carriages take visitors around
Almost perfectly preserved and maintained
historic goldmining town.
Beechworth is surely the state's, if not the
country's, best-preserved 19th-century gold
town. It has over 30 buildings listed with the
National Trust and, for the most part, they are
substantial and often elegant buildings in
excellent condition. Perhaps more important is
the feel of the streetscape. The historic
buildings in so many Australian towns tend to be
'cheek to jowl' with functional modern
structures, creating a motley, incoherent and
untidy effect. By comparison, Beechworth's
streetscape is remarkably coherent and
well-preserved. The frequent usage of
honey-coloured local granite as a building
material lends further cohesiveness. Indeed,
there is nothing to mar the overall feel which
is redolent of the past.
Naturally this motif of the past is central
to the town's commercial orientation as a
tourist town, but, even here, tastefulness
prevails. The businesses are housed in
appropriate buildings, there are some good
second-hand booksellers, and many of the gift
shops sell handcrafted items of genuine quality.
Even the trash-and-treasure outlets tend to be
Finally the public parks and gardens, with
their mature trees and interesting gardens, the
wide tree-lined streets, the 19th-century
residences and Beechworth's picturesque setting
in the foothills of the Australian Alps
contribute an indefinable but vital component to
the graceful and dignified air that hangs over
the park-like character of the town.
Beechworth is located 271 km north-east of
Melbourne via the Hume Freeway and has an
elevation above sea level of 550 metres.
Prior to European settlement the region was
occupied by several Aboriginal clans, with the
Min-jan-buttu occupying the area around
Beechworth. They led a semi-nomadic existence,
moving about according to the season. Spring saw
them taking advantage of the plentiful water and
food of theopen plains with summer heralding a
gathering of local tribes near Albury then an
ascent of Mount Bogong for the annual Bogong
moth feast and a cool high-altitude summer. At
the end of the summer they set fire to the high
plains to ensure regeneration. Winter was spent
amid the shelter provided by the rocky outcrops
of the foothills.
A man named David Reid explored the area in
1839 which he named May Day Hills. He built a
woolshed which lay behind the naming of Woolshed
Creek and hence the later Woolshed Goldfield.
The Beechworth goldrush was sparked when one of
Reid's former shepherds, named Meldrum, found
gold on Spring Creek in 1852. Numerous other
gold discoveries were subsequently made and 800
people were in the area by late 1852.
Storekeepers at May Day Hills asked the
government to lay out a township which it did.
The government surveyor named the town
Beechworth in 1853 after his birthplace in the
Reef mining of quartz soon replaced alluvial
work as the main source of gold with the usage
of dynamite leading to the creation of a powder
magazine in 1860 which is still standing. Large
companies were set up employing locals and the
area became one of the country's most productive
with about 120 000 kg extracted by 1866.
Hydraulic sluicing was comon with an estimated
1400 km of water races in existence by 1880.
That same year, a mining company concluded the
construction of an 800-metre tunnel extending
under the township to run water off at Spring
Creek. At its peak there were said to be 30,000
to 40,000 people and 61 drinking establishments
on the local fields.
Consequently Beechworth became the central
town of the Ovens River goldfields and the
administrative centre for north-eastern
Victoria. Numerous public buildings were erected
at this time, such as a hospital (1856), a
hospital for the aged, a mental asylum, a flour
mill (1855), law courts (1855) and, of course, a
gaol was an early necessity (1853). The first
local member was elected to parliament in 1855,
the year the first local newspaper was
established and the formalisation of the
township can be seen with the 1856 layout of
roads and footpaths and the prohibition of
canvas-built shops and homes. A major employer
at Beechworth for over a century was the Zwar
Brothers tannery which operated from 1858 until
1961. Beechworth benifited from being on the
main Melbourne to Sydney road, although the
town's importance declined when Wangaratta
received the railway in 1873. The railway
arrived at Beechworth in 1876.
Beechworth is said to have had the largest
Chinese population in the country outside of
Melbourne, with an estimated 7,000 on the local
fields by the early 1860s. They worked hard,
often intensively working claims abandoned by
others, and established market gardens and
tobacco growing. European resentment and racist
sentiments led to a riot in the Buckland Valley
in 1857 which saw Chinese miners bashed, robbed
The man sent to deal with the disorder was
Robert O'Hara Burke who, in tandem with William
Wills, led the first expedition to travel
north-south across Australia. He served as
superintendent of police at Beechworth from 1854
to 1858. The pistol that lay beside his body,
when it was found at Coopers Creek, was
inscribed 'Presented to Captain Burke by the
residents of Beechworth, Victoria'.
