Beaufort (and Buangor)
Historic gold town now a modest service
Beaufort is located on the Western Highway, 158
km north-west of Melbourne, between Ballarat and
Ararat. It is situated 387 m above sea-level in
a district given over, principally, to primary
production: wool, farming, forestry, quarrying
The area was once occupied by the Jajowarrung
Aborigines who called the area 'Peerick'. The
first European in the area was Thomas Mitchell.
The first squatters were the Kirklands and a Mr
Hamilton who took up land in 1838. The latter's
'Trawalla' station was taken over by Adolphus
Goldsmith in 1841 and he established a rich
Gold was discovered in 1852 with another rush
at Fiery Creek in 1854. Four settlements sprung
up on the Fiery Creek Diggings'; one of which
was Beaufort. It was surveyed in 1857 and town
allotments were sold from 1858. A Catholic
church was built in the early 1860s and the
first council meeting was held in 1864 - the
same year the town's primary school was
It is claimed that there were 10 000
prospectors in the immediate area at the peak of
the rush but the alluvial gold was gone by the
mid-1860s. However, reef mining continued until
1914. In its place grazing reasserted itself,
logging got under way and agriculture developed
with some ex-miners taking up selections in the
district. A flour mill opened in 1865 and the
railway arrived in 1874.
The town was allegedly named after Rear
Admiral Francis Beaufort who devised the
Beaufort scale for measuring wind velocity.
However, other sources suggest the source is a
village in Monmouthshire, Wales.
Radical activist, labour leader and poet,
Bernard O'Dowd was born at Beaufort in 1866,
although his attempts to set up a local school
failed as his free-thinking, skeptical attitude
to conventional religiosity and wayward
spiritualism were unpopular. On a more earthy
note, it is alleged that vegemite was invented
at Beaufort in 1923 by Dr Cyril Percy Callister.
Today the town is a service centre to the
area which produces beef, fat lambs, wool,
cereals and timber. There is a timber-treatment
plant in town.
Things to see:
Beaufort is quite an historic town but there is
little information that is readily available on
the town's heritage buildings. Consequently,
dates are often unavailable. However, as you
enter Beaufort along the highway (from
Melbourne), you will see the town's primary
school to the left. The original school building
dates from 1864.
The Garage Sale
As you continue along the highway, you will see,
also to the left, The Garage Sale, a large
second-hand bric-a-brac shop, tel: (03) 5349
DeBeare House Antiques
Just past it is the first main crossroad -
Lawrence St. On the corner is the antique shop
which is situated in a lovely old 19th-century
building, tel: (03) 5349 2696.
Turn right into Lawrence St and, 50 metres along
the road, to the right, is the old post office,
which is still in operation. It dates from the
late 19th century.
Another 50 m along Lawrence St, turn right when
you get to the pub, into Pratt St. Just along
here is the old railway station (1874) which is
no longer in use.
Continue along Pratt St as it veers back to the
highway where you will find an attractive war
memorial with a rose garden setting.
Almost opposite is an octagonal band rotunda
(1908) which is crowned by a fine octagonal
lantern with iron-grille decoration and a
Tourist Information and Primitive
Just a little further along the highway (towards
Ararat) is the town's information centre which
is located in an old church hall associated with
the Primitive Methodist Church adjacent (1886).
Walk back along the highway towards Melbourne
and turn right into Havelock St. Just along here
are the attractive old fire station and the
former mechanics' institute.
Return along the highway to Lawrence St and turn
right, heading south. Along this road is
Beaufort Lake which is lovely spot for a picnic.
There is a caravan park and a football ground.
15 km south of Beaufort (via Lawrence St) is
Lake Goldsmith, noted for the steam rally which
is held there twice a year, usually in April and
October. It is one of the largest of its type in
the state with hundreds of steam and antique oil
engines on display. The actual site of the rally
is 1 km east of the lake along the Lake
Goldsmith to Ballarat Rd, tel: (03) 5349 5512.
Mt Buangor State Park
Mt Buangor State Park (2630 ha) is located to
the north-west of Beaufort. Ferntree Gully Rd
heads north off the Western Highway at the Major
Mitchell Trail sign, 14 km west of Beaufort. A
side road on the left after 800 m leads to the
popular Middle Creek camping area which is
joined by a 15-km network of tracks to the
Ferntree Falls campsite. It also the starting
point for the strenuous Cave Walking Track.
The main road (now known as Ferntree
Waterfalls Rd) continues north past Bales Picnic
Area to a side track on the right which leads to
the Ferntree Falls Camping and Picnic Area where
you will find the short and easy self-guided
Waterfalls Nature Walk and other longer paths.
The flats here are characterised by woodlands of
swamp gum, manna gum and blue gum. Beyond here
the main road heads west as the Saddle Road
concluding at the Buangor-Warrak Rd. Turn left
to the village of Buangor on the highway.
The northern section of the park can be
accessed from the Main Mount Cole Rd which leads
through Mt Cole State Forest (see next entry).
For further information ring (03) 5349 2404.
Mt Cole State Forest
The Main Mount Cole Rd, which runs from the
small village of Raglan in the south-east to
Warrak in the north-west, bisects Mt Cole State
Forest (11 130 ha) and also provides access to
the northern section of Mt Buangor State Park.
As the two reserves adjoin they share similar
plant and animal communities.
Small timber mills were set up here in the
1840s and they prospered in the goldrush era.
Logging continues in Mt Cole Forest but is now
banned in Buangor Park.
There are numerous picnic and camping areas
which are clearly signposted off the Main Mt
Cole Rd, and an extensive system of walking
tracks, ranging from short family walks to
overnight hikes. Particularly good is the 4-km
walk through fern gullies and dry sclerophyll
forest at the Ditchfield Camping Area along Camp
Rd (signposted off Mt Cole Rd).
There are several fine lookouts in the
forest, including Lookout Hill and Ben Nevis
which is part of the Mt Cole plateau. Another
track heads off the main road through the
Mugwump Camping Area and up to the snow gums of
Mt Buangor (993 m). These are two of the four
hang-gliding sites in the reserve. Two fine
scenic sites are The Glut and Victoria Mill
In all there are 250 km of tracks in the
forest though many are only suitable for 4WD.
Take care as the roads are narrow, winding and
unsealed and logging trucks may well be just
around the next corner. For further information
ring (03) 5349 2404.
Buangor is a small town on the Western Highway,
20 km west of Beaufort. The name is Aboriginal
for 'pointed hill', a reference to Mt Buangor.
It developed in the 1860s as a service centre to
local farms and travellers and as a Cobb & Co.
staging station on the Raglan-Beaufort and
Horshan runs. On the right-hand side of the
highway, as you head towards Ararat, is the
Catholic church dating from 1875. Behind it is
the school (1878).
Just past the church is a Cobb & Co changing
station built in 1869 and still in good
condition. If you wish to see the interior speak
to someone at the nearby hotel, first licensed
in 1865. Turn left at the hotel into Main Rd.
The first side road on the right is Cobbs Rd
which has the Buangor Nursery. The second,
Bunagor Rd, contains the railway station (1875).
The store opposite Buangor Rd dates from 1865.
The third, Challicum Rd, contains the old
Anglican church (1888), now a private residence,
and the cemetery.
Mt Langi Vineyard
The Warrak Rd heads north off the highway at
Buangor. 5 km along is the caravan display and
museum where there are historic vans, bottles
and collectables. It is another 2 km to the Mt
Langhi Ghiran Vineyard, situated on the eastern
slopes of the mountain. It is open from 9.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m. weekdays and 12.00 p.m. to
5.00 p.m. weekends,