Wimmera River in Flood - 16 Jan 2011 (C) Iain Sedgman 2014
1. Mt Arapiles
Mecca for rock climbers from around the world. Arapiles has two lookouts; the summit lookout, (a fire authority's spotting tower is there), and the Bluff lookout with wheelchair access. The summit lookout can be amazing in Winter at sunrise, often overlooking a sea of cloud lower down.
Count the lakes that you can see from the lookouts. Some are salt and some are fresh water. On the road to the summit is a sign to Melville Cave and a short walk gets you to this interesting little area. Visit the main campground and picnic area and from there walk out to catch views of the magnificent cliffs, particularly early or late in the day. Check out the nearby Mitre Peak and Mitre Lake as well.
2. Mitre Peak
3. Mitre Lake
Best viewed from Vinegar Hill, a small rise a few kilometres down the Grass Flat Road on the left, just past Three Chain Road and opposite B Hateley Road. Walk to the saltbush flats around the lake from the Mitre Dam (4) or down the other side of Vinegar Hill (5).
6. Jane Duff Memorial Park
Site of where Jane and her two brothers were lost in the bush for nine days in 1864. Aboriginal trackers were called in and steered the horsemen in the right direction for several days until the children were found alive.
7. Naracoorte Caves
These caves, just over the state border in South Australia are world famous and are listed as a World Heritage Area, mainly because of fossils found in some caves. If you have seen one cave elsewhere you have seen them all, you might think. However, the fossil cave tour is well worth going on and there is a great exhibit showing off prehistoric Australia as well.
8. Lake Toolondo
Has an interesting channel built by aborigines to catch eels. Toolondo was also once a popular boating and swimming lake with a lovely sandy beach. However, following changes to the water management the 'beach' is no longer. Many trees are around the outside but open water exists in the middle. Perhaps a visit to Balmoral is worthwhile and not that far away. Balmoral has a few shops and a great street stall at Easter and very friendly people.
9. The Black Range
Contains many interesting aboriginal art sites, caverns, cliff faces and sandy tracks and walks. The vegetation is very much similar to the Grampians but often a bit more open. Wildlife includes kangaroo and emu. Some of the main tracks can get boggy after heavy rain.
Drive around the river and check out the local olive oil company. Some very high standard produce can be purchased. Horseshoe Bend is famous for just having a look around at the Wimmera River. In town the Historical Society has a house that has an excellent display of exhibits. The society often has members working away at old records and lots of advice on the displays is usually available. Water skiing can be done on the river but seek local advice first.
11. The Grampians
23. Lake Natimuk
Popular fishing lake. Apart from angling, water skiers enjoy it as well. However, it can dry up for several years at a time, during drought such as 1997 – 2003. The lake then sometimes has to be mowed and even burnt, to destroy ‘fairy grass’ that blows away to nearby farm houses. As at October 2017 the Lake had a fair amount of water in it but as at June 2021 it is dry but a picnic on the banks is a good possibility.
Lake Wyn Wyn, Black Swamp and many more of the lakes in the area. Extensive bird life and habitat for migratory birds are found in these disjointed series of lakes. Lake Wyn Wyn is a world listed Ramsar site.
Natimuk is a lovely small town that is hanging on despite rural trends. The Natimuk shops have lessened in recent years but several remain; including a popular hotel, post office, milk bar, furniture shop, outdoor shop and community craft store. The craft store is staffed by volunteers and has home made cakes and preserves that all meet health standards. Crafts and plants are also popular in the shop. The milkshakes at the local milk bar have been renowned for nearly 40 years. A tourist walk of some of the older buildings and historic sites is available. The nearby silos are a flurry of activity at harvest time, around November to early January. Various art festivals in the town are also popular when held, often over major long weekends.
26. Jilpanger Springs
A large natural bush area with a lovely spring that dried up during
early 1999. Jilpanger Springs is usually a great waterhole for bird life and
native animals. However, in drought years it, along with many Wimmera lakes
dries up. In 2018 the small lake had water, though not deep, and it remained there for a few years. Kayaking on it is a quiet experience and it’s a lot of fun just getting to this out-of-the-way place. Generally dry though if good rains have not occurred.