Another character with some relation to the
town was infamous highwayman, Dan 'Mad Dog'
Morgan, who passed through the district in 1860
after breeching his ticket-of-leave conditions.
He returned in 1865, bailing up travellers,
stations and public houses, and it was from
Beechworth that Superintendent Winch sent out
all available police in search of the bushranger
who was about to be outlawed by an Act of
Parliament which gave legal sanction to his
execution, without forewarning, by any party.
Australia's best-known bushranger, and
arguably the country's most famous figure, Ned
Kelly, together with his family and other gang
members, also had a lengthy association with
Beechworth - principally through its gaol and
courthouse (see entry on Beechworth Gaol in the
'Things to See' section).
As the surface gold thinned out sluicing,
dredging and deep-shaft mining became more
prominent. In 1880 an 800-metre mining tunnel
was cut through solid rock beneath the town. But
as the shafts became deeper and the operations
increased in scale, drainage and water supply
issues became a problem. In the last quarter of
the 19th century the town declined in importance
as the mining activity diminished. Commercial
mining of gold finally ceased in 1921 although
local creeks are still panned for gold and the
area is popular with gemstone fossickers.
The town stagnated until the 1960s when
tourism emerged. The National Trust assisted
locals in restoration projects. The government
also upgraded the mental hospital and training
prison and encouraged employment in the Forestry
and Lands commissions.
Annual events include The Drive Back in Time
weekend which is a vintage car gathering held in
February. The Beechworth Golden Horseshoes
Festival (which started in 1873) is held in
April, the Beechworth Harvest Celebration in
May, the Ned Kelly Trial Reenactment in August
and the Beechworth and North East Celtic
Festival in November.
Things to see:
Tourist Information and Ned Kelly's Cell
The Beechworth Visitor Information Centre is
located in the old town hall (1858) in Ford St,
between William and Camp Sts. The shire offices
at the front were rebuilt in 1888.
The information centre has an audio-visual
display called "Echoes of History," it offers
guided historical town tours for those who book
in advance and there is a publication for sale
outlining a walking guide of the town.
The centre furnishes information on local
walking tracks, horseriding, abseiling,
gold-panning, gem-fossicking, mountain-bike
riding, 4WD possibilities and trail-bike riding.
You'll need a miner's right to search for gold.
Enquiries can also be made here relating to
local tour operators. The centre can be
contacted on (1300) 366 321 or via email (email@example.com).
To the rear of the town hall is a small dark
cell with a dirt floor which, for six months,
imprisoned Australia's most notorious
bushranger, Ned Kelly (then aged 15) following
his first conviction (see next entry for further
details on Kelly's links with Beechworth).
The town hall gardens were laid out in 1875.
They contain some exotic species donated by
Ferdinand von Mueller who was responsible for
Melbourne's Botanic Gardens. The giant
Californian sequoias date from this time.
The Courthouse Museum, the Gaol and Ned
Over the road from the Information Centre is the
former courthouse (1858) and, just along Ford
St, on the other side of William St, is the gaol
(1859-1864). Both have strong associations with
Kelly, his family and his 'gang'. Indeed the
courthouse is now a museum with items relating
to the Kellys.
In 1869 Kelly, at the age of 13, formed an
association with bushranger Harry Power who
operated in the general area. As a result Kelly
was arrested and held in custody for seven weeks
as a suspected accomplice but the charge was
dismissed. Power was captured in 1870 and was
held at Beechworth where he was tried at the
courthouse and sentenced to 15 years at
Pentridge prison. He is thought to have been
responsible for 80 more armed hold-ups in the
area than all the Kellys put together.
Ned Kelly was first incarcerated in the
aforementioned cell to the rear of the town hall
in 1870 for assaulting Jeremiah McCormick.
Released in March 1871 he was again imprisoned
in August for three years on a charge of
receiving a stolen mare. He spent 18 months
doing forced labour in the area before being
sent off to Pentridge prison after a fracas.
Ned's younger brother James was sentenced to
five years at Beechworth Gaol in 1873 for cattle
duffing. While at the gaol he met future Kelly
gang member Joe Byrne, a native of the area, who
was serving time for assaulting a Chinese man.
Byrne's accomplice in the beating was Aaron
Sherritt whom Byrne would shoot as an informer
It was also in Beechworth Gaol that the two
men met Steve Hart who, at the age of 16, had
been sentenced to 12 months for horse theft. He
too would join the gang. Perhaps the only reason
James Kelly did not become an accomplice was the
ten-year sentence he received at Wagga Wagga in
1878 for horse theft.
The fourth gang member was Ned's other
brother Dan who was sentenced in 1877 for three
months on a charge of damaging property. Soon
after his release, a warrant for his arrest was
issued for horse stealing.
