Introduction to historic Indigo Shire
Nestled in Victoria's scenic north-east, the historic towns of Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen, Stanley, Wahgunyah and Yackandandah are an easy three-hour drive from Melbourne, four and a half hours from Canberra and around seven hours from Sydney.
Dreams of striking it rich brought thousands of hopeful miners to the region following the discovery of gold at Beechworth in 1852. Gold fever quickly spread to Yackandandah, Chiltern and finally to Rutherglen, where the fledgling wine industry was already being recognised for its range of fine table and fortified wines.
Today the area is renowned as one of Victoria's premier tourist destinations with a diversity of historic and natural attractions, fine restaurants, a flourishing wine industry, renowned regional produce and an excellent range of accommodation options from Five Star luxury to modestly priced hotels and guest cottages.
Beechworth is a beautifully preserved gold town. Many stately buildings remain as a legacy of the rich, rollicking golden era including the historic Courthouse, Telegraph Station and other buildings comprising the Historic and Cultural Precinct, recognised as one of Australia's premier heritage attractions.
Ned Kelly, his mother Ellen, brother Dan and gang members appeared on numerous occasions in the Beechworth Courthouse, now regarded as one of Victoria's most significant Kelly sites.
Nearby Yackandandah and Chiltern have also retained an array of historically significant 1850s and '60s buildings, while Wahgunyah, once a busy riverboat port, has a number of historic buildings, including the old customs house, where duty was paid on goods being transported interstate.
The wonderful wines of Rutherglen, the oldest wine region in Victoria, are justifiably world famous. The region has built a strong reputation for its rich, luscious Tokays, Muscats and Ports as well as an amazing range of robust, full bodied reds and cool, crisp whites. A regional specialty is Durif, a red wine full of flavour and mostly unique to that area.
Dotted throughout the picturesque countryside of Indigo Shire are a host of other hamlets and villages well worth a visit including beautiful Stanley, a 10 minute drive into the hills east of Beechworth. Once a thriving gold mining town, Stanley is now famous for its orchards of apples, chestnuts and berries as well as its saffron and tree farms. The Stanley Pub is well worth a visit with its gourmet food and classic beer garden. Also worth a visit are Tangambalanga, in the beautiful Kiewa River Valley and Gundowring, famous for its award-winning range of ice creams.
Self-driving is the most popular way to reach the area. From Melbourne the Hume Freeway provides easy access with exits to Beechworth and Rutherglen clearly shown. From Sydney and Canberra take the Hume Highway, now mostly a four-lane highway, to Albury.
Other travel options include rail and coach to Wangaratta or Albury where rental cars are available. Daily air services from Qantaslink, REX Regional Express and now Virgin Blue link Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney with Albury Wodonga, with rental cars available at the airport from Budget, Thrifty, Hertz and Avis.
Beechworth is a 45-minute drive from Albury, travelling south through verdant rolling hills and scenic farmland, with the option of a visit to picturesque Yackandandah, the location of Paul Hogan film Strange Bedfellows. The Rutherglen Wine Region is just a short 30-minute drive to the west.
Indigo Shire is the ideal destination for an indulgent, romantic weekend getaway, a mid-week escape or a few leisurely days drive exploring the rich history, culture and diversity this gorgeous region has to offer.
For more information on the historic towns of Indigo Shire, click on each of the links below:
Last updated: 21 December 2010