&noscript=1" /> Exploring Victoria's Hidden Gems: 10 Offbeat Towns to Visit
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10 Most Uderrated Offbeat Hidden Gems to Visit in Victoria

18/05/2024
8 mins read
Clunes
Source: Visit Victoria

From the gold rush history of Walhalla to the book-filled streets of Clunes, these towns have special experiences ready for you to find.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip idea from Melbourne or just want to explore Victoria beyond the common tourist spots? Our guide to find 10 hidden treasures that offer a unique look into Victoria’s rich history, beautiful scenery, and cozy country feel.

Editorial Picks

Our editorial picks of the best offbeat hidden towns to visit in Victoria are:

  • For a journey back to the gold rush days: Walhalla
  • For those who love books and literature: Clunes
  • For a glimpse into Victoria’s gold mining past and lively festivals: Maldon
  • For handmade food and a beautiful rail trail experience: Timboon
  • For top-notch Shiraz and beautiful outdoor activities: Heathcote

Walhalla

If you’re itching for a slightly different day trip from Melbourne, Walhalla is your golden ticket. This town is like stepping into a time machine, with its historic buildings and the famous Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. Imagine wandering through a valley where the echoes of the gold rush still linger, and you can almost hear the clinks of pickaxes.

It’s not just about the gold though; the surrounding mountains offer trails that could keep even the most restless hikers satisfied.

And when the sun dips down, the stars come out to play in a sky so clear, you’ll swear you’re in an observatory. Walhalla’s got that perfect mix of eerie and enchanting that makes for an unforgettable escape.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 180 km east of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: March to May for cool and comfortable weather
  • Known for: Gold history and natural beauty
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/imTb7zkHQBxsntE28

Clunes

Next up, Clunes – a town where the pages of history turn with the wind. It’s the kind of place where you can saunter down the main street and feel like you’ve walked onto the set of a period film. With every step, you’re treading over the same ground that sparked the Victorian gold rush. And let’s not forget the Clunes Booktown Festival, where bookworms unite in a celebration of all things literary.

But it’s not all about the past; Clunes is alive with cafes and galleries that give it a fresh pulse. It’s a town that honors its roots while writing new chapters – a real page-turner, you could say.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 140 km northwest of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: May, during the Clunes Booktown Festival
  • Known for: Gold rush history and literary culture
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/va4p8BHxaNimh3Pc7

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Maldon

Maldon will charm your socks off with its authentic Victorian streetscape, so much so that you’ll be half-expecting a horse-drawn carriage to roll by. This town isn’t just a pretty face; it’s got the title of Australia’s first ‘Notable Town’ by the National Trust to prove it. You can spend your day poking around antique shops or taking a steam train ride that chugs right through the scenic vistas.

And for the cherry on top, Maldon throws a mean folk festival that’s as much about the toe-tapping tunes as it is about the community vibe. It’s the kind of place that invites you to kick back, relax, and maybe even strike up a conversation with a local or two.

  • How far from CBD: About 135 km northwest of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: October for the Maldon Folk Festival
  • Known for: Historic streetscapes and vibrant festivals
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/EYoCpFdQsFMZvMMd6

Yackandandah

Yackandandah, or Yack as the locals call it, is a little slice of gold rush heaven with a side of community spirit. This town is a hub for artists and musicians, and you can feel the creativity in the air. With streets lined with deciduous trees that turn a fiery red in autumn, Yackandandah is a feast for the eyes and the soul. It’s the kind of place where you can wander into a gallery and come out with a piece of local art that speaks to you, or tap your feet to some live music while sipping on a craft beer.

And when it comes to history, Yack’s got it in spades. The entire town center is classified by the National Trust, so you can expect plenty of well-preserved buildings that hark back to the 1800s. It’s a town that’s as rich in culture as it is in gold mining lore.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 285 km northeast of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Autumn for the stunning foliage or during the Yackandandah Folk Festival in March
  • Known for: Artistic community, gold mining history, and vibrant autumn colors
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/dxHkkzkVxc6GNyGV7

Loch

Loch is the kind of town that might make you want to pack up your life and move to the country. It’s a place where the pace is slow but the charm is turned all the way up. With a main street that’s straight out of a storybook, complete with cafes, a brewery, and a distillery, Loch is a foodie’s daydream. The Loch Brewery & Distillery is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates a good drop, housed in a century-old bank building that’s as full of character as the spirits they serve.

And let’s talk about the scenery – rolling green hills and fresh country air make Loch a breath of fresh air, literally. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely day trip, where you can indulge in the simple pleasures of life and leave feeling like you’ve found a hidden treasure.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 100 km southeast of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Anytime, but especially lovely in spring and autumn
  • Known for: Historic main street, Loch Brewery & Distillery, and country charm
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/pzUxcTsucKwNXkQ3A

Timboon

Timboon is perfect for anyone who loves adventure and homemade treats. It’s very close to the famous Great Ocean Road, making it a great place for people who love food. Here, you can visit the well-known Timboon Railway Shed Distillery and the nearby Timboon Ice Creamery. Picture yourself enjoying locally made whisky and then having some of the best homemade ice cream. For those who like to stay active, the Camperdown-Timboon rail trail offers beautiful bike rides through green areas, combining relaxation with adventure.