Ned's mother Ellen, her neighbour William
Williamson and her son-in-law William Skillion,
were tried at Beechworth courthouse and
sentenced, in October 1878, for aiding and
abetting in the 'attempted murder' of a trooper
of dubious character named Fitzpatrick who
visited the Kelly house in April 1878,
ostensibly to arrest Dan Kelly (see entry on
Glenrowan). She was sentenced to three years
and the men to six years each. The presiding
judge (Redmond Barry) allegedly remarked that
Ned Kelly would have received 15 years, if he
were present, for his part in the Fitzpatrick
affair. Subsequently, rewards were posted for
the arrest of Dan and Ned, causing them to go
into hiding in the Wombat Ranges where they were
joined by Byrne and Hart, thus precipitating the
formation of the 'Kelly gang'.
Ned's last visit to the town, gaol and
courthouse was after his final arrest in 1880.
During the trial public support for Kelly was so
strong that the government feared a mass
break-in to secure his release. They therefore
replaced the old wooden gates of the gaol with
the present iron doors. Because an impartial
local jury could not be found, the trial was
transferred to Melbourne where Kelly faced the
aforementioned Redmond Barry who sentenced him
to death. There is an impressive collection of
Kelly memorabilia at the Library and Burke
Museum (see subsequent entry).
Other distinguished figures associated with
the courthouse are Robert O'Hara Burke who, as
superintendent of police, acted as a prosecutor
in the courthouse in the 1850s, and future
governor-general Isaac Isaacs who started his
legal career by suing the local grammar school
in 1874. He lost the case and thus his position
as a teacher with the Department of Education.
13 people were sentenced to death from the
dock of the Beechworth courthouse, including
Elizabeth Scott, the first woman executed in
Victoria, who murdered her husband. Three
executioners/public floggers (all prisoners
seeking remissions of sentence through their
service) were active at Beechworth, including
Elijah Upjohn who hanged Ned Kelly.
The courthouse closed in 1989 and opened as a
museum in 1991. It is also a venue for local
events and meetings. Built of granite by
Scottish stonemasons it features a central block
with gabled ends containing the main courtroom,
flanked by office wings. Without are verandahs
and within a public vestibule. The furniture and
fittings are original.
The highly impressive gaol, with its slightly
medieval look, is a prominent feature of the
townscape. It was built in 1859 to replace a
wooden stockade and is still operating as a
penitentiary and is therefore not open to the
public. However, from the roadside it is
possible to enjoy the sight of the massive
granite perimeter walls, the picturesque rounded
sentry towers with octagonal roofs and the
arched gateway flanked by offices and quarters.
On the northern side of the gaol are the very
pleasant grounds of Queen Victoria Park.
and Police Station
Public Building Group
The courthouse is one of several excellent
public buildings at the northern end of Ford St,
between William and Camp Sts, which were built
between 1857 and 1859. Aside from the
courthouse, there is the old sub-treasury,
considered by the National Trust to be 'the
finest building of its type in Victoria', the
offices of the Chinese Protector and Warden of
the Goldfields and the former telegraph office .
The stone facade of the latter, with its arched
windows and verandah, was added c.1900. Careful
attention to detail is apparent throughout and
the decoration is dignified and simple. The
timber posts and valances contrast pleasantly
with the golden stonework.
The Bank of Australasia
On Ford St, between the courthouse and the post
office, is the former Bank of Australasia
(1858). It was formerly a gold-buying office and
the gold vault is now a wine cellar.
Dominating the town's main intersection (Ford
and Camp Sts) is the post office built in
1869-70 to replace the original which was
destroyed by fire in 1867. The present structure
is an Italianate structure with a square tower
containing a bell and the original clock. It
features a colonnade on the ground floor and a
balcony with slender columns facing Camp St. Out
the front is an unusual iron drinking fountain
with spouts in the shape of a lion's head.
Former Bank of Victoria
From the post office, cross over Camp St to
inspect the imposing Bank of Victoria building -
one of several substantial bank buildings which
emerged in the heyday of the gold era. It was
built in 1867 to replace a large stone bank
built in 1857 but destroyed by fire. It
currently houses Beechworth Gold, a jewellery
store. The building features arched windows on
the ground floor and a small cast-iron balcony
above the main entrance. Inside you can see the
original gold vault which was used when the
building was a gold office. Another retention
from the past is the 24-light chandelier with
over 4000 crystals.
The original toilet blocks, servants'
quarters and balcony have been restored and a
Victorian-style fountain has been installed in a
fine stone pool within the garden area which is
overseen by wrought-iron gates.
