GREATEST DRIVING TOURS AND HERITAGE TOWNS
WHY: follow a Gold Rush route north of Ballarat to one of the State’s most beautiful railway stations.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: Maryborough is 165km from Melbourne.
TIME: as little as 5 hours, but allow a full day depending on sightseeing stops along the way.
ROUTE: Western Fwy M8 to Creswick turnoff several kilometres before Ballarat, continuing north on the C291 to Creswick then Clunes, Talbot and finally Maryborough. Alternative return via the Pyenees Hwy B180 to Castlemaine, then Calder Fwy M79 takes about the same time.
ON THE WAY: If town halls are anything to go by, the grandiose but redundant one at Creswick shows the town was once fairly important. Crewick streets show ample evidence of 19th Century architecture; compare it with the older Clunes streetscape (where scenes for a recent Ned Kelly movie were shot) and further along, Talbot.
WHAT TO DO: Maryborough’s main drain holds more historic significance than visitor fascination: the town’s Phillips Gardens hosts the long, stone-faced drain, one of Victoria’s earliest examples of public work constructed with convict labour. Autumn leaves show Maryborough has no shortage of deciduous trees planted a century ago, when residents chose a European arboreal display.
Those lured by early colonial architecture should head straight for the railway station to admire its impressive Dutch gables, tall clocktower and broad sheltered platform. Mark Twain is reputed to have said “Maryborough is a railway station with a town attached.” Built in 1892, it was intended to be an enduring expression of grandeur for the budding colony, as well as a main rail centre. It’s also rumoured that the design was originally intended as Spencer Street Station in Melbourne.
While recently closed, for more than a decade, the beautiful railway station became home to an antique emporium, art gallery, wood-work gallery and café. In July 2010, the station once again welcomed trains which now connect to Melbourne with a regular daily service.
During the week Maryborough’s business centre is surprisingly busy, its contemporary trappings blending with preserved architectural heritage. Well maintained façades of pubs like the Bull and Mouth, and some defunct banks, mingle with craft and antique shops – some of which are open over weekends.
Recently opened is the Maryborough Flour Mill Gallery which has a sewing machine musuem and local art and craft on display see: www.maryboroughflourmillgallery.com.au AustralianPlaces hasn't been there yet but will do when next in town.
MacLandress Square features an impressive 1870 Post Office, town hall and courthouse. Also worth visiting are Worsley Cottage (one of the town’s oldest houses), the old Fire Station (now a regional art complex), and Bristol Hill Tower (via Raglan Street) which provides great views over town – if you have kids with the you then this park with playground is the place for a picnic lunch.
Graziers and squatters originally settled the region, but Maryborough grew courtesy of gold mining during the frenzied 1850s Gold Rush when 53,000 people were camped on the digs. Decades of deep lead mining, something that neighbouring Dunolly, Talbot and Moliagul lacked, drove the optimism for the town’s consolidation.
Evidence of the district’s earliest inhabitants, the Djajowurrong tribe, can be seen south of Maryborough. The rock water wells, off Shoreham Drive south of town, are regarded as one of the best examples of aboriginal rock water wells in Victoria. In other places, the scarred trunks of “canoe trees” can be seen.
EATING AND DRINKING: Creswick, Clunes and Talbot have cafés, bakeries or general stores for morning tea on the way – the best choice being Clunes. Maryborough’s choice on Sundays is limited to a couple of cafés and some hearty pub lunches, but you can get a good coffee! Wine buffs can visit Tipperary Hill Estate at Alma, 5.5km from town, where shiraz, pinot and cabernet sauvignon wines are cellared, and there’s a restaurant (bookings required, phone 5461 3312).
©PETER ROBINSON 2010
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