Tiny village with historic attractions
Smeaton is a tiny hamlet located in a farming
and grazing area 142 km north-west of Melbourne,
via Creswick and 31 km north of Ballarat.
Prior to white settlement the area was
inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba people. Overlander
and pastoralist John Hepburn, a retired ship's
captain, settled in the area in 1838, naming it
after an estate in Scotland. He built one of the
state's earliest substantial country homes which
still stands today.
Some gold was found in the area in the early
1850s but supplying the miners of the district
proved more profitable.
Things to see:
The most important attraction in Smeaton (and a
clear indication of its economic history) is the
19th century industrial complex which includes
an beautifully preserved four-storey bluestone
flour mill which is possibly the largest flour
mill ever built in Victoria and the most
perfectly preserved mill in Australia. The flour
mill includes a 25-tonne waterwheel which is
8.5-metre across, and a huge chimney.
Outbuildings include a bluestone office,
stables, a granary, a residence and a
The complex was built in the early 1860s by
the Anderson family who had made a fortune on
the Victorian goldfields. When wheat production
shifted to the north-west the mill was refitted
for oatmeal and continued to function until
1957. The complex still stands near the creek
which once drove the mill.
To get there, head south out of town on the
Creswick Rd and the mill can plainly be seen 1
km after crossing a bluestone bridge built in
1892. It is open Sunday afternoons or by
appointment, tel: (03) 5345 1352 or (03) 5337
0689. There isn't much inside but the scale and
the exterior are impressive and there is a
As part of the Heritage Festival (held in
March or April), a jazz music performance is
held annually at the mill.
Another historic feature near town is Smeaton
House. One of the state's earliest substantial
homesteads, this two-storey stuccoed brick
Regency mansion was built in 1849-50 for the
settlement's founder, John Hepburn. He now lies
in the small private family cemetery nearby
which is fenced and surrounded by trees.
Smeaton House is privately owned but can
plainly be seen from the roadside without
intruding upon the privacy of the proprietors.
To get there head north out of town on the main
road (to Castlemaine) and take the first right
into Estates Lane.
Tuki Trout Fishing and Farming Complex
Also to the north of town is the Tuki Trout
Fishing and Farming Complex where you can catch
your own fish amidst the parklike surroundings
of the 'Stoney Rises' farm, established in the
1850s. Smoked trout and pate are also available.
There are woolshed tours, sheep shearing demos,
working sheep dogs and stock horses in action,
hands-on lamb feeding, a licensed gallery
restaurant, a kiosk, picnic-barbecue areas, wool
products, souvenirs and cottage accommodation.
It is open from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. daily
and at evenings by appointment, tel: (03) 5345
6233. To get there head north towards
Campbelltown for 7 km and watch for the
signposted turnoff to the right.
Those favouring a more freelance approach to
fishing can try Bulloorook Creek.
22 km north-east of Smeaton is Yandoit which
retains some old stone fences and two-storey
houses with stone chimneys from the days when
Swiss-Italian farmers settled in the area in the
mid-19th century, selling dairy produce and
wines to the goldminers. Their descendants still
live in the area.