Wander along Camp St. At the corner with High St
is Wallace Park which dates from the 1890s when
the first trees were planted as part of the
celebrations relating to Queen Victoria's 1897
Jubilee. It is pleasant to amble alongside
I Beechworth Galleries
Slightly further along Albert Rd, on the corner
with Kerferd Rd, are Beechworth Galleries which
is situated opposite Lake Sambell in a former
wine merchants' store (1857). They are open
daily, tel: (03) 5728 1010.
Bank of NSW
Return along Camp St to the intersection with
Ford St. Diagonally opposite Beechworth Gold is
the former Bank of NSW building, now a wine
centre. This excellent two-storey stone
structure was built in 1856-57.
Hibernian Hotel and Regency House
Cross over to the other side of Camp St and walk
along to the Loch St corner where you will find
the Hibernian Hotel (1876).
One house down from the corner, in Loch St,
is Regency House which was formerly the Regency
Theatre where Dame Nellie Melba performed.
Continue along Camp St for another block to the
Finch St corner. Fronting onto Camp St is the
impressive facade of the former London Tavern
(1859-62) which was the town's first all-brick
hotel. It is arranged around a verandahed
courtyard. The hotel's early notoriety resided
in the bath house at the centre of the courtyard
as it was the first public house in Beechworth
to boast such an attraction.
Former Star Hotel
Return along Camp St and turn right into Ford
St. On the right-hand side of the road is the
former Star Hotel (1864) which has been
converted to shops with the upstairs serving as
private accommodation. It was actually the third
building on the site to go under that name; the
first being erected in 1853 and the second
burned down by fire. The hotel doubled as a
theatre where acts of international renown
performed for the miners. As such it was the
social centre of the district. It features
Tanswell's Commercial Hotel
Over the road is Tanswell's Commercial Hotel.
The public houses were, of course, the most
important establishments in town for many
miners. Many wood and slab structures sprang up
with the initial goldrush. At one time there
were allegedly 61 such establishments on the
local goldfields. The most popular survived with
earlier wooden structures replaced by more
substantial buildings as capital accumulated.
Thus the present Commercial was built in 1873
to replace the 1853 wooden original. It is a
two-storey stone and brick structure with a
decorative iron lacework verandah. The facade,
with its richly gilded crest on the front window
and French doors, has been carefully restored.
The lounge is furnished in mid-19th century
style. The Kelly gang are said to have
frequented the establishment, even when there
was a price on their heads.
To the rear of the building are the
coachhouse and stables which were built in 1859
by an American named Hiram Crawford who
established his firm and a coach-building works
with Tanswell's acting as the booking office. A
regular coaching service operated from Melbourne
to Beechworth by 1854 but Crawford's proved the
At the corner of Ford and Church Sts is the
Buckland Gallery, offering a variety of arts and
crafts of genuine interest and quality. It is
located in adjacent buildings which encompass a
former corner store, cottage and a two-storey
building (c.1860s) which houses the gallery. It
is open daily, tel: (03) 5728 1432.
On the other side of Church St is the Anglican
Church which was erected in stages. The nave
dates from 1858, the tower and chancel from
1864. It is considered 'exemplary of early
provincial church design.' The massive square
tower and stained-glass windows are of note.
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church and Old
Turn right into Church St. One block will bring
you to the Priory Lane intersection. Over the
road is the Gothic-style Catholic Church (1868)
with its fine rose window and interior granite
columns. Down Priory Lane is the Old Priory
Lodge (1886), an historic convent which is now a
Old Hospital Facade
Continue along Church St. Once you cross Finch
St Centennial Park is to the left. Therein is an
elegant Palladian granite facade with
outstanding stonemasonry featuring a
triple-arched entrance topped by a stylised
Classical pediment atop paired Doric columns.
This is all that remains of the Ovens District
Hospital - once the largest hospital between
Melbourne and Sydney and, for many years, the
only hospital between Melbourne and Goulburn. It
was built in stages from 1856 to 1900 with the
facade dating from 1862-64. The Bunya pine and
Californian redwood are reminders of the
original and extensive gardens.
Murray Breweries Historic Cellars/Carriage
Turn right off Church St into Last St. Just past
the William St intersection are the Murray
Breweries which were built in 1865, at which
time they were known as Billson's Brewery. They
have been trading under the current name since
1916. The building is constructed of hand-made
bricks and oregon beams on a granite base.
The steam-heated cellars contain old
machinery, tools and items used by brewers,
coopers etc, including an international label
collection, a collection of miniature bottles,
hand-thrown stone jars, bottles of local origin
and a syphon collection. The cellars are open
daily and there is also the opportunity to try
the local brews, tel: (03) 5728 1304.