27. The Little Desert
This large sandy expanse of natural vegetation is our most southerly
desert. However it is not your typical dry sandy desert. The sands and light
soils support a wealth of valuable native vegetation and wildlife, including
mallee fowl. There are three large blocks. The McDonald highway traverses the
west and central blocks and is a 4WD track that is rutted for most of its
length. Emus and kangaroo are abundant. Water is not. Two other interesting
spots in the Eastern block are Lear’s Well (28) which was dug by hand and is coffin
shaped and goes straight down for about 60m. Dahlenburg Mill is also interesting and
has the remains of an old windmill, sheep watering troughs and their wooden supports.
29. Gold Escort Route (at Grass Flat)
A cairn marks the site where the 1850's route passed. This was where heavy carts carrying gold were escorted to South Australia via Horsham, Lake Wyn-Wyn, the Little Desert and then Kaniva and onwards.
30. Wimmera River
Starting near Ararat the Wimmera is the major river in the district flowing eventually north-westward to Lake Hindmarsh. Popular for fishing, water-skiing at Dimboola, Jeparit and Warracknabeal and it has many lovely red gums along its banks. Dimboola has a nice vantage point that is popular, called Horseshoe Bend. Kayaking around the river near Horsham is also very pleasant though at Jeparit is even more interesting. Walking, cycling and running along the river banks at Horsham are both very popular. If you start out from the helipad in Baillie Street and cycle upstream along the river, this also is very pleasant.
The last big town before the border with South Australia. Edenhope has a strong community spirit and a lovely Lake Wallace that when the Wimmera is not in drought is attractive and pleasant for a lunchtime stop. Can be a stop off point for heading down to visit Harrow, which has a very classy Lights show put on by the townsfolk. Other towns further south from here include Coleraine, which has a lovely chocolate factory! and Casterton if desired.
This old town has an interesting pub, a wonderful Sound & Light Show that is widely supported by the town's folk.The town is also famous for early indigenous cricket.
The best thing in town here is the 'Glenelg' chocolate factory. The factory at the western end of town has a shop outlet where you can buy really good chocolate frogs, blocks and bars of every shape and flavour. The nearby Wannon Falls (34) and the Nigretta Falls (35) are also worth a look at. There is also an interesting Eucalypt Arboretum (36) on the hill nearby. Lastly do stop at the former railway station that is now a tourist information centre and has some old station relics and photos.
A larger town with plenty of shops and famous for the origins of the Australian Kelpie. There are some good second hand shops too. Nearby is Bilson's tree which is apparently the tallest gum of it's type and 800 years old. More recently some interesting carvings in a large fallen limb add to the interest.
38. Ebenezer Mission
This old mission in service to the aboriginal community of the day is mainly old buildings and only scant information is provided on site. The buildings take you back to a century in time and there is an old cemetery that shows the overseas connection. To get there simply drive north from Dimboola towards Jeparit and the mission is located before Antwerp on the left. The mission was founded in 1858 by Moravian missionaries. NOTE: The site has been CLOSED for around a decade now, as of 2021. A sign on the highway points this out. This is a huge shame as it is of national interest to many Australians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. The site should be declared a National Historic Site and managed accordingly for ALL Australians. This is an opportunity for the management of the place to show initiative in coming together with the broader community. The church has great acoustics and a concert once a year to showcase local choirs and singers would raise funds to help with its preservation.
39. Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum (at Jeparit)
This museum is the pride of the local townsfolk and for good reason. The presentation is excellent with an emphasis on the household and agricultural past. The museum is open most days and is at Jeparit, just past Antwerp and Tarranyurk and it is adjacent to the Wimmera River. Whilst at Jeparit visit Lake Hindmarsh (40) which is only six kilometres from Jeparit and the largest freshwater lake in Victoria. The Wimmera River flows into Lake Hindmarsh and thence on to Lake Albacutya. In 2009 the drought mean't that Lake Hindmarsh was empty but it has half filled since but is drying out again as at October 2017. It is still interesting to know and see how this inland flowing river meets this Lake.
With a name like Rainbow you just have to visit. Continue north from Jeparit and on the west you will see the Lake Hindmarsh sand dunes that are typical of the eastern sides of Wimmera and Mallee lakes. You then pass Geppert's Gate which is well signed and the entrance to the Mallee. Rainbow is a town with lots of character and friendly people. Check out the bakery and go for a short walk around the town. Many of the stores retain their traditional character, particularly the newsagency and hardware store. There is also a nice second-hand shop too, and if it is closed, ask at the milkbar, as access may be possible.The town is also a great place to launch out from for a day trip to Wyperfeld National Park. Rainbow has many sporting facilities including golf (winter sandscrape course), bowls, tennis and a swimming pool.
