Set against the backdrop of the Grampians mountain range, Stawell is a picturesque town with a rich history in gold mining. In 1857 the big gold rush hit Stawell attracting between 25,000 to 30,000 people. It lasted just two years and the diggers dwiddled off in search of gold in other fields. However, the Quartz Reefs, situated along the foot of Bill Hill, continued to offer a reliable source of gold – but excavation machinery was required. Mining companies were established and huge amounts of gold were extracted and great fortunes made. By the 1920's the mines had closed. This wasn't to be the end of gold in Stawell though. In the 1980's mining resumed and continues today.
Central Park, StawellStawell is also famed for the Stawell Gift, the oldest and richest footrace in Australia. It is run over three days during Easter (18-21 April, 2014) and offers entertainment for the whole family, including fashion parades for best dressed and activities for the kids (jumping castle, face painting, baby animal nursery, Little Athletics Clinic and children's entertainers).
The Stawell Visitor Centre is located in Lower Main St, Stawell, Victoria
Phone: (03) 5358 2314, or 1800 330 080
The Grampians Travel Centre – Stawell
The centre provides visitors with up-to-date information on attractions and sights. Besides the Stawell Gift and it's state-of-the-art shooting complex, other attractions of Stawell include the Ironbark Forest, Cato Park, Central Park, Big Hill Lookout, art galleries, the Leisure Centre with a rock climbing wall, cafés, pubs and charming historic buildings.
There is also a monthly farmers' market with local produce, livestock, arts and craft. Held the last Sunday of each month (October third Sunday, December twilight market third Friday) at the Stawell Showgrounds, Patrick Street. Open from 10am - 2pm.
Venus Pools, Halls Gap, VictoriaStawell is ideally situated for the nature lover. It is just 27km from the Grampians National Park and Halls Gap, the park's tourist village. The Grampians' spectacular rock formations provide wonderful walks and hikes ranging from the easy to the extremely challenging.
For a list of walks check out Tourism Victoria's website.
The Grampians attracts rock climbers from all over the globe for its incredible sandstone rocky walls and amazing views. If you have a passion for climbing and haven't been to the Grampians yet, it's time to treat yourself. If you've always wanted to try it or are moving from indoor climbs to outdoor, contact one of the acredited adventure companies offering group climbs.
Note, the whole Grampians area is a national park so shooting is illegal.
Be sure to visit Halls Gap Zoo. It has an extensive range of both native and exotic exhibits, including meerkats, giraffe and a red panda to name a few.
Lake Londsdale is a 20 minute drive from Stawell. It's a scenic waterway offering free camping in designated areas, swimming, water skiing and fishing. Enjoy nature walks and wildlife watching. There are koalas, wallabies, birds, emus and kangaroos.
It's also a great spot for duck hunting. The season opens in Victoria on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 7.10am and closes half an hour after sunset on Monday, June 9, 2014.
The Grampians region is also renown for its wineries, and in particular its Grampians Estate Wineryaward winning shiraz. When you come to Stawell, visit neighbouring Great Western (10 minutes drive) for cellar door tastings and a cheese platter at Best's Winery, Seppelt's or Grampians Estate. Grampians Estate (pictured right) currently has its elegant cool-climate Shiraz and a delightful sparkling Shiraz available. Oh, I forgot to mention their coffee... they serve up a great espresso.