Housed in the same building is a collection
of light-horse regimental memorabilia and a
carriage museum, featuring an extensive array of
horse-drawn vehicles and saddlery, including a
fire cart, a funeral hearse, a four-wheeled
phaeton, a single-seat sulky and a Cobb & Co
Library and Burke Museum
Follow Williams St back towards the main street
then turn right into Loch St. To the left is the
Burke Museum. This building was erected in 1856
by the Beechworth Young Mens Association as an
athenaeum (basically a library). The museum was
established in 1863 in honour of Robert O'Hara
Burke who served as superintendent of police at
Beechworth from 1854 to 1858. In tandem with
William Wills he led the famous first expedition
to travel north-south across Australia in
1860-61 but he died on the return trip.
The museum houses one of the country's
largest collections relating to Ned Kelly, his
bushranging gang and his family, including a
revolver used by Joe Byrne, Steve Hart's
surcingle, the dock from the courthouse in which
Ned Kelly once stood, a replica of the famous
armour worn by Ned at Glenrowan, his death mask,
and the steps of Aaron Sheritt's hut where
Sheritt stood while being gunned down by Joe
There is also a large collection of
Aboriginal artefacts from south-eastern
Australia (purchased by the museum in 1868), the
Beechworth Chinese Community Collection, the
Goldmining and Life on the Goldfields
Collection, the Children's Collection (featuring
19th-century toys), a natural history collection
(including a rare example of a preserved
Tasmanian Tiger), a model of the Beechworth
streetscape as it was in its heyday and a
man-trap designed to disable trespassers.
Services include education programs for school
students, group tours and talks, a photographic
copy service, family and local history research,
a museum shop and a volunteer program.
The museum is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to
5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5728 1420.
Town Hall Gardens
Adjacent are the Town Hall Gardens, which date
from 1875, when noted botanist Ferdinard von
Mueller donated some trees. The fountain dates
from the 19th century.
St Andrew's Uniting Church
Return along Loch St and turn right into William
St. To the right are the town hall gardens and
to the left, over the road from the gaol, is St
Andrew's Uniting Church (1857), a rendered brick
structure of simple design featuring an unusual
square tower with a short spire and fine lancet
Beechworth Powder Magazine
The powder magazine is a small buttressed room
built in 1859 for storing the gunpowder used in
goldmining. It was erected on a ridge which was
separated from the town by a gorge and the inner
roof is arched and the foundations double-arched
so that an explosion would be directed upwards.
A sandstone fence surrounds the building, a
lightning conductor runs across the roof, the
metal fixtures are of copper and the floor nails
are of wood.
Powder magazines were a common feature of
major gold fields where large quantities of
powder were used in mining and in the quarrying
of stone for construction purposes. The law
required that any person entering town with a
specified weight in powder must store it at the
magazine and pay a small storage fee. Nearby you
will see a recreation of a miner's slab hut. It
is now private property.
To get there turn off Ford St into Camp St.
This will be a right turn if you are entering
Beechworth from Sydney, Albury or Chiltern
(i.e., from the north). Camp St eventually bends
to the left becoming Skidmore Rd. Once around
the corner there is a small diversion to the
left which leads to the magazine which is
situated in Gorge Reserve. Inside are period
exhibits. There is a small entry fee, tel: (03)
Just beyond the miner's hut, Skidmore Rd
intersects with Gorge Rd (see subsequent entry).
If you follow Ford St north out of town, past
the gaol and Queen Victoria Park, it bends to
the left as Sydney Rd. About 20 metres south of
the intersection of Sydney Rd and Gorge Rd is a
turnoff on the right into Cemetery Rd. The
Beechworth Cemetery, established in 1856, is
thought to contain the graves of some 2000
Chinese who scoured the goldfields in the 19th
century. Consequently there are twin ceremonial
Chinese Burning Towers (1883), a prayer desk and
rows of small headstones. Wealthy Chinese were
repatriated to their homeland upon their death
so it was the less prosperous who were buried
far from home.
Golden Horseshoes Monument
If you follow Sydney Rd north for another 20
metres you will come to the intersection with
Gorge Rd where you will see a monument
consisting of gilt horseshoes atop a cairn in
memory of the day in 1855 that miners celebrated
the election of their first local Member of
Parliament, Daniel Cameron, who rode at the head
of a parade on a horse shod with shoes made of
gold (or gilt, depending on your level of
The election followed a period of rivalry
between two groups of miners - the monkeys or
'wet' diggers who worked the creeks and wore
black woollen trousers and large, coloured
handkerchiefs, and the 'punchers' or 'dry'
diggers who worked the dry banks and gullies and
wore moleskins. The two groups fielded separate
electoral candidates. Cameron was the monkeys'
Gorge Scenic Drive
Gorge Rd (one-way) constitutes a 5-km scenic
drive around the northern and western outskirts
of Beechworth, taking in several lookouts,
granite tours, picnic spots, stands of black
cypress pines and waterfalls.
