posted on | by Bendigo Regional Tourism

For any lover of nature and the great outdoors, the Bendigo Region is your adventure playground. The spectacular Region has untainted natural beauty, well away from city lights and the hustle and bustle of the big smoke. If it is not already on your bucket list, get your pen and paper (or smart phone) out now. Find below some of the must visits across the Bendigo Region, to keep any lover of the outdoors eager to return for more.

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Unearth Loddon Valley's backyard

With over 6,600 km2 of natural wonders, it is no surprise why the Loddon Valley Region is considered Victoria's backyard. If you haven’t heard of the Melville Caves or Kooyoora State Park you must plan a visit and enjoy a picnic, short walk or camp overnight stay. The history of Melville Caves is one full of intrigue and folklore. Legend has it that bushranger Captain Melville eluded the authorities by taking refuge within the caves, amongst the rocky outcrop. If you look hard enough, you may even stumble upon some of Captain Melville’s golden treasure. Also keep your eye out for evidence of indigenous culture amongst the caves and trees. 

Whilst in the Loddon Region, the Terrick Terrick National Park also offers amazing views full of beautiful granite outcrop contrasted with some stunning native grasslands. If you are planning a picnic or camping overnight, the Mitiamo General Store is a short 5 minute drive to access supplies.  

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Making a splash!

Another way to explore the natural beauty of the Loddon Valley is through a series of canoe trails around the northern township of Boort. If you are not keen to BYO canoe, Boort Lakes Holiday Park offers very affordable canoe hire and transportation to key locations throughout the Region. You can paddle until your heart is content at Little Lake Boort in the heart of Boort, or venture further afield to the stunning Serpentine Creek trail at Durham Ox.

A trip into the heart of the Loddon Valley would not be complete without a visit to the picturesque Bridgewater Water Hole (Infinity Pool), complemented by a picnic lunch from the award winning Bridgewater Bakery, home to Australia’s best vanilla slice for two years in a row. On the main street you could also visit local artisan galleries Arts of Olde and Secret Platypus, or sink a cold beverage or meal in the Bridgewater Hotel beer garden.

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A Golden Heart

We all dream of striking it rich one day by stumbling upon our own shiny golden nugget. What better landscape to find our early retirement piece, than within the famous golden triangle, right in the heart of Victoria. You never know, this dream could become reality, with the recent re-emergence of prospecting. This experience is made easily accessible by hiring or purchasing your own detector from Coiltek in Maryborough. Prospecting maps are available from the Central Goldfields Visitor Centre, the Loddon Valley Visitor Information Centre as well as Coiltek, or you can try your luck by exploring the many bushland areas across the Region at your own leisure.

Whilst in the region, don’t forget to visit the 'Welcome Stranger' monument in Moliagul, home to the largest golden nugget ever found.


 

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More adventure?

Only a short drive from Maryborough is the renowned Paddy’s Ranges National Park. Once home to gold mining and the production of eucalyptus oil, the spectacular State Park now draws in all lovers of the outdoors for bushwalking, picnics, camping, horse riding and cycling.

For those seeking to view the spectacular Goldfields by bike, look nowhere other than the Maryborough to Ballarat Heritage Trail. The 90km trail could be ridden in a day by the zealous, or more appropriately experienced over a few days. What better way to visit some of the historic towns such as Maryborough and Talbot, than on your own two wheels. Talbot home to the famous monthly Farmers Market, is full of character and charm. A stop in Talbot would not be complete without a visit to the Talbot Provedore or Slightly Bent books.

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Spring into nature

If you are itching to unwind and connect with nature, Vaughan Springs Mineral Reserve is that local secret that you must visit. Only 10 minutes from Castlemaine, Vaughan Springs which was previously a large gold rush town named ‘The Junction’, is now a hot spot for families to enjoy a picnic, a scenic walk, gentle paddle, swim, or even a more adventurous bike ride. Vaughan Springs, as the name suggests has a series of springs to sample fresh spring water straight from the source. If children will be joining you, they will never forget the large metal slide situated within the welcoming adventure playground.

If seeking a longer adventure, Vaughan Springs is situated along the iconic Goldfields Track, which attracts walkers and mountain bike riders from all over. The 210km trail leads walkers and riders into the heart of the goldfields region, through historic gold rush towns, natural landscapes and spectacular forests. The trail spans from the famous goldfields city of Bendigo through to Ballarat, allowing trail users to be immersed in the cultural and historic significance of the Region. 

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Worldclass adrenaline

For bike riders seeking something more exhilarating, the world class mountain bike park La Larr Ba Gauwa has been built on the outskirts of Harcourt, on the base of the prominent Mount Alexander. The mountain bike park designed by famous developer Dirt Art, offers over 34 kilometres of cross-country trails with stunning views and granite outcrop. The park is situated around a stunning oak forest, the perfect spot for a picnic, family walk and of course a place to park the caravan. All ride levels have been taken into consideration with the design, with a family ride through to a series of more difficult black runs. If you plan to ride, it is recommended you park in Harcourt, and enjoy a short 5 minute spin into the heart of the park.

A trip to Harcourt wouldn’t be complete without some local produce at either the Harcourt General Store, or across the road at Goldfields Track café, which neighbours the cycle friendly accommodation at Tread.

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Nature at its finest

If you are ready to launch into a few days of outdoor adventure, the Heathcote Region only 25 minutes from Bendigo, offers a smorgasbord of options. On the outskirts of the Heathcote township is the spectacular Pink Cliffs Reserve. The amazing landscape at Pink Cliffs presents itself in an array of pink colours, is the result of sluicing work in the 1880s during early gold mining activities. Make sure you have your camera ready, as this geological reserve provides plenty of spectacular locations amongst the volcanic like landscape, for that perfect pic.

Only a stone’s throw away, is the iconic O’Keefe Rail Trail, a spectacular 49km trail between Heathcote and Bendigo, which takes riders and walkers through a variety of natural landscapes as well as a section of Lake Eppalock. The stunning recreational trail is in alignment with an old railway line that previously linked numerous towns during the goldrush. If you fancy a cold drink, coffee or a hearty meal, the Axedale Tavern is perfectly placed halfway along the trail in the Heart of Axedale. Close by is the Campaspe River reserve offering trail users the perfect setting for a picnic and the opportunity to spot an elusive platypus. 


 

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Water sports and a great view

For those after some water activities over the summer, family picnics or an opportunity to generally explore, Lake Eppalock is a must visit. Since its development in the 1960s families and water lovers have been venturing to the spectacular lake for a many types of water sports and activities including swimming, waterskiing, fishing, canoeing and boating. Your visit will only be enhanced as some of the lakes amenities have recently been upgraded including bbq facilities, toilet blocks and boat ramps.

If you after something a little different, why not book a balloon ride with the BalloonMan and soak in the amazing Bendigo Region from above? The rich and diverse countryside, complemented by the goldrush heritage architecture is brought to life when viewed from the stillness of a balloon in the sky. The natural colours and golden glow of the goldrush region is something that will no doubt be etched into your mind forever.

COVID-19 UPDATE: The whole of Victoria including the Loddon Valley is currently in the Last Step of the COVID-19 Roadmap. For the updated restriction levels in Victoria please visit the DHHS website.