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The historic township of Beechworth, is located in the rural area in North East Victoria. Despite the size of this small town (~3,900 resident) it has quite a long, interesting and exciting history.
From a bustling town in the height of the Gold Rush to the court house where Ned Kelly stood trial to the trendy Wineries and Cideries that dot the town today and the beautiful nature reserves that surround the area.
There are plenty of things to do in Beechworth to plan the perfect day trip or perhaps a nice weekend away.
So, are you ready for the perfect itinerary for things to do in Beechworth, Victoria?
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- 1 Beechworth, The Goldrush and The Kelly Gang
- 2 Getting to Beechworth
- 3 Where to stay in Beechworth
- 4 Check out the best things to do in Beechworth
- 4.1 Stroll along Ford Street
- 4.2 Visit the Old Beechworth Gaol
- 4.3 Join the Kelly Gang at the Ned Kelly Vaults
- 4.4 Step into Harry Power’s Cell
- 4.5 Stand trial at the Court House
- 4.6 Time travel in the Robert O’Hara Burke Memorial Museum
- 4.7 Stock up on sweets at the lolly shop
- 4.8 Taste Beechworth Honey
- 4.9 Taste some local brews at Bridge Road Brewers
- 4.10 Catch gold fever at the Beechworth Gold Gift Shop
- 4.11 Grab a treat at the famous Beechworth Bakery
- 4.12 Do(n’t) go chasing waterfalls at Woolshed Falls
- 5 When to visit Beechworth
- 6 How long to spend in Beechworth
- 7 My BEST Travel Resources
Beechworth, The Goldrush and The Kelly Gang
Gold was discovered in the same town of Beechworth at Spring Creek in February, 1952. Within 11 months 8,000 prospective gold hunters turned up in Beechworth turning Beechworth into quite the bustling hub.
The wealth that was built during the Gold Rush resulted in Beechworth being built and many of these buildings still stand today.
By 1857, over 20,000 from around the globe had made Beechworth home enabling a bank, school, hotels, a prison, churches, shops and a hospital. This small rural spot was turned into a bustling regional center.
Beechworth remains the most well preserved Gold mining town, with 32 of the buildings listed in the National Trust.
Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous Bush Ranger, has strong ties to Beechworth. In fact, there are many tributes to the Kelly Gang around Beechworth today, including a walking tour but more on that later.
If Ned Kelly interests you, you might want to attend the Annual Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend. It is held on the first weekend of August every year.
Back to Ned Kelly! Ned took the stand in the Beechworth Courthouse in August of 1880. Kelly was held in the Beechworth Gaol and charged in the Courthouse on three robbery charges.
Getting to Beechworth
Beechworth is accessible via the Vline train and the bus. The train to Wangaratta departments Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station three times a day and takes just under 3 hours.
From Wangaratta you can take the bus into the center of town to the corner of Ford Street and Camp Street. The bus trip takes half an hour and departs three times a day.
More information can be found on the V/Line website
Beechworth is approximately a three hour drive north of Melbourne. From Melbourne you head north on the Hume Highway and take the B500 exit towards Beechworth/Bright.
If you are interested in Ned Kelly, you might choose to stop in at Glenrowan on the way, check out the place of the “Last Stand” and the HUGE Ned Kelly statue.
If you’re planning on visiting Beechworth on the way from Sydney to Melbourne, Beechworth is approximately 7 hours from Sydney and 4 and a half hours from Canberra.
If you are visiting and do not have a car, it is very easy to hire a car from both Melbourne and Sydney. The drive to Beechworth (from Melbourne or Sydney) is mostly highways and very easy. Just remember, to drive on the LEFT!
Where to stay in Beechworth
Beechworth is a beautiful town with many gorgeous cottages and some beautiful hotels, it is hard to go wrong with Beechworth accommodation.
However, here are some of my recommendations of places you could consider when booking accommodation:
Spring Creek Cottage is located in central Beechworth and is perfect for a weekend away. The backyard runs onto a small shallow creek and has the homely feel with a wood fire heater. Spring Creek Cottage has everything you need to make this place feel like your home away from home.
