Historic town now an important rural service
Remnants around town bear witness to Creswick's
origins in the Victorian goldrushes of the
1850s. It is a quiet, attractive, interesting
and historic town situated on the Midland
Highway 129 km north-west of Melbourne, 18 km
north of Ballarat and 452 m above sea-level. The
current population is around 3000 and the main
local industries today are forestry, grazing,
agriculture and a woollen mill.
Prior to white settlement the area was
inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba people. The first
European settlers were the Creswick brothers who
established a large sheep station in 1842.
The first gold was discovered at the future
townsite in late 1851 or early 1852. 11 metric
tonnes of gold would ultimately be extracted. A
major contributor was the Madame Berry mine,
reputedly the richest in Australia. The first
hotel was licensed in 1853 and a townsite was
surveyed in 1854; the year the rush peaked with
some 25 000 on the local fields.
When the superficial gold was garnered
attention was turned to the deeper channels,
particularly by the Chinese who, in the late
1850s, established their camp (known as
'Chinatown') on the land now occupied by
From the early 1870s to the early 1880s
deep-lead mining was undertaken to penetrate the
basalt (formed by lava) and access the old
gold-bearing river beds underneath. Once a reef
had been reached it was pursued for kilometres
underground. One such mine was the Australasia
No.2 which became the site of the country's
worst every goldmining accident in 1882 when the
shaft flooded killing 22 men. Early in the 20th
century hydraulic sluicing and dredging were
As the old forests were destroyed by the
mining, Creswick became the site of the state's
first tree plantation in the 1880s. The Victoria
School of Forestry, which opened in 1910,
established many of the pine plantations which
surround the town today.
Creswick's most famous son is Norman Lindsay,
one of Australia's most original and prolific
visual artists, although most of his siblings
were also notable artists. Norman's novel
Redheap (1930) evokes the Creswick of the late
19th century. Its more scandalous elements
outraged some Creswick residents who
successfully petitioned the government to have
it banned until 1959.
Lindsay lived in Creswick until he was
sixteen when he left to work as a freelance
artist in Melbourne. His father assisted at the
birth, in 1885, of future prime minister John
Curtin, the son of a Creswick police sergeant.
William G. Spence, a key figure in Australian
union history, worked on the local goldfields,
setting up the Creswick Miners' Union in 1878.
The town's Spring Fiesta is held at the end
of October and Landfest in March.
Things to see:
Tourist Information and Services
The town's information centre is located at 1
Raglan St. It is open daily from midday to 6.00
p.m., tel: (03) 5345 1114. It can furnish a
walking tour of the town's historic buildings,
the Creswick Miners' Walk which takes in the old
goldmining sites from Creswick to Ballarat, a
walker's guide to Creswick Regional Park, the
Creswick Cemetery Walk and Rivers of Gold, a
booklet outlining a driving tour of the town and
its goldmining relics.
Also in the same building is Infolink where
visitors can gain access to the internet (and
thus email) or send a fax. It is a
not-for-profit community organisation which
charges $2 for 30 minutes and is open weekdays
when the information centre is open, but not on
Many buildings of the gold era survive in town.
The 1862 post office is located by the corner of
Albert and Raglan Sts. Around the corner in
Raglan St are the 1861 police station (now an
art gallery) and the former courthouse.
Between the post office and the shops, on
Albert St, is a lawned area with an 1897 band
rotunda dedicated to the bandsmen of the
Titanic. Across the road is the historic
American Hotel where the Havilah Lodge (formed
in 1859) first met. Their lodge building is
about five doors along. The internal murals date
from the turn of the century.
The former Bank of NSW is a distinctive
two-storey Classical building (1861) located at
the corner of Albert and Hall Sts. St Andrew's
Uniting Church (1861) is also in Albert St, just
past Melbourne Rd.
St John's Anglican Church (1861), and the
adjacent Gothic Revival rectory, are situated in
Napier St. The old railway station (1874) is off
Victoria St while the red-brick mechanics'
institute, with its decorative rendered facade
(1892), is now the rooms for the Creswick
Municipal Band. To the rear is an old bluestone
gold bullion store.
Off Moore St, beside Hammond Oval, are the
original goldfields hospital (1862-63) and
Tremearne House (1884), now occupied by the
Victoria School of Forestry and the Creswick
campus of Melbourne University. Tremearne House
is a gracious two-storey red-brick building with
elegant verandahs boasting some fine cast-iron
lacework. Within the extensive grounds is a tree
nursery and a display of equipment used by
foresters in the early days.
