The Golden Plains region, just west of Geelong, is renowned for its award-winning wines of the Moorabool Valley, iconic music festivals (Meredith, Golden Plains and Bluestone Blues), gold-mining history and breathtaking natural beauty. From the gateway townships of Bannockburn and Inverleigh in the south to Smythesdale in the north, it s easy to spend time in Golden Plains.
Taste the world class cool climate wines of the Moorabool Valley Wine Region and local cuisine from fine dining in Inverleigh. See the wide range of local galleries and studios along the Golden Plains Arts Trail and the stunning sights of open plains and farmlands. Explore the region's rich gold-mining history in towns such as Smythesdale, Linton and Steiglitz.
National and state parks, rivers, an abundance of native flora and fauna and the famous Ballarat - Skipton Rail Trail all add to the enjoyment of time spent in Golden Plains.
The township, originally named Leigh Road, was founded in the early 1850s. It is presumed to have been named after the 14th century battle site in Scotland, and grew as a coaching stop during the 1850s and 1860s, when the main route to the Ballarat goldfields was via the port of Geelong. The railway came to the town with the opening of the Geelong-Ballarat line in 1862. The local railway station was originally called Leigh Road but the name was changed to Bannockburn in 1904. Today, only grain and freight trains use the line.
Bannockburn township contains notable examples of Victorian colonial architecture, such as the former Somerset Hotel (1854), now a private home, and the Bannockburn railway station (1863). The station is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Bannockburn hosts the award-winning Golden Plains Farmers' Market on the first Saturday of each month where the produce is fresh from paddock to plate.
The nearby Bannockburn Vineyards is a 25-hectare vineyard on the Midland Highway, established in 1974 by Stuart Hooper. Grapes grown include cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, malbec, merlot, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc and shiraz.
The Bannockburn Lagoon is used for fishing, and picnic activities. It is not recommended for swimming.
Gheringhap is a rural township, located approximately 83 km southwest of Melbourne, between Geelong and Meredith on the Midland Highway. Gheringhap Post Office opened on 1 April 1869 and closed in 1968. The town is located at the junction of the Western standard gauge railway between Melbourne and Adelaide, and the Geelong-Ballarat railway. The Wathaurong People were the first residents of the Geelong area. Many of the area's names, including Gheringhap, were originally used by them.
Lethbridge railway station
The quiet rural township had its beginnings when the railway came to the town with the opening of the Geelong-Ballarat line in 1862. Today only grain and fruit trains use the line. Bluestone from Lethbridge quarries was used to build several significant buildings in Melbourne, including the steps to the Parliament House. At the 2011 census, Lethbridge had a population of 950.
Moranghurk, a Lethbridge homestead dating from approximately the 1840s, located on the Midland Highway, is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Peter Lalor, the leader of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, hid overnight in Lethbridge while fleeing from Ballarat to Geelong in November 1854.
Lethbridge Post Office opened on 10 September 1857 and closed in 1980. Also closed are the Uniting Church (now a residential property), St. Josephs Catholic church (part of the Meredith Parish, but is out of use) and numerous service shops like the hairdresser.
Mt Misery Creek bridge, located on the Berringa - Dereel Road in the Enfield State Park. It was constructed in 1906 to provide permanent access to the township of Berringa and to facilitate the transportation of gold extracted from the Berringa Goldfields.
The township of Berringa was a centre of intensive gold mining in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Gold has been mined at Berringa since the 1850s, with the main period of production being from 1898 to 1917, during which time about 280,000 ounces of gold were extracted from five major mines and several other, smaller operations. Mining continued after World War I on a lesser scale until the area was abandoned in the 1950s.
Gold mining had a direct effect on Berringa's population, which increased from 150 in 1899 to a peak of about 4000 in 1908. By 1922, with the gold mining boom over, the population had fallen to about 100. As of the 2006 census, Berringa and the surrounding area had a population of 259.