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Pyrenees region

typical rolling hills of the Pyrenees wine district in central west Victoria

all images on this website are copyright Gary Ayton 2006

The Pyrenees:

  • Pyrenee grazing and winery region with its signature grape being the Shiraz
  • although vineyards were 1st grown in late 1800's, the depressions of the 1890's and 1930's together with the 2 world wars largely over-ride wine making until the 1960's.
  • pleasant rural drive through rolling hills between the Pyrenee Range to the north and Mt Cole State Forest to the south
  • from Avoca, you can continue east through Maryborough and then onto Castlemaine
  • gold was 1st discovered in Victoria in 1849 in the Pyrenee Ranges sparking Victoria's great gold rush of the 1850's.
  • most wineries are open for visitors 10am-4.30pm
  • the northern aspects of the Pyrenees is the source of the Wimmera River which flows NW to Horsham, Dimboola and Jeparit and then into Lake Hindmarsh
  • accommodation:
    • Warrenmang - Mountain Creek Rd, Moonambel - region's 1st resort-style accommodation
    • Moonambel Cottages - FSC, spas, open fire, A/C, bushwalks, wineries
  • wineries:
  • other:
    • Mt Lonarch Gallery - manufacturers of hand-painted fine bone china


  • 26km from Maryborough
  • Thomas Mitchell was the 1st European in the area and gave it the name in 1836 after a river in Ireland.
  • discovery of gold nearby in 1852 drove its development
  • Avoca Hotel for meals
  • interesting pie cafe with all kinds of meat pies including crocodile, kangaroo, seafood, etc.
  • villages nearby include Redbank, Natte Yallock, Rathscar, Bung Bong, Lamplough, Amphitheatre, Percydale, Moonambel, and Warrenmang
  • cool climate wines:
      • lovely red wines plus cafe (lunch on weekends)
      • en route to the nearby the Pyrenees State Forest “Waterfalls Picnic Area” and Percydale Historic Area (gold mining area)
        • waterfall valley walk track 1km, 20min return - but water only flows after significant rains and not too exciting without the water!
        • start of the 18km, 13hr one-way Pyrenees Endurance Walk
        • drive to a lookout over the Avoca region



  • historic gold mining region 23km north of Maryborough
  • the largest gold nugget in the world, the 69 kilogram “Welcome Stranger”, was found in nearby Moliagul 15km to the north where there is a Moliagul Historic Reserve marking the area
  • lovely cafe for sandwiches
  • a couple of antique shops
  • numerous heritage buildings and lovely historic almost ghost towns make it a must see town
  • nearby old gold towns of Tarnagulla, Bealiba, Waanyarra, Betley and Goldsborough
    • west:
      • Bealiba Ranges
      • Goldsborough
      • Tunstall State Forest
    • north:
      • Melville Caves bushranger hideaway and Kooyoora State Park:
        • hill with inumerable massive granite boulders
        • similar to the You Yangs near Geelong
        • camping ground at the top car park
        • well worth checking out and some lovely views south and west
      • Kingower
        • site of the Hand of Faith gold nugget wighing 876oz and is the largest intact nugget in the world
    • north-east:
      • Waanyarra Recreation Area:
        • pioneer cemetery, remote camping ground, Morton's Hut ruins (and old hotel) - worth a short drive
      • Tarnagulla is a lovely little gold rush town with some nice heritage buildings and quaint cottages
      • Arnold - tiny town with some nice old cottages - the gravel road to Rheola is not really worth it
      • Laanecoorie Weir - one of the oldest in Victoria - boating, fishing, camping
      • Newbridge - fishing, camping along the Loddon River
      • Bridgewater on Loddon - boating, fishing, camping
      • Inglewood


