Goldfields-Esperance, Victoria

The Goldfields region takes in a number of northern central Victorian cities that boomed in the gold rush, with some charming heritage areas as well as excellent regional galleries and impressive boutique wineries. The main cities are Ballarat and Bendigo.

Ballarat is the largest inland city in the state, and its Main Street features sights that seem straight out of the 1850s. At Sovereign Hill you can see redcoat soldiers march and fire muskets, visit a blacksmith’s forge, or ride in a horse-and-carriage. The Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest regional gallery in Australia. It contains the original Eureka flag. Visitors interested in the miners’ rebellion in 1854 can walk the Eureka Trail, which follows the steps taken by police and soldiers on their way to crush the uprising. There are three walking trails in the heritage precinct, and May includes Ballarat Heritage Weekend, with many period costumes to be seen and Steamrail Victoria locomotive rides to be taken.

The Goldfields’ other major city is Bendigo, with several cafes, antique stores and heritage architecture to enjoy. Of note is Bendigo’s Chinese history, dating back to an influx during the gold rush era. Golden Dragon Museum features pieces dating back to the Shang Dynasty and 1500 BC. Also, White Hills is Australia’s biggest Chinese cemetery.

The Talking Tram tour is thoroughly recommended, with those onboard getting talked through the sights of the city. Visitors can hop on and hop off at a number of points around Bendigo, including the Central Deborah Gold Mine and the spectacular Alexandra Fountain.

A small though notable area in Goldfields is Heathcote, which has been growing a reputation as a world-class wine region since the 1990s. Primarily known for its shirazes, Heathcote has a number of outstanding regional restaurant and winery options. The Heathcote Food and Wine Festival takes place in October.

The climate in Goldfields varies, and for the three cities listed above, the climates are moderate oceanic, oceanic and mediterranean/semi-arid respectively. The Ballarat average maximum and minimum temperatures in January are 25.1 and 10.8 degrees Celsius, and 10.0 and 3.2 for July.

The nearest airport to Goldfields is Avalon. Jetstar flies into Avalon from Sydney and Brisbane.