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Beechworth: A Scenic Escape in Gold Rush Country
In the 1850s, the small town of Beechworth rose to prominence amidst Victoria’s gold rush. Today, reminders of Beechworth’s prospecting past are everywhere, from gold-paved paths underfoot to colonial era, heritage-listed buildings on either side of Ford Street.
Visitors to Beechworth can delve into the region’s history or simply unwind at one of the award-winning restaurants with a glass of local wine. Set in Victoria’s scenic High Country, you won’t be far from the Rail Trail, waterfalls and national parks.
Holiday rentals in Beechworth abound, from leafy cottages to modern retreats steps from the town centre.
Food and Wine in Beechworth
Foodies and craft beer enthusiasts unite in Beechworth, with its array of award-winning restaurants, food and wine events and breweries scattered around town. If you’re up for some fine dining, make a reservation at Provenance, celebrity chef Michael Ryan’s new restaurant.
To discover Beechworth’s surrounds and sample local wines, take part in a vineyard tour or head over to one of the many cellar doors on your own. Regional cool weather wines include chardonnay and pinot noir.
If you’re visiting Beechworth in May, you’ll be able to attend some of the High Country Harvest Festival’s 40+ events. Mingle with local producers and sample craft beer, wine and local dishes.
Restaurants in town often boast an impressive wine list with many local wines and beer. For earlier in the day, cafes can be found primarily along Camp and Ford Streets, at the heart of town. Meanwhile, Bridge Road Brewers host many craft beer related events throughout the year.
Relive Beechworth’s Gold Rush History
One of the first things you might notice in Beechworth are the gold paved paths. These have been around since the 1850s, attesting to the town’s gold rush era importance. Today, 30+ National Trust Buildings remain, dating back to middle of the 19th century.
Wander along Ford Street for many different gold rush era buildings, including banks, storefronts and private homes. Some of the most visited heritage buildings include the old gaol, where you can learn about the infamous gangster Ned Kelly, Old Courthouse, built in 1858 and Post Office, built in 1870.
Prospectors came to Beechworth from far and wide to strike it rich. To find out about the gold rush story through the eyes of Chinese immigrants, visit the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum.
For a more gruesome side of history, head to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum for ghost tours after dark. During the day, you can join a history or photography tour in the asylum’s expansive gardens. For more thrills and chills, watch a horror film onsite.
Beechworth is considered a scenic holiday retreat. Start off at Beechworth Historic Park and wander around the trails leading to Beechworth Gorge. This is an easy 5 km walk for the whole family. Bush walks sprout off from this trail.
Next, make your way from Lake Kerfed to Lake Sambell, where you’ll be able to see a number of bird species and animals. The park was once an important mining site, with old shafts throughout it.
A short drive from Beechworth is Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, home to the well known Woolshed Falls and Spring Creek, once the heart of the area’s gold rush. Head to a lookout over the falls or walk along the rocks in the creek where gold miners once worked.
If you’re visiting Beechworth in the fall you will be privy to colourful leaf displays. Year-round, bike along the Rail Trail’s Beechworth branch to take in rolling hills and greenery. The path is downhill from Beechworth, so keep this in mind for the way back!
Beechworth Festivals and Events
If you’re in town in October, you’ll have the chance to see Beechworth’s own take on Oktoberfest, where local beers star. During the Celtic Festival in November, there are events for the whole family, including markets, poetry readings, dance competitions and Highland bands marching throughout town.
In January, Beechworth Music Festival celebrates the Australia Day Long Weekend, featuring local alternative bands. At the same time, Opera in the Alps showcases Australian operatic talent during an outdoor concert on the lawn of Beechworth’s golf course.
Beechworth is the setting for a variety of markets. Farmers markets take place most weekends. The Country Craft Market is a recurring event, taking place throughout the year and in conjunction with major festivals.
Getting to Beechworth
Beechworth is a 2.5 hour drive from Melbourne and a 6.5 hour drive from Sydney. If you don’t have access to a car, you can take a train and bus combination from Melbourne, reaching town in 4.5 hours. You can also fly from Sydney to Albury, and take a regional bus to complete the journey.