In 2015 a new art gallery opened in Rainbow. The Turbo gallery in the main street of Rainbow, has rotating art exhibitions and features the work of local artist Belinda Eckermann. Art supplies and unique gifts are also sold. The hours are Tue-Fri 4-5:30pm and Sat 10-2 and Sun 12-4.
Rainbow also has a large home, called Yurunga, which is generally open on a Sunday afternoon, thanks to volunteers.
In the outstanding desert country round Rainbow there are many tracks suitable for low range 4WD vehicles. The circuit around Lake Albacutya is quite challenging around the NW side and Wyperfeld National Park is also close at hand. There are many steep sections with soft sand requiring appropriate skills including, driving with lower tyre pressures, recovery procedures and having a mate with a bigger 4WD along with you!
42. Wyperfeld National Park
A large Mallee park, just outside of Rainbow, where the overflow from Lake Albacutya is dispersed, albeit a rare event. A lovely area of undulating land and features. The park has excellent camping, a number of short walks and an interpretation information centre about the natural history of the area. There are many sandy tracks suitable for 4WDs with low range gears.
Chinaman's Track is an excellent adventure leading over to the Murrayville Track. Milmed Rock track is also worth doing and you can then come back to Rainbow via Chinaman's Track. There are many steep and sandy dunes and appropriate care and low-range 4WD skills are required.Warning: A low-range 4WD vehicle is necessary for getting to many places in Wyperfeld, as well as experience in off-roading and the tracks may have extensive sandy and steep sections or even considerable mud in parts too.
Home to the Dunmunkle Sump Oilers historic engines group who have meets held at their site a few times a year. They have 4 working Hornsby 1911 engines. The nearby 'Stick Shed' (44) is in decay but is a historical huge grain shed built in 1941 with very large wooden poles. Sadly there appears to be issues with it's preservation and you probably can't get in to see the inside. There is also the Water Tower Museum (45) in the old water tower that is worth a look and houses the James Hill Taxidermy Collection.
A bustling town, often with a small market and some interesting shops. There are a few old wares shops in the town and the Wheatlands one is a sort of town co-operative venture that helps support the nearby Warracknabeal Wheatlands Agricultural Machinery Museum. (47) The local park just nearby has several aviaries and some enclosures for kangaroos and even guinea pigs. A pleasant spot for a picnic lunch. Some good pubs to eat at in the town too.
48. Red Bluff
See Red Bluff photo in Gallery at top of article.
The capital of the Wimmera is indeed a jewel and is a progressive expanding city of about 14,000 residents. Horsham has many fine cafes and eateries and plenty of accomodation. The main and adjacent streets have been revitalised and are probably amongst the best presented for a rural city. The community have won the tidy towns award a number of times including Victoria's Tidiest Town in 2008. Major festivals include the Art Is Festival, celebrating art and the Awakenings Festival, which is the largest disability festival in Australia and held around October each year. The Horsham Art Gallery is well regarded as is the redeveloped Horsham Town Hall.
The botanical gardens, are worth seeing and have a proud heritage with many fine trees. The Horsham Aquatic Centre befits a much larger city and has a gym and various pools.
Horsham also has picture theatres, a ten pin bowling alley, a library and lovely walks along the Wimmera River, not to mention many sporting facilities. In Spring a fine agricultural show is held and in March the famous Wimmera Field Days are held over three days and are worth visiting, even if you don't own a tractor.
50. Northern Grampians
55. The Fortress
Further around on the Western side of the Grampians is a serious walk, to The Fortress with spectacular views. This walk is in remote country and needs a long day and is really only suitable for the very fit and for days of non-extreme weather events. I rank this walk as one of the finest day walks in Victoria and it can be commenced from the western side of the Grampians from near Buandik.
56. The Night Sky
The Wimmera sky is generally undisturbed by city lights, except for near Horsham and many visitors will appreciate the deep blackness that is achieved across the region when the moon is not around or over a quarter. Many people living around the world never get to see the stars in a black sky and this is a feature of the broader Wimmera and Mallee areas. You can see the Lesser and Greater Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way top perfection. Meteors streak across the sky most nights if you watch out for them for several minutes. During 2007 and 2008 I spoke at Horsham Rural City Council about our wonderful clear skies and the need for street lights to be deflected better. I believe that our skies should be in my list of things to see and do in the Wimmera and Mallee. Black skies are well worth seeing. I consider the best sky views are available from Wyperfeld National Park.