Gorge Rd intersects with Skidmore Rd near the
aforementioned powder magazine, so it is
possible to approach Gorge Rd along Skidmore Rd.
Two-thirds of the route is sealed and the
remainder is in good repair. Near the end of
Gorge Road is a viewing platform on the
left-hand side of the road which furnishes views
of Newtown Falls. Another 50 metres will bring
you to the intersection of Gorge Rd and Ford St,
near Newtown Bridge.
In Ford St, at the south-eastern part of town,
beyond Church St, is Newtown Bridge, built by
Scottish stonemasons from local granite in 1874.
From the bridge it is possible to see a mining
race carved from solid granite in 1866. It is 4
metres deep and 2 metres wide. Just upstream is
the site of the first gold discovery in
Beechworth Historic Park
Beechworth Historic Park contains a number of
scenic, historic and geological features of
interest. A series of walking trails criss-cross
the Gorge area on the northern side of town.
They connect the powder magazine, One Tree Hill
(named for a single red stringybark that
survived the miners' depredations) the Spring
Creek Cascades, a diversion dam built to divert
water into a water race for usage in mining
operations, The Precipice (which provides fine
views over the former Reids Creek goldfields),
Ingrams Rock, Fiddes Granite Quarry, the Reids
Creek Goldfields (only a few shafts and alluvial
mining sites remain) and Woolshed Falls (see
The tracks can be picked up from three points
along Gorge Rd (One Tree Hill, the powder
magazine and a point further along Gorge Rd),
from the Old Chiltern Rd (which heads north from
the intersection of Gorge Rd and Sydney Rd) and
from Woolshed Falls. An accompanying leaflet is
available from the Beechworth Information Centre
or Parks Victoria, tel: 131 963. Some sections
of the track are steep.
Beyond Newtown Bridge, Ford St becomes Bridge St
then the Wangaratta Road. Newtown Park is on the
roadside. Diffey Rd heads off to the left and
Pennyweight Lane runs off Diffey Rd. In
Pennyweight Lane is the Pennyweight Winery which
was established in 1982. It is named after the
Pennyweight Goldfield which was established here
in 1852. They sell table and fortified wines,
including sherries, and are open daily, tel:
(03) 5728 1747.
9 km west of Beechworth, on the Wangaratta Rd,
is Giaconda Vineyard, tel: (03) 5727 0246.
Another 2 km along Wangaratta Rd is Amulet
Vineyard which produces varieties such as
sangiovese, barbera, nebbiolo, merlot, cabernet,
pinot gris and orange muscat. Their cellar door
s open Friday to Monday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m., every day during school and public
holidays, and most other days, tel: (03) 5727
Sorrenberg Vineyard is located in Alma Rd,
beside the Beechworth Golf Course. It is a
small, family-owned affair, established in 1985.
They produce table wines such as sauvignon blanc,
chardonnat, gamay and cabernet sauvignon.
Tastings and cellar door sales are available but
by appointment only and there is a mail order
system, tel: (03) 5728 2278.
Savaterre Vineyard is at 929 Melbourne Rd,
tel: (03) 5727 0551. In town local and regional
wines are available from the Beechworth Wine
Centre at 87 Ford St. They are open Thursday to
Monday from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., tel: (03)
About 4 km west of Beechworth, on the Wangaratta
Rd, are the 19th-century granite buildings
associated with Black Springs Bakery which once
served the now defunct Black Springs community.
The Mental Hospital and Lodge
If you follow Camp St/Albert Rd (beyond
Beechworth Gallery) to its extreme south-eastern
end and cross over Gilchrist Ave, you will be in
the grounds of the Mental Hospital and Lodge
(1867) - a very large structure built of bricks
in the Dutch colonial style with curved gables.
The verandahs, laid end to end, would measure
almost a kilometre. The gardens were designed by
a landscape gardener who also happened to be one
of the first inmates. Water was supplied by
rainwater which was funnelled from the roof into
seven underground chambers via hollow verandah
posts. It is now home to the LaTrobe University
McConville Ave runs off Albert Rd, almost
opposite the Beechworth Gallery. It leads by
Lake Sambell which can clearly be seen from
Albert Rd. This was once a major goldmining site
which yielded over 1360 kg of gold until
operations ceased in 1921. The terrain was
demolished by hydraulic sluicing and so a dam
was created to conceal the scarred landscape in
1928. Today it is a popular recreation area
where boating, fishing, swimming and waterskiing
can be enjoyed. There is a boat ramp on
McConville Ave and there are playground
facilities and a Bocchi court.
