Golden Plains is renowned for its iconic festivals and open spaces.
Unearth relics of Smythesdale’s history at one of Victoria’s best preserved gold mining sites, or take a bicycle ride along the 53km Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail and pass open paddocks and eucalypt forests, native grasslands and bush alive with birds and wildflowers.
Then return again and soak up the atmosphere at the acclaimed Meredith and Golden Plains music festivals.
No matter what sort of adventure you’re looking for, there’s something for everyone here.
Don’t let the 57km distance scare you – it’s what makes the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail so popular among locals. You can start at any point along this old railway and choose your own adventure.
We highly recommend making sure you check out Nimmons Bridge. This 1850s hand-built timber trestle rail bridge is one the largest of its kind in Victoria and is the most photographed spot along the entire trail.
Take a picnic to enjoy or stop by the historic Courthouse Hotel in Smythesdale for your favourite pub meal.
While you’re in Smythesdale, don’t forget to check out the historic precinct on Brooke Street, where you can see the town’s original court house, police station, stables and the gallows from HM Prison Ballarat. A short walk and you will also discover sculptures of a Chinese family of miners which depict the stories of the region’s Chinese arrivals during the gold rush.
While you’re near Smythesdale, while not consider the 40-minute Jubilee Walk. This self-guided walk takes you past ruins and remnants of past mining operations, including the one of Victoria’s best preserved example of mining at the Jubilee Company Quartz Gold Mine.
Only 30 minutes from Ballarat, you’ll discover Devils Kitchen Geological Reserve. This reserve has spectacular basalt columns, dramatic cliff lines and the resident peregrine falcon may even be sighted.
If you’re looking for somewhere to swim, head towards the Rokewood Swimming Lagoon. There’s not a whole lot of people who know about this spot, so consider yourself one of the chosen few!
There are also a number of camping sites across the Golden Plains, including Smythesdale Gardens and Haddon Lions Park.
In Corindhap, the Avenue of Honour is a must-see. Over the last few years some of these majestic trees have reached the end of their life, but rather than chopping them down, the local community decided to keep the lower trunks intact and commissioned local artist Viktor Cebergs to transform them into sculptures depicting imagery of war.