Stepping foot in Beechworth should immediately give the indication that one has somehow left the modern era and traveled back in time. As one of Victoria’s most historic and best-preserved gold mining towns, Beechworth enables visitors to really get a sense of what life was like back in the 1850s and 1860s. Besides, with over 32 buildings listed by the National Trust as both historical and cultural, the town continues to shine and illuminate from its rich, rich background.
Originally starting in 1852, the Australian gold rush arrived to the small grazing area in full force, changing not only the town’s name from Mayday Hills to Beechworth but also transforming the landscape. Soon after its discovery and with gold on people’s minds, the mining craze brought in a massive amount of people to the remote, isolated area, founding the town.
Going hand in hand with the rush, of course, were the crazy characters and gold-tinted legends that only could have occurred in Beechworth. One particular example is the Golden Horseshoes legend of 1855, where during the first election campaign, candidate Daniel Cameron rode into town on a horse with gold horseshoes. Although he the horse only walked a mile in the solid gold shoes, legend has it that the shoes weighed one ounce less once they were removed. Needless to say, Cameron won the election and the story is still commemorated in Beechworth during the Golden Horseshoes Festival on Easter weekend.
Although the rush successfully thrived for only 14 years, before it began to wither away in 1856, Beechworth continued to see its fare share of interesting characters, not to mention the extraction of over four million ounces of gold during the rush’s heyday. One notable individual is none other than infamous Bush Ranger Ned Kelly, who was tried on a few occasions in the town’s courthouse – along with his mother in one instance – for attempted murder as well as other minor crimes. In fact, the Ned Kelly weekend festival occurs every year around August.
Luckily, the town was smart enough to invest a lot gold rush money into important city infrastructure such as hospitals and buildings, allowing the continued progress of the town’s economy. Because of this, the town’s historic and cultural precincts are unmatched, with amazing 1800s architecture and beautiful parks and gardens. Not to mention that a lot of Beechworth accommodation, such as hotels and bed and breakfasts, are located in many of these ancient buildings. So, every aspect and experience during a trip to Beechworth is literally like a blast from the past.