1860 Luxury Cabin makes for a great couples get away. As the name suggests, this historic timber cabin was built in the 1860’s, but don’t worry, it has been restored since!
The 1860 Luxury Cabin has all of the modern comforts, a King sized bed and open fire. The Cabin is a 5 minute walk from the center of Beechworth and over looks Spring Creek.
If you’re travelling on a budget or you’d like to stay in one place for a while there are often House Sits available. In country Victoria house stays are often in unique places such as Hobby farms and do involve looking after some animals!
Check out the best things to do in Beechworth
Stroll along Ford Street
I’ll let you in on a secret, this photo is actually taken looking down Camp street but you can see Ford Street crossing Camp Street at the roundabout.
Ford street is lined with 19th century gold rush era buildings, foot paths covered with verandas and is in fact, one of the best preserved towns in Victoria.
Stroll along the street taking in the beauty of this rural Victorian town and check out some of the old cars in the garage at the top of the street.
You will be hard pressed to find a more photogenic town in Victoria, perhaps even Australia.
Visit the Old Beechworth Gaol
Built on Beechworth’s first stockade site between 1859 and 1864. Construction of the goal was constructed between 1857 and 1864.
The Beechworth Gaol was opened in 1860 and held up to 132 prisoners. The Gaol was open and operating up until 2004 – I can still remember walking passed the Gaol yelling out to the prisoners on our Grade 6 school camp.
The Beechworth Gaol is famous for one of it’s most notable prisoners – Ned Kelly. Where he served 6 months in 1870-1871 and again during his committal trial for murder in 1880.
These days, the Beechworth Gaol is open for the public and tours operate daily from 11 am – 1 pm. Tickets for tours cost $14 per adult, $10 for students/concessions and $40 for families. Children under 6 are FREE.
The cafe is open from 10 am – 2 pm and a great place to relax by the fire in the winter or cool down with a drink in the summer.
Join the Kelly Gang at the Ned Kelly Vaults
If you are a Ned Kelly fan or interested in outlaws and bush rangers in general then this is the place for you. Although the newly opened Ned Kelly Vaults are rather small, it is still a very interesting visit and houses much of the Kelly gangs memorabilia.
If you’re a fan of the late Heath Ledger you’ll notice his helmet from 2003 film “Ned Kelly”.
The building which houses the The Ned Kelly Vault was built in 1856 and was originally used during the gold rush to store gold.
Tickets to The Ned Kelly Vault is part of the Burke museum ticket and can be bought at the information center or the Burke museum.
Step into Harry Power’s Cell
Harry Power is another famous Bush Ranger who has made several appearance in the historic Beechworth Court House. He was sent out from England to Australia as convict and lived a good life until he was wrongly accused of stealing a horse.
This accusation led him to shooting two German soldiers. He fled, but was eventually captured and he went on to become one of the most famous Bush Rangers.
The cell you can see today, is the cell that housed Power on many occasions below the Court House.
Stand trial at the Court House
Unlike most courthouses that are open to visitors, you are free to fully explore the courthouse, there are no ropes or “do not enter” signs.
So why not stand in the witness box or sit in the judges seat. View the court house from the jurors box.
It is well worth heading downstairs and sitting in the holding cells while listing to the stories of those prisoners who have been held in these cells.
The court house is open seven days a week from 10 am until 5 pm – the last admission is at 4:30 pm. Tickets be purchased from the Courthouse of the Information center.
Time travel in the Robert O’Hara Burke Memorial Museum
Robert O’Hara Burke was the superintendent in Beechworth before he embarked on the “Burke and Wills” expedition. The museum houses a large range of Australian memorabilia, especially from the 19th century and the gold rush era.
Explore a mock-up of shop fronts and streets from a by-gone era. Walking around the mock-up street and peeking into the shop fronts is like going back in time.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum (these tickets can be used again at the Ned Kelly Vaults) or from the visitor centers.
Stock up on sweets at the lolly shop
One of my favourite things to do in Beechworth is to visit the Beechworth Lolly Shop. From typical Australian Lolly’s to international sweets, there is a wide range of lolly’s and definitely something for everyone.