After spending the day tasting and looking around, what could be better than relaxing under the stars? The clear skies in Timboon are great for stargazing, making your visit feel even more special. It’s a place where you can enjoy every experience and make the most of every moment.

  • How far from CBD: About 217 km southwest of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Spring and autumn for mild weather and fewer crowds
  • Known for: Artisan food and beverages, scenic rail trail
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/fjrXnPWTfd3soanh6

Heathcote

Heathcote is a haven for wine lovers and outdoor adventurers. Renowned for its world-class Shiraz, this town is dotted with wineries that offer intimate tastings and stunning vineyard views. Beyond the grapevines, Heathcote’s landscape is a canvas of natural beauty, featuring the tranquil Lake Eppalock and the scenic O’Keefe Rail Trail — perfect for a day of cycling or a leisurely walk.

The town’s main street is a delightful mix of cafes and boutiques, each offering a taste of local life. Whether you’re here to sip, cycle, or soak in the natural beauty, Heathcote provides a picturesque setting to do it all.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 110 km north of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Spring and autumn for the wine harvest and vibrant foliage
  • Known for: Shiraz wine, scenic landscapes, and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/X2QndSR7Tr4dFUB28

Steiglitz

Steiglitz is what you might call a real-deal ghost town, a place where the gold rush dreams are still etched into the landscape. It’s a town that’s more than just a blip on the map; it’s a snapshot of a bygone era, where the remnants of old pubs and the courthouse tell tales of the past. For those who love a good bushwalk with a side of history, the Steiglitz Historic Park is a treasure trove. It’s the kind of place where you can kick up the dust and feel like you’ve stumbled into the 1850s, minus the petticoats and gold pans, of course.

And if you’re the type who gets a kick out of eerie, abandoned vibes, then a stroll through Steiglitz’s quiet streets will be right up your alley. Just don’t forget to bring your camera; the rustic charm of this town is seriously Insta-worthy.

  • How far from CBD: About 80 km west of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Autumn for cooler weather and fewer crowds
  • Known for: Gold rush history and ghost town atmosphere
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Vph2rJBBjsSczzfSA

Harrietville

Harrietville is your gateway to the Alpine wonders of Victoria, a cozy village that’s as picturesque as they come. Whether you’re here to hit the slopes at nearby Mount Hotham or to lace up your hiking boots for a trek up Mount Feathertop, Harrietville is the perfect base camp. In winter, it’s all about that snow life, but come the warmer months, this town transforms into a hiker’s paradise with trails that offer some seriously jaw-dropping views.

And when you’re not adventuring in the great outdoors, Harrietville’s got you covered with its quaint cafes and local produce. It’s a place where you can unwind by the river with a picnic, or if you’re feeling a bit more active, take a dip in the Tronoh dredge hole. Harrietville is a little gem that shines all year round, offering a slice of Alpine magic that’s hard to resist.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 320 km northeast of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Winter for snow sports and summer for hiking and outdoor activities
  • Known for: Proximity to ski resorts, stunning Alpine scenery, and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/TFTvXsfFzCiRj1dE9

Dunolly

Dunolly, a town famous for its history with gold, offers visitors a chance to see more than just Victoria’s rich past. This town was known for the huge gold nuggets found during the gold rush. Today, Dunolly is filled with historical places and antique stores for people to explore. Its wide streets with lots of trees encourage visitors to take a look at the town’s beautiful buildings and learn about its history.

For those who like cycling, the Dunolly Cycle Tracks offer a fun way to see the nearby nature and historical spots. It’s a place where the love for history and fun activities come together, making it an ideal spot for people who enjoy learning about the past and those looking for an adventure.

  • How far from CBD: About 175 km northwest of Melbourne CBD
  • Best time to visit: Autumn for pleasant weather and local events
  • Known for: Gold rush history and antique shopping
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/uz38YzpJ5BLPEoXJ8

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Walhalla?

The best time to visit Walhalla is from March to May when the weather is cool and comfortable, ideal for exploring the town and its natural surroundings.

Are there any annual events in Clunes I should plan my visit around?

Yes, the Clunes Booktown Festival, held annually in May, is a significant event where book lovers can enjoy talks, book sales, and cultural activities.

Can I visit Heathcote for its wineries without a car?

While it’s possible, traveling to Heathcote without a car can be challenging as public transport options are limited. Renting a car or joining a guided wine tour would be more convenient to explore the numerous wineries.

What outdoor activities can I do in Timboon?

Timboon is great for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like walking along the Camperdown-Timboon rail trail, visiting the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, and enjoying local artisanal food at the Timboon Ice Creamery.

Lachlan Taylor

Lachlan aka Lockie is a contributing writer at Humble Trail, known for his down-to-earth style and passion for the great outdoors. Born and raised in the small town of Deloriane, Tasmania, Lockie developed a deep love for nature and adventure from a young age.

His articles are a blend of his personal adventures and insightful explorations, often focused on sustainable travel, wilderness treks, and the serene beauty of untouched landscapes.

Always with his own reusable coffee cup in hand, Lockie loves a good caffeine fix as much as everyone else on the Humbletrail team.

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