GREATEST DRIVING TOURS AND HERITAGE TOWNS
Point and Jamieson
WHY GO: a winding road through the ranges beyond Warburton reveals
tall-timbered forests, sleepy hamlets and postcard scenery.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: about 450km to Jamieson and back
TIME: driving time of around 7 hours plus sightseeing and personal
ROUTE: take Maroondah Hwy to Lilydale, Warburton Hwy through
Warburton then continue on the Woods Point Road. At Cambarville
turn right and head to Woods Point and Jamieson. Much of this
latter road is unsealed and winds through the ranges, so care
should be taken.
WHAT TO DO: Head out of town to Warburton and make sure you stop
for morning tea here, for the next part of the journey is a long
and winding road with no shops until you reach Woods Point. A
good idea is to load up with picnic fare from a local bakery and
wait for one of the scenic spots in the hills thirty minutes away.
The sealed road through the Yarra Ranges climbs steadily into
cool eucalypt-scented forests, so wind down your windows - and
your speed - and enjoy the ride.
At the road junction near Cambarville you could turn left for
a look at the old sawmilling settlement, but tarry not for the
next part of the journey brings better sights. Turning towards
Woods Point, the road eventually runs out of bitumen and the surface
is gravelled and dusty, as well as corrugated in places. Watch
for scenic lookouts along the way, and wildlife such as wombats,
lyre-birds, wallabies and parrots.
You could easily drive through Wood’s Point. Blink at the
wrong time, and you’ll miss the (now) much photographed
wooden shack with the petrol pump. As the crow flies, Wood’s
Point is only a hundred and ten kilometres from Melbourne, but
it might as well be a world away.
In the 1860s, thousands flocked to this rugged mountain region
in the hope of finding a fortune in the river gravels. There were “gold nuggets as common as currents in a pudding,” reported a miner of the time.
A tent city grew here, on the Goulburn River headwaters, as dense
forests of mountain ash and blackbutt were felled for mine races,
sluices and tunnel shoring. Within months, slab huts and houses
were built, huge waterwheels washed the sluices, and stamper batteries
thumped a continuous echo through the surrounding hills.
Woods Point’s fortunes waned by the turn of the century,
as the gold became hard-won. The end of an era came with the 1939
bushfires which destroyed all but a few buildings; women and children
sheltered under the bridge, and even then, some got burned as
fierce heat liquefied the bitumen surface and it dripped through
the wooden planks. From the ashes, a new, smaller settlement arose.
The road continues along the valley of the Upper Goulburn through
A-1, Gaffneys Creek and Kevington before the relative civilisation
of Jamieson is reached. Settled more as a supply base for the
mines, in 1861 the town had “stores, hotels, dance houses,
billiard saloons and all the collaterals of a new gold rush -
the town had come to stay,” but the predictions were not
indulged. Gold yield declined by the early 1900s; within 50 years
Jamieson’s glory days were well and truly over.
Jamieson’s remaining historic buildings and quiescent streets
are a gentle hint of more vital days. Now, only two pubs, a general
store, a few public buildings and homes face the town’s
streets. Take the time to look around: start your town tour at
the old Courthouse built in 1864 and now a museum. One of the
fascinating items on display is an original "Ned Kelly - wanted"
poster, complete with holes were it was nailed to a tree.
The return trip, if you have time, can be via another winding
forest road to Eildon, or the faster route through Mansfield and
Yea to Melbourne.
EATING AND DRINKING: make sure you refuel body and vehicle at
Warburton for the long drive to Woods Point, where the Miller’s
general store or the pub are the choices before heading towards
A1 Mining Settlement and finally Jamieson where pubs, Jamieson
Brewery, and general store offer food. Mansfield has all the trappings
of a tourist town, including good dining at the Magnolia or Bernasconi
Wombat Hills Cottages, Tolmie near Mansfield. Self
contained stone cottages - luxury!
Buttercup Cottages, Merrijig near Mansfield. More self-contained
©Peter Robinson 2007 all rights reserved
see my images at www.australianplaces.net
For the past
25 years Peter Robinson has travelled far and wide but Australia,
being home, is his first love. As an experienced travel writer
and professional photographer, his wealth of knowledge is revealed
in travel and accommodation reviews that have freelance integrity
and honesty. The main focus of this site is to present brief reviews
of a select group of places to stay for the weekend. Each place
has been visited at least once and evaluated for high standards
before inclusion - and after reviewing over 600 places Peter has
done the hard work so you can enjoy Great