasures, not to mention the famous bakery and sweet shop.
Visit the Beechworth cemetery, where a large section is dedicated to the graves of approximately 2,000 Chinese who came in search of gold, and see the twin ceremonial Chinese burning towers built in 1883 or visit the Chinese Cultural and Heritage Centre. The museum is named after Robert O’Hara Burke – the Beechworth police superintendent who became the famous (and ill-fated) explorer. Here you can learn about local aboriginal heritage, gold fever and see Ned Kelly’s death mask.
Venture out and experience Beechworth’s vineyards, boutique brewers, orchards and nut groves. For nature lovers, walkers and cyclists, National Parks, Beechworth Gorge, Woolshed Falls and the historic Rail Trail are close by. History surrounds Beechworth and visiting the gold diggings and gold rush relics offer a fascinating glimpse into Australia’s colonial past.
Beechworth hosts several annual festivals that celebrate agriculture, the rich history of its pioneers and heritage. These events include Opera in the Alps in January; Chinese Lantern Festival in February; the Harvest Celebration and Drive Back in Time in May; Ned Kelly Weekend in August; the Celtic Festival in November and Easter’s Golden Horseshoes Festival, which commemorates Daniel Cameron’s historic ride in 1855 on his horse shod with shoes of gold. Festivals and events occur throughout the year, so give us a call to find out what’s on and celebrate with us.
We look forward to seeing you in Beechworth soon.
Beechworth Ghost Tours
Beechworth Ghost Tours guided walking tours of the former Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum give you the opportunity to discover what life was like within the institution walls in the 1860s. The Asylum is in the picturesque gardens and grounds of Mayday Hills.
If you thought Beechworth was just about an untouched gold rush streetscape, fabulous local produce and boutique shops and accommodation, then think again!! Beechworth Gaol Unlocked reveals Beechworth’s less well known history, one that’s rich with tales of great escapes, betrayal and even romance – all within the walls of the gaol. The site has been used as a place of incarceration since 1855, continuing until the closure of HM Beechworth Prison in 2004. The Gaol is now open to the public revealing a time capsule – allowing the buildings to tell their story.
Stretching from the flat plains around the Murray River to the steep, timbered foothills of the Victorian Alps, North-East Victoria is a spectacularly beautiful area. The north-east’s five wine regions – Rutherglen, Beechworth, Alpine Valleys, King Valley and Glenrowan – all reflect their distinct climatic, topographic and historic differences in the quality and complexity of wines and the superb, artisan-style brews they produce. These range from luscious muscat, vibrant Italian varieties, and austere and restrained sparkling to the rich ales of its many craft breweries.
In the north lies Rutherglen, with a rich history of fortified winemaking and a great diversity of table wines. To the south is Glenrowan, ripe for rediscovery, which has been producing traditional wines of heroic proportions since the 1870s. To the east is the pristine mountain environment of the Alpine Valleys, King Valley and Beechworth – gateways to Victoria’s ski fields, which offer some of the state’s most innovative winemaking, diverse vineyards and elegant wines.
Woolshed Falls is only a 10 minute drive from Beechworth and features striking views of the area, picturesque walks and in the summer, it’s a popular place to cool off. Just watch out for slippery rocks!
Lake Sambell is located within the township of Beechworth. It was the site of the Rocky Mountain Mining Company open cut sluice operation during the mid 1800s and the early 1900s.
In the 1920s the area was created into a recreational lake and reserve for the citizens of Beechworth. Today it is used for swimming, fishing, walking, cycling and other forms of recreational use. The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail has been extended so that it passes through the reserve. Extensive work has been undertaken to provide walking trails throughout the reserve. Enhancing the swimming area is the man-made Sandy Beach next to the adventure playground. There are two electric barbecues, picnic tables and seating.
Indigo Gold Trail
Today, in and around Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen and Yackandandah, and the villages and countryside in between, the legacy of the rush for gold remains – from the perfectly preserved streetscapes of the towns to the countless mine shafts and mullock heaps to astonishing water races sluiced through solid granite; from Chinese Burning Towers and pioneer graves to historic government buildings, schools and museums all dating from those early, heady days of the gold rush. The Indigo Gold Trail takes in some of the most picturesque countryside in Australia and includes scores of easily accessible sites identified by storyboards featuring the trail logo. You can pick up a brochure at any of the Visitor Information Centres in Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen or Yackandandah. Each of the sites is identified on the large map in this brochure, and a brief description of each is listed by map reference in specific feature panels for Beechworth& district, Rutherglen, Chiltern and Yackandandah and district. A great range of accommodation to suit all pockets is available around the Indigo Gold Trail region so it’s easy to book a room, cottage or caravan or tent site and head off for a day – or two or seven – of gold discovery.
We could talk about the food and the wine, the extensive rail trails, the distinct seasons – our autumn is really something quite special. We could talk about our preserved history – Australia’s most significant collection of historic towns. But it is more than that. We have something quite different and unique here. It’s the winding roads and the little discoveries you make at the end of them. It’s the environment – the unspoilt corners of the Shire like Wahgunyah on the mighty Murray River and Upper Sandy Creek in the Kiewa Valley, the giant granite outcrops around Mt Pilot, the national parks. It’s missing your turn on a weekend drive and finding yourself at the end of a bush track looking at Mt Buffalo or Mt Hotham in the distance and realising it’s only about an hour to drive up there for a day’s snow skiing. It’s the ease of driving down and back to Melbourne in a day to catch a matinee show with your children. It’s going to any of our festivals across the Shire and seeing the spirit in our communities. All of this is what makes Indigo Shire including the towns of Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen and Yackandandah in north east Victoria so different.