  • a nice very quiet spot to stay to allow exploration of the local “ghost towns” and heritage buildings
  • 168km NW of Melbourne, 80km N of Ballarat, 84km SW of Bendigo and 48km W of Castlemaine and thus is practically the geographic centre of the “Golden Triangle” of the gold rush era, but alas, has always been a poor cousin to Bendigo and Ballarat and still lacks industry or tourism although it should be able to attract tourists but its distance from Melbourne and substantial competition has meant this has not been realised.
  • historic gold mining town, initially settled by the Simson brothers as a sheep station called Charlotte Plains in the 1840's when the squatters took up grazing runs throughout Victoria
  • gold was discovered in 1854 as part of the Victorian Gold Rush which led to the development of the township and population is said to have hit 30,000-50,000 and now sits around 7,000 and is consistently ranked as the most socially disadvantaged local government area in Victoria although this ranking is perhaps because it has no pockets of wealth to help mask the poverty as do most other areas. Perhaps only 6 or so houses had been notable for their wealth (such as the lovely Federation Edwardian styled Hadenham house which is available for holiday rental).
    • land sales commenced in 1856
    • rail arrived in 1874
    • flour mill opened in 1881
    • new town hall built in 1887
    • the last gold mine closed in 1918
    • Maryborough was threatened with abandonment but the development of the woolen industry saved it, unlike the many local towns which soon became ghost towns when the gold ran out.
  • the Maryborough Knitting Mills opened in 1924 establishing the town as a centre for the wool industry which peaked in the 1960's until manufacturing gradually moved overseas ant=d it was delisted from the ASX in 1978, leaving Maryborough with little employment and further severely exacerbated by the Kennett Government's decision to stop the train service in the early 1990's.
  • 1890's Maryborough Railway Station, in 2007, it underwent a $1.2 million upgrade to conduct vital repairs to the historic bell tower, clock and roof and train services to Melbourne via Ballarat recommenced in 2010
    • In 1895 American writer Mark Twain visited the town and remarked about the station upon his visit.
      • “Don't you overlook that Maryborough station, if you take an interest in governmental curiosities. Why, you can put the whole population of Maryborough into it, and give them a sofa apiece, and have room for more. You haven't fifteen stations in America that are as big, and you probably haven't five that are half as fine. Why, it's perfectly elegant. And the clock! Everybody will show you the clock. There isn't a station in Europe that's got such a clock. It doesn't strike–and that's one mercy. It hasn't any bell; and as you'll have cause to remember, if you keep your reason, all Australia is simply bedamned with bells.”
  • despite attempts by council and government since 2007 to breathe life back into Maryborough, in 2014, it seems it may be too little, too late to break the cycle of poverty, economic rationalism, and years of lack of vision for the city
  • hosts a market on the first and third Sunday of each month
  • Maryborough Flour Mill gallery - closed due to building safety issues
  • Worsley Cottage museum - worth seeing, very interesting
  • Maryborough Central Goldfields Art Gallery - in the old fire station
  • Maryborough Highland Gathering - festival each New Year's Day
  • gold mining relics:
    • Paddys Ranges State Park
    • Timor (ghost town 9km to N):
      • once had population 27,000 with 38 pubs, last closed in 1960's, and the General Store has recently closed as well
      • ruins of Grand Duke gold mine arch
        • between 1869-1896, produced 216,054oz of gold ($281m worth today)
        • 1st and largest Cornish beam pump in Victoria extracted 2000 gallons of water from the mine shaft per minute! 4 mine shafts with deepest down to 110m and employed 150 men.
      • early 1900's portable 3 ton Timor Police Lock-Up
    • Majorca ghost town 11km to the south-east
      • Hanoverian deep lead of gold resulted in landscape littered with hundreds of wooden poppet heads
      • old racecourse now a nice walk amongst river red gums
    • Carisbrook to the east
      • Brittania Hotel for meals
      • historic buildings - Masonic Lodge, old log gaol (1852), Junction Lodge bluestone homestead
      • Carisbrook Country Retreat
      • Lochinver Farm accommodation
      • Tullaroop Reservoir - picnic area but no public access to weir or water
      • Cairn Curran Reservoir


  • in January 1849, an ex-convict called Thomas Chapman found a 38 ounce gold nugget in Daisy Creek (7 km from Talbot) while working as a shepherd, this was to spark a minor Gold Rush which authorities had been trying to keep quiet to avoid lawlessness invading the land. The main gold rush only commenced in 1851 after the law was changed allowing miner's to own the gold as long as they paid a miner's licence (formerly, any gold found was deemed property of the Crown).
  • 1st major rush to the Talbot region was in Dec 1852 and by 1855, some 6,000 were mining the area known as Back Creek, but most left by end of 1857, but another find in 1859, led to 50,000 miners coming in with an open cut mine 15 metres deep, 45 metres wide and 650 metres long being created in the 1860's - along the Scandinavian Crescent which became the main street of Talbot and at the time had around 50 pubs!
  • it was renamed Talbot in 1861 but by mid-1860's, population had declined to around 3,000-4,000 and only 16 pubs. By 1880, the mines had closed, and population dwindled to 1,300 by end of the century.
  • a devastating bushfire in Jan 1985 destroyed 1000 of the region, although most of Talbot's historic buildings survived, by 2000, Talbot was on the verge of becoming a ghost town.
  • now a quiet gold rush town
  • farmers markets on the third Sunday of every month
  • heritage buildings
  • Aboriginal Shelter Tree - 700 yr old river red gum (heritage listed)
  • walks:
      • 15min drive from Talbot, the biggest quartz reef remaining in Victoria
      • 40 tonne boulder in an area rich in wildflowers
    • Majorca Racecourse
      • no longer a racecourse, nice walk amongst 500 yr old red gums
  • nearby ghost towns:
    • Majorca
    • Amherst


  • Wedderburn:
    • moderate size gold rush town but very few heritage buildings remain and probably not worth the drive
    • there is a RV friendly camping ground at the Gold Battery relics which may be of interest
  • St Arnaud
    • gold rush era town 88km NW of Maryborough (accessible via Dunolly route or via Avoca route) and 62km north of Avoca, passing the Kara Kara State Park and the Greenock Historical Area
    • Pioneer Park (believed to be Australia's only remaining public park designed by Edna Walling




australia/vic/pyrenees.txt · Last modified: 2022/05/30 20:48 by gary1

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