It is very popular on most people’s “Things to do in Beechworth” list and can get very busy so I suggest going earlier in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Taste Beechworth Honey
Beechworth Honey has been produced in Beechworth for four generations. They continue today to produce Honey from 100% Australian Bees with over 30 species.
The Beechworth Honey shop is open 7 days a week from 9 am until 5:30 pm. The Bee School offers daily and weekend programs. Programs are available on the blackboard in the court yard of the honey shop.
You must book if you would like to access the honey archive. In order to access the honey archive you must make a gold coin donation which goes to support the bees.
For more information about the Beechworth Honey you can check out their website
Taste some local brews at Bridge Road Brewers
The Bridge Road Brewers is a great place for lunch or dinner. It is a very relaxed environment and has a beautiful fire for the winter time. Grab a pizza and try some local brews.
Sitting outside with a few drinks is a great way to spend a summer afternoon with locals and tourists alike.
Catch gold fever at the Beechworth Gold Gift Shop
The Beechworth Gold Gift Shop is not just a shop but its also a tribute to the gold history in Beechworth. From original photos and information on the gold rush.
You can visit the Gold Vaults and see if you can find your family names, or see the gold horse shoes the huge gold nugget and the beautiful gemstone gallery.
Of course, you can shop some of the beautiful jewelry, from gold to gemstone and opal necklaces, earrings, necklaces just to name a few.
Grab a treat at the famous Beechworth Bakery
A visit to the Beechworth Bakery should be at the top of your list of things to do in Beechworth.
The pies and sausages are to die for and they have some of the most amazing cakes. With plenty of seating inside, upstairs out on the veranda or on the street , you will find yourself feeling very welcome to grab a meal.
Again, the Bakery gets very busy so I suggest try to avoid typical meal times and grab and early or late lunch or even pop in to grab some take away an go and enjoy it in the park.
Here in Victoria the Beechworth bakery is well known and for good reason. In fact, the Beechworth Bakery has expanded to to Bendigo and Healsville!
Do(n’t) go chasing waterfalls at Woolshed Falls
We have made it to the end of our list of things to do in Beechworth but have we saved the best for last?
Located 6 minutes from the center of Beechworth you will find the Woolshed falls. The Woolshed falls are located within the Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National park. The falls are located less than 100 m from the car park which makes them easily accessible no matter your fitness levels.
If you walk left from the car park you can reach the upper viewing platform and see the falls in all their glory. If you prefer you can follow the path straight from the car park and scramble over the rocks and get a closer view of the falls.
I recommend grabbing a picnic or a treat from the bakery and having lunch while overlooking the falls.
During the gold rush the falls were a bustling place with up to 8,000 people searching the pools around the falls for gold. The falls were once the center of the richest gold fields in Victoria and nearly 57kg of gold was found in the Woolshed Falls pools between 1918 and 1920.
These days, there are many walks available around the national park and the falls so you could easily spend a day exploring the area.
However, if you are short on time and you drive straight to the car park you can spend half an hour or less and you will still be able to enjoying the falls and the incredible views.
When to visit Beechworth
Beechworth is beautiful any time of year. In the autumn the leaves turn into gorgeous bright colours and contrast beautifully with the buildings and Spring is stunning when the flowers are are starting to bloom.
During the summer it can get very hot and dry in Beechworth, but if you love the heat then this is the perfect time to visit. Winter is generally the quieter season as it does get chilly but there are still plenty of things to do in Beechworth in the winter.
How long to spend in Beechworth
As Beechworth is 3 hours from Melbourne it will be approximately 6 hour round trip, not to mention spending a few hours in Beechworth so I suggest you plan on an overnight stay …. if not escaping for a weekend.
Most of the attractions on the list of things to do in Beechworth are all within walking distance of each other and the falls are just that little bit further out of town, so two days should be plenty of time.
However, if you are in Beechworth longer than two days there are plenty of walks around the area and a few wineries (check out the Indigo Vineyard, on the Melbourne side of Beechworth) and the Information Center is great place to check out!
Have you been to Beechworth? What are your favourite things to do in Beechworth? Let me know in the comments below …
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My BEST Travel Resources
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