Murray to Mountain Rail Trail
The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail is the perfect way to discover the diverse countryside of the North East Victoria, from natural bushland to open farmland, hidden valleys and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Australia. Not to mention all of the endless wine, food and activities you will find along the way. Over 100 kilometres of sealed off road trails provides you with the perfect link between the already popular tourist villages of Wangaratta, Beechworth, Rutherglen and Bright. More recently the off road sealed trail network has been extended Wangaratta to Milawa and Bright to Wandiligong.
Victoria’s High Country
The North East Valleys take in the wine regions of Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Glenrowan, King Valley and Rutherglen, and provide a unique wine and food experience for those visiting the North East of Victoria. This area is recognised as one of Australia’s premier destinations, offering a true regional experience, welcoming villages, spectacular scenery, a diversity of produce and four distinct seasons. Visit Great Alpine Road, Milawa Gourmet Region and Murray to Mountain Rail Trail for further information.
Head out of Beechworth along the Forest Drive to the hamlet of Stanley. Like Beechworth, this area was once a bustling goldmining town with many hotels, shops and artisans. Today you can sample the delicious local apples, nuts and berries when in season, and take in the spectacular views from Mt Stanley of the Victorian Alps and surrounding forest. Then stop for a meal at the Stanley Pub.
Chiltern is an historical town and living memorial to bygone days; its business centre buildings restored and maintained to preserve the architecture of its gold mining heritage. The town has since developed its theme around historic museums and bric-a-brac shops. There are quaint shops offering antiques and collectables, as well as cafes and accommodation. With most of its attractions within easy walking distance of the main streets, a picturesque park on Lake Anderson, bush walking tracks and bird watching spots in the surrounding Box-Ironbark National Park, Chiltern makes an ideal base for a relaxed holiday in North East Victoria. Website: www.chilternvic.com
Yackandandah is one of Australia’s prettiest villages. Nestled in the foothills of Stanley State Forest, we’re surrounded by lush, green vegetation and magnificent wildlife. We’re rich in heritage history and in natural resources (granite, gold, clay & sparkling spring water). It’s of little wonder the close knit community of Yackandandah is here to stay. It’s as strong today as it was in our early pioneering days. The old diggers certainly found gold when they decided to build our town in this secluded and protected valley. Today, Yackandandah is a thriving community, built upon the solid values and vision of our pioneers and miners. Yackandandah people are remarkable; their story has endured over the years because of the spirit of the town. It’s home to many talented artists and artisans from around the world and so is brimming with arts, crafts and antiques that will delight and surprise. Yackandandah has earned an impressive reputation for its spectacular, not to be missed, annual festivals and events. Over 30 community groups exist here, from fishing to the arts. There’s even a yachting squadron … all within a population of 700! It all begins with the descent from the surrounding tree covered hills of the Stanley State Forest, past the avenue of English trees, across the historic stone bridge with its sparking creek…here you’ll find the township of Yackandandah. Website: www.uniqueyackandandah.com.au
Wines to fortify, invigorate, enjoy, warm and best of all leave you with a memorable taste experience. Sixteen wonderful wineries, each with their own history and expertise, you can taste by the glass and take home by the bottle, ensuring that you’ll always remember your visit to the Rutherglen region. Don’t just taste the wines – immerse yourself in the heritage as you visit the wineries from historic castles, to rustic rooms that house the gold of this region. Savour the full flavours of the area, be it fine dining, casual bistro or picnic hamper, and at the end of the day, enjoy the warm hospitality of an historic pub stay, cabin beside the river, motel or bed and breakfast. Website: www.rutherglenvic.com
Milawa Gourmet Region
Nestled in the farming and wine-producing King Valley region, Milawa once serviced gold miners en route to the goldfields of Beechworth and the Ovens Valley. Today, the King Valley – incorporating the renowned Milawa Gourmet Region – is full of opportunities for food and wine buffs to sample an array of local produce in historic and spectacular natural scenery. Local produce available includes cheeses, mustards, nuts, berries, trout, honey, wine and olives. The King Valley is also proving itself as a premium grape-growing district with many boutique wineries now complementing the established Brown Brothers. Pay a visit to the cellar doors, where you’ll often find the winemakers themselves in attendance to answer your questions.
Great Alpine Road
The Great Alpine Road is a 308-kilometre route that extends from Wangaratta in the north-east to Bairnsdale in the heart of Gippsland. The road is Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road and winds past lofty mountains, valleys, forests, rivers, vineyards and farms. Sample local food and wine, and fish, cycle, climb or ride along the way.
Leg One of the Great Alpine Road is about 76km and takes you from Wangaratta to Bright. Make mouth-watering memories with the fine wine and local produce in the valleys along the northern leg of the Great Alpine Road. At Milawa call in at the famed Brown Brothers cellar door and sample your way through Milawa Mustards and the Cheese Factory. Meet the bold young winemakers reinvigorating historic Rutherglen, famous for its muscats and fortifieds.
Detour to Beechworth, a village built on the wealth of the gold rush of the 1800s. Explore the historic honey granite buildings, including the courthouse where bushranger Ned Kelly’s final trial commenced. Get a taste of Beechworth’s burgeoning food and wine scene and try for reservations at Provenance, Green Shed Bistro or Gigi’s of Beechworth.
Discover Mount Buffalo and its unique rock formations. Take a gentle walk to see waterfalls, granite formations and lookouts with great views of the alps, or go extreme on horseback or two wheels. Try your hand at rock climbing and, in winter, cross-country or downhill skiing. This leg ends at Bright, a beautiful town on the Ovens River, filled with grand deciduous trees that are breathtaking in autumn.
Festivals and Events
Beechworth is a town of celebrations and is famous for its many festivals. Here is a calendar of events to assist when planning your trip. Remember to book early if you are visiting us on a festival weekend.