Walking - Lake Sambell to Lake Kerferd
This 5-km walk (one-way) starts from the bridge
over Spring Creek on Peach Drive, near Lake
Sambell. It follows Spring Creek and Hurdle
Creek to Lake Kerferd which is the town's water
The first section of the track leads to
Silver Creek Caravan Park. It passes through old
mining sites where deep vertical shafts were
established. They are dangerous so be sure to
stay on the track which continues on past
Patterson Dam (established as a water supply for
mining) then joins up with a vehicle track built
to service the water pipeline which links Lake
Kerferd with Beechworth. This area is moister
and hence the trees tend to be taller. There are
blue gums, white-barked brittle gums and
peppermint with an understorey of shrubs. The
fauna includes eastern grey kangaroos,
wallabies, wombats, possums, koalas, parrots,
honeyeaters and other birdlife.
The local council established Lake Kerferd in
1862 to retain the waters of Hurdle Swamp. It
was once the site of annual regattas.
Driving - Lake Kerferd, Little Fletcher
Dam and Nine Mile Creek Historic Area (the
Follow Camp St/Albert Rd towards the former
mental hospital. 200 m beyond the Beechworth
Gallery turn left into Hodge Rd which becomes
the road to Stanley. About 6 km from Beechworth
there is a turnoff on the left onto a bitumen
road which should be signposted for Lake Kerferd.
When the bitumen runs out there is a branch on
the left and one on the right (both are
unsealed). The turnoff on the left leads
directly to Lake Kerferd.
To visit the other attractions take the
branch on the right. After about 500 metres
there is another intersection. Turn left then
right, passing by the Hurdle Flat community,
continue on across Rawes Rd and proceed on for
another 400 metres to Little Fletcher Dam which
is an attractive spot in the Stanley Forest.
Swimming, fishing and picnicking can be enjoyed.
There is also a circular walk around the dam.
To access the Nine Mile Creek Historic Area
(including the Wallaby Mine) backtrack the 400
metres from the dam and turn right, heading
north along Rawes Rd for 1 km then turn right
into Lower Nine Mile Rd which leads to a carpark
at the top of the Wallaby Mine. There are a
number of reef-mining relics in this area. The
Wallaby minesite features open stopes, water
races, tunnels and the remains of a stamper
battery which was used to crush ore-bearing
rock. Its ten stamping heads were powered by a
single-cylinder steam engine. Until it closed in
1912 a small local community was based around
the mine which possessed an elaborate system of
tracks, water races and rail cars.
If you ignore the turnoff to Lake Kerferd and
continue along the Stanley Road it leads,
unsurprisingly, to Stanley. This historic
goldmining village is located in the hills 10 km
south-east of Beechworth, among apple orchards,
berry farms, nut plantations and tall forests.
An annual picnic day commenced in 1851 with an
1891 government grant preserving the Stanley
picnic grounds for that purpose. Today's
wheelbarrow race is an overt reminder of the
village's early association with mining .
Stanley was, for many years, an apple-producer
and coolstores were dug into the hills just out
of town, on the Myrtleford Rd.
A rare cork tree in the village centre is
classified by the National Trust . The former
Presbyterian church is an orange-bricked hall
built c.1870. Opposite is an old primary school
building designed by the same architect. The
Indigo Inn (formerly the Star Hotel) and a
whitewashed gaol are also of historic interest.
The former operates as a bed-and-breakfast and a
The library/athenaeum in Main St is a painted
brick structure (1874) with a gable-roofed hall
and central vestibule which is attached to the
street facade. A small room was added to the
rear in 1891. An oak tree adjacent the building
was planted in 1870 and huge old holly trees can
still be seen in private gardens.
Murmungee Lookout and Bates Dam
When you come to the intersection at Stanley
turn right if you wish to visit Murmungee
Lookout. Three or four hundred metres from the
intersection turn right onto the Six Mile Rd (it
is signposted as part of the Beechworth Forest
Drive). Make your way to Clark Corner then get
yourself onto Lady Newton Drive which leads to
the lookout, furnishing excellent views over the
Murmungee Valley. There are picnic areas and a
Continue on along Lady Newton Drive down to
Bates Dam. It features some old mining
machinery, a walking track and picnic
7 km south-east of Stanley is the summit of Mt
Stanley (1064 m above sea-level), nestled in the
foothills of the Australian Alps. Atop is a fire
tower with excellent views of the surrounding
mountains, including Mount Buller and
Mount Buffalo. The Ovens Valley, Lake Hume
and the plains of southern New South Wales are
visible on a clear day.
Beechworth Forest Drive
Beechworth Forest Drive starts from the
intersection of High St and Elgin Rd. It takes
in some excellent picnic and sightseeing
locations, old mining sites and panoramic views.
