Prospectors rushed to Victoria’s High Country during the 18th century to strike it rich.
These days, visitors come here to soak up the charm of the Victorian High Country towns dotted throughout the lush rural landscape. Along with climbing to the most famous lookout at Mt Buffalo, sampling an ‘official’ Ned Kelly pie, and admiring the rugged, rocky summits of The Jaithmathangs, you can explore some of the best towns on a Victoria High Country cycling adventure or lace up your walking shoes on a Victoria High Country walking trip. Here are five of the best Victorian High Country towns which offer plenty of charm, delicious dining and scenery that will knock your socks off.
Rutherglen has been famous for its superb wines since the 1850s and this doesn’t look like changing any time soon. Now home to some of the hottest young winemakers in the country, you’re in for a treat when you turn up at Rutherglen’s cellar doors. Along with the region’s famous sparkling reds, French varietals like Marsanne and Roussanne are also available for tasting at many locations. If you aren’t keen on wine, you’re in luck as there are great country pubs to check out as well. Allow time to take a stroll along the historic streetscapes and imagine what life might have been like here in the gold rush era. When hunger strikes, drop into a café or put together a picnic featuring the juicy red cherries that are grown at one of the many High Country farms.
FIND YOUR DREAM VICTORIAN HIGH COUNTRY TOUR
Discover the character-filled gold rush town of Beechworth with its fascinating stories, museums, and heritage architecture. Home to the legend of Ned Kelly, you can sample an ‘official’ Ned Kelly pie at the famous Beechworth bakery. If you’re thirsty, drop into Billson’s Brewery which was founded in 1865 and produces delicious beers, sodas, spirits and cordials. Join a walk through the historic centre of town with your leader and take in the town’s original architecture, much of which hasn’t changed since the gold rush era. Along the way, they’ll point out interesting sites such as the Burke Museum, Gun Powder Magazine, and what was once known as the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum.
Bright is the unofficial capital of the High Country and makes an excellent base for exploring the nearby mountains. If you’re visiting in autumn, you’ll be dazzled by the vibrant reds and golds of the leaves changing colour. Pamper yourself at a spa, throw in a line at the river, take an invigorating hike up to Huggins Point, or enjoy the peaceful riverside Canyon Walk. Love the sound of this charming Victorian country town? You’ll spend three nights here in charming accommodation with a toasty warm fireplace and a cosy communal guest lounge on our Victorian High Country walking trip where you can dine at the Dumu Balcony Cafe, an Indigenous training cafe.
VISIT BEECHWORTH, MYRTLEFORD AND BRIGHT ON THE ONE TOUR
This Victorian High Country town may be small but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with historical charm. The centre of town is considered so attractive that it’s been listed by the National Trust so the streetscape can be enjoyed by generations to come. Follow the Historic Buildings Street Walk and take in the impressive original architectural details on the facades of the buildings which line the street. There are boutiques, antique stores, museums, and galleries to discover along the way as well. Take an underground tour of the Karrs Reef Gold Mine or admire the view at the Yackandandah Gorge. If you’re feeling energetic, jump on your bike and explore the mountain bike trails which feature remnants of Yackandandah’s gold mining past.
Peddle to produce or wander through Myrtleford’s bucolic rural scenery, the choice is yours. This pretty town is the ideal spot to slow down, take your time and indulge in a rural foodie adventure. Discover the town’s tobacco-growing past on a Discovery Walk through town. If you want to stretch your legs, the Myrtleford-Everton Rail Trail is an easy 33 kilometre ride that’s mostly downhill, making this route a good option for novice cyclists. The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is equally good for beginners with no vehicle traffic and mostly sealed paths to cruise along. With the chance to sample wines along the way, these gentle rides make the most of Myrtleford’s vineyards and lush green pastoral land. If you feel like a rest, nothing beats soaking your feet in the Ovens River as you admire views of the distant Alps.