WITHIN THREE HOURS DRIVE of Melbourne are many 1800s boom towns, where gold and timber brought long forgotten riches. Many have been revitalised as holiday destinations, with wineries, good food, galleries, and fresh country air. Castlemaine, Wedderburn, Ballarat, Bendigo, Wooden, Daylesford- take your pick (and shovel?).
A good number of state and national parks make for great short getaways.
Central Victoria has many old towns which boomed from gold mining or forestry in the late 1800s. The area also has many good camping and hiking spots.
Kooyoora State Park is half way between the gold towns of Bendigo and Wedderburn.
The small park offers ok wildlife and bird watching. Corellas, often mistaken for cockatoos, are often seen.
The park has a number of small hills, reminiscent of the more famous Grampians, which are not far away.
The tops of the hills provide far away views of the surrounding farms and forests, and the rocks provide pools of water for hardy plants to grow.
Please tell me you can see the kangaroo shape in the tree!
The Werribee River runs through Werribee Gorge State Park, west of Melbourne.
No camping is allowed at the park, but it is small enough to enjoy in a day.
While the hiking through the gorge is generally easy, there are a few narrow ledges where hand-rails are needed.
Platypus are known to inhabit the river, though sightings are a matter of luck.
Not far from Werribee Gorge, Lerderberg State Park is more mountainous, with good thick forests and camping.
Lerderberg also has kangaroos.....
....as well as wallabies.
And you are sure to be woken up by kookaburras.
And bird-ners won't be disappointed.
The hiking trails can get hard to follow at times, running along and across rivers and ledges.
When the wattles bloom in Heathcote-Graytown National Park it is a wonder for man and bird.
Lake Eppalock is just the other side of the twon of Heathcote, and is well worth a wander.
The park and camping is isolated and quite, despite being minutes away from Heathcote town.....where they do some pretty good pies if you are over camp cooking.