It is denoted by a series of small aluminium
forest drive signs but it is advisable to drop
into the Beechworth Information Centre for a map
as it is possible to miss these sometimes
obscure but vital roadside markers.
Woolshed Falls and Goldfield
Head north out of town on Ford St/Sydney Rd.
About 3 km from the centre of Beechworth there
is an intersection. The branch on the right
Albury and the road on the left leads to
Chiltern. Follow the latter for about
another 2 km, take the signposted left into
McFeeters Rd then turn right into Woolshed Falls
Rd which leads to a carpark and picnic area with
an information shelter. This is where the
Woolshed Falls Historic Walk (one hour)
commences. It takes in a number of points of
interest associated with the Reids Creek
goldfield (Reids Creek being the original name
of Spring Creek). The original settlement
originally stood just upstream of this site. It
possessed a post office, stores and a police
camp and was the scene of several riots caused
by disputes over the ownership of claims. The
'punchers' worked the dry banks and gullies and
the 'monkeys' worked the stream. In 1853 William
Howitt wrote of the site: 'for nearly two miles,
a wide valley is completely covered by tents and
the soil turned upside down by diggers. A more
rowdy and uninviting scene I never saw .... all
the trees were cut down; the ground where it was
not actually dug up was eaten perfectly bare by
lean horses ... more shabbiness and apparent
wretchedness it would be difficult to conceive
... Reids Creek has the character of being a
disorderly and dangerous place. There have been
no less than fifteen murders committed at it'.
The walk takes in a large eroded gully which
was created when hydraulic sluicing was used to
divert Spring Creek (then known as Reids Creek)
in order to access the gold in the original
creek bed. There is also a diversion tunnel
(carved through solid granite to draw off excess
water), evidence of dry mining, an old water
race channel cut into the ground, an elevated
water race, and the Woolshed Falls which are
especially impressive after heavy rains. Water
from the falls was diverted by means of a steel
pipe (some steel rods which supported the pipe
can still be seen near the bottom of the falls,
to the left) so that the pool below could be
drained and the pool bed rifled for gold (57 kg
were recovered between 1918 and 1920). An
accompanying leaflet is available from Parks
Victoria (tel: 131 963) or the Beechworth
It was in this area that, on Saturday, June
26 1880, the Kelly gang executed Joe Byrne's old
friend turned police informer, Aaron Sherritt,
who was supposedly under the protection of the
four troopers in the house. It was part of a
plan to draw out a contingent of police from
Benalla, take them hostage and exchange them for
Ned Kelly's mother who was in prison. The gang
presumed the troopers would immediately raise
the alarm but, out of fear, the law officers hid
in the Sherritt house until Sunday afternoon and
hence the Benalla police were not activated
until Sunday evening. Thus the gang's plan began
to unravel with disastrous consequences,
culminating in the fatal and famous siege at
There are swimming and gemstone-fossicking
opportunities in this area.
Mt Pilot Lookout
About 11 km north of Beechworth along the
Chiltern Rd is a signposted turnoff on the right
into Old Coach Rd which leads to the summit of
Mt Pilot (548 m above sea-level) from whence
there are excellent views of the area, as well
as a picnic area and walking tracks. The
mountain was important to local Aboriginal clans
as a spiritual and ceremonial site. Springs in
the rocks here were also an essential water
Yeddonba Aboriginal Art Site
If you continue north along the
Beechworth-Chiltern Road then, about 2 km beyond
the turnoff to Mt Pilot Lookout, is another
turnoff on the right into Toveys Rd. Follow
Toveys Rd when it veers to the right (i.e.,
ignore the turnoff on the left) and you will
soon come to a carpark and picnic area on the
right-hand side of the road. This is the start
of a 45-minute walk which begins on the
left-hand side of the picnic area (as you face
it from the road). A related pamphlet, available
from the Beechworth Visitor's Centre, provides
considerable insight into the culture of the
Duduroa people who were the dominant indigenous
clan of the area. It does so by examining the
relationship between the Duduroa and various
attractions along the trail- the physical
setting, the flora, some rocky outcrops and a
However the main attraction along the track
is the Yeddonba Aboriginal Art Site which
depicts a Tasmanian tiger, a goanna and a snake.
The depictions are thought to be over 2000 years
old. They are faded but cannot be redone as
there are no known descendants of the Duduroa
alive today. Clan elders used this sacred site
to pass on the Dreaming story of the Tasmanian
tiger which was their totem spirit. The orange
ochre was probably obtained from clans in South
Also along the trail is a rock cave which the
Duduroa believed to be the home of the Tasmanian
tiger's spirit. It was used as an initiation
site to connect young men and women with the