Inspired by the success of Bulahdelah in New South Wales in attracting grey nomads as a way of counteracting the negative effects of being bypassed, the attractive Victorian community of Beaufort is enthusiastically committed to following the same strategy.
Located halfway between Ballarat and Ararat, the town of 1200 residents is refusing to allow the imminent arrival of the Western Highway Bypass turn it into a proverbial ghost town.
The Beaufort Progress Association has taken the initiative by establishing a free 48-hour campsite for self-contained vehicles near Beaufort Lake, as well as a free dump point … and the signs are positive.
“There has been a constant trail of about 10-15 vehicles per week using the lovely level gravelled area which has a huge turning space,” said the association’s president, Liza Robinson. “And there is already anecdotal evidence of campers shopping in town and this will only improve.”
Beaufort’s efforts to ‘do a Bulahdelah’ are boosted by the fact it already has much appeal for grey nomads. Sitting in the heart of the Pyrenees wine district, it was once a bustling gold mining town of 20,000 people.
It has all the facilities a weary traveller might want, whether it be a supermarket, chemist, butcher, pub, supermarket, restaurant … or a caravan park.
“The free camp is owned by the Pyrenees Shire, as is the caravan park,” said Ms Robinson. “It is acknowledged that the vehicles that use the free camp wouldn’t stay in the caravan park anyway, so the free camp is accepted on those grounds.”
The area proudly lays claim to being the birthplace of Vegemite and plans are afoot to create a museum based on the inventor of the iconic spread, Cyril Callister, who was born in nearby Chute.
The Eurambeen Historic Homestead with its three-acre Edna Walling garden is nearby, and the Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally and historic Beaufort Railway Station attracts thousands of steam enthusiasts from all over the world.
A self-guided walking Historic Tour has recently been established to help grey nomads and others uncover the magic of Beaufort’s past. Other recommended events include the Beaufort Agricultural Show, the Pyrenees Annual Art Festival, the Rainbow Serpent music and arts festival, and the region’s biggest food and wine event, Pyrenees Unearthed.
Just outside Beaufort is the beautiful Mount Cole State Forest with peaks including Mount Buangor and Ben Nevis. The area is rich with wildlife and offers great bushwalking opportunities. And the Progress Association says this is just the start. It is working to create a two-week ‘winery tour for RVs’ in November.
“Grey nomads can play a very significant part in helping make a town a destination when a bypass happens,” said Ms Robinson. “Bulahdelah did this by creating a free camp site in the town and capitalising on the areas’ nature based attractions … it’s a proven strategy we can replicate.”