Local Escapes

7 Victorian Ghost Towns You Probably Didn’t Know About

By Ben Tyers
24th Jul 2019

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that ghosts are creepy as hell. Ghost towns on the other hand, they’re pretty interesting—providing the ghosts keep their distance.

The Victorian gold rush of the late-1800s saw towns come and go in a heartbeat as people rushed from all around the country to seek their fortune.

These newcomers settled on the traditional land of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Gunaikurnai, Taunguruing, Wadawurrung, and Yorta Yorta peoples. And today, the descendants of those people help preserve the history of these locations. Places where dreams were made, and broken in the same breath.

There are more than 3,000 historic places and objects across Victoria that Parks Victoria maintains, many of them just a short drive from Melbourne.

It’s definitely time to think about that next road trip.

Steiglitz Historic Area

Brisbane Ranges

In the late 1800s, Steiglitz had a population of more than 1500 people, today, however, less than 10 live in the town.

There’s plenty left to look at though, with two churches, a former hotel, blacksmith’s cottage, and the courthouse remaining.

There’s plenty of bushwalking nearby, a picnic area, and the nearby creek which you can pan for gold in.

For more information, click here.
How far: 1-hour 15-minute drive from Melbourne

Castlemaine Diggings Heritage Park & Maldon Historic Area

Goldfields

Castlemaine is still a bustling regional town, but the nearby gold diggings are much quieter than they were during the Victorian gold rush.

The Mount Alexander Diggings Trail runs through the parks and countryside which connecting the two areas that were at the time one of the world’s richest goldfields.

Today you can still see a large intact water wheel foundation, a dredge, Chinese miner cemetery, poppet head lookout with amazing views, and many former house sites

For more information, click here.
How far: 1-hour 30-minute drive from Melbourne

Cambarville

Yarra Ranges

Stepping away from gold for a minute, and entering the lucrative industry of timber in the Yarra Ranges.

Cambarville is a former timber mill town up in the mountains where you can see the remains of houses, sawmilling equipment, plenty of old stumps, and deep cuts that still exist in trees in the area.

There’s a circuit walk that takes in one of the tallest trees on mainland Australia, a stone tunnel called Big Culvert, and the Cora Lyn Falls.

The area is also where the Leadbeaters possum was rediscovered after having been declared extinct 40 years earlier.

For more information, click here.
How far: 2 hours 30 minutes drive from Melbourne

Eldorado Historic Area

Ovens Valley

Named after the legend of El Dorado, Eldorado has a population of under 300 people and also is home to the remains of a gold dredge that can be explored.

The town also features the Eldorado Museum and Victoria’s smallest pub, the McEvoy Tavern.

For more information, click here.
How far: 3 hours drive from Melbourne

Whroo Historic Area

Goulburn Valley

The most fun town name to say on this list, Whroo was a town that was created to house the miners of the nearby Balaclava open-cut quartz reef gold mine.

There’s an extensive network of bushwalking tracks in the area where you’ll find wildflowers, wattle, remains of the mine, and more than 300 graves in the cemetery.

For more information, click here.
How far: 2 hours drive from Melbourne

Walhalla Historic Area

Gippsland

Walhalla is truly a place that is frozen in time.

There’s one road in, and one road out, and the town famously was only connected to the electricity grid in 1998.

The town features many intact and well-restored heritage buildings surrounded by walking trails, and campsites.

You can take a guided tour of the old Walhalla Gold Mine too if you don’t mind the dark.

For more information, click here.
How far: 2 hours 15-minute drive from Melbourne

Howqua Hills Historic Area

Victorian Alps

A bit of a hike out of the city, but the Howqua Hills Historic Area is well worth the trip.

Walking along the Howqua River you’ll see remains of the former mining operations including the large chimney stack.

You can also check out Fry’s Hut, which was built in the 1930s and is still as sturdy as ever. You can even stay the night there if the mood takes you.

For more information, click here.
How far: 3 hours 15-minute drive from Melbourne

To get more information on any of these sites, and learn more about their cultural significance, head to the Parks Victoria website.

Image credit: Cambarville | Visit Victoria

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