Creswick Historical Museum
Creswick Historical Museum is located in the
town hall (1876) on Albert St. The museum has an
exhibition of material relating to the
Australian painter, cartoonist and sculptor
Norman Lindsay who was born in Creswick in 1879.
There are paintings from the Lindsay family as
well as other historic artworks relating to
Other displays include photographs and
material from the town's goldmining past. The
fine interior of the council chambers has been
retained, complete with ornately carved stone
pillars, original furniture and winding
staircase. It is open from 1.30 p.m. to 4.30
p.m. on Sundays and public holidays, or by
appointment, tel: (03) 5345 2329.
The land now taken up by Calembeen Park was home
to the town's Chinese camp in the goldmining
days. However, hydraulic sluicing for gold
occurred around 1900. The gouges were filled
with water and became two lakes. There is an
explanatory plaque by the bridge that links the
two lagoons. One is an ideal swimming spot with
a diving tower and toddlers' pool. Another is
reserved for wildlife and fishing. Access is
along Cushing Avenue.
1.5 km north along Clunes Rd, to the left, is
the site of the old Australasia mine which was
flooded in 1882, drowning 22 men in what was the
country's worst ever goldmining accident. The
dead were buried in the Creswick cemetery at a
funeral attended by 15 000. Today the old mine
site is marked by a cairn, a pavilion relating
the story and a dial indicating the locations of
the district's old goldmines.
Beyond the Australasia the Ullina Rd heads off
to the right from the Clunes Rd. In this area
there are giant mullock heaps signposted from
the roadside. They are on private land but can
be seen from the road and are outlined in the
Rivers of Gold driving tour booklet.
Creswick Nursery and Landcare Centre is located
on the eastern side of town on the Midland
Highway. There is an education centre, a 1-km
Landcare Interpretation Trail through a wetland
area (with accompanying brochure) and a picnic
area with electric barbecues.
The La Gerche Walk, which also starts at the
nursery, is a 2-km self-guided walk through pine
and deciduous forest with points of interest
marked along the way. It commemorates the work
of early forester John La Gerche, who
established the picturesque forest in the late
The centre is open on weekdays from 8.00 a.m.
to 4.30 p.m.and weekends from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00
Nearby is Springmount Pottery. Located in a
natural bush setting, at 42 Midland Highway, it
specialises in Australian ceramics, ashware,
antiques, jewellery and fine art, tel: (03) 5345
The Gold Battery
Head down Melbourne Rd, turn into Ayres St and
then into Battery Crescent where you will find
one of the few remaining gold batteries in the
state. It was built to crush basalt ore in 1918
and is still in working condition. It will be
operating during the Spring Fiesta (October 25)
or at other times by appointment, tel: (03) 5345
St Georges Lake
1.3 km south-east along Melbourne Rd, to the
left, is St Georges Lake which was created to
provide water for gold sluicing. It is now a
pretty and secluded area fringed by pine and
eucalyptus which is used for swimming and
fishing. You can drive around the lake or pursue
the Upper or Lower walking tracks (the latter is
the more scenic). There are toilets and barbecue
Creswick Koala Park
Another kilometre along Melbourne Rd, to the
right, is the Koala Park situated in 15 ha of
natural bushland. Koalas were reintroduced into
this site from Phillip Island in 1942 due to the
presence of manna gums. There are picnic
facilities and some enjoyable walking tracks
through the reserve.
Just past the koala park, also to the right, is
the turnoff to Slaty Creek which is located in
Creswick Regional Park. There are areas for
picnicking, walking and gold panning. It is
incorporated into the Creswick Miners' Walk.
The Tangled Maze
The Tangled Maze is located on the Midland
Highway between Creswick and Newlyn. It has a
beautiful maze garden constructed of climbing
plants, unusual perennials, mini golf, a nursery
and a cafe, tel: (03) 5345 2847.
Brackenbury Lookout (535 m above sea-level) is
located at the eastern edge of town (take
Tourist Rd from behind the School of Forestry in
Moore St, then turn into Brackenbury Rd and it
is about a kilometre along to the right). It is
the finishing point of the Brackenbury Classic
half-marathon fun run which occurs during the
Dulcinea Winery, established in 1982, is located
on Jubilee Rd which runs off the Midland Highway
at Sulky (to the south of town), tel: (03) 5334
6440. It is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
daily and produces chardonnay, sauvignon blanc,
pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.