With its wide streets, rich history, and stunning natural surrounds, the Victorian town of Hamilton has long been a grey nomad favourite … and that’s not going to change any time soon.

Sometimes known as the ‘Wool Capital of the World’, Hamilton sits at the junction of the Glenelg Highway and the Henty Highway about 180 kilometres or so west of Ballarat.

The first European to travel through the area was Major Thomas Mitchell in 1836 and his reports of the rich and fertile land he found soon brought pastoralists to the area.

The location where Hamilton now stands was actually the site of significant conflict between new arrivals setting up sheep stations and the local Aboriginal people.

Lake Hamilton

A small community nonetheless grew in the area, and the township of Hamilton was formally declared in 1851. The railway reached here in 1877.

There are a number of heritage-listed sites that can offer grey nomads a glimpse into times gone by. These include the Post Office, the Mechanics Institute, the Hamilton Gas Holder, the Tuberculosis Chalet, the Napier Club, and the Hamilton Racecourse Grandstand.

Another heritage-listed site is the magnificent Botanical Gardens which cover four hectares and were established way back in 1870. The 25 hectares of parkland around the pristine 38-hectare Lake Hamilton is also a top spot for grey nomads to stroll, and the lake itself is a great place to throw in a line or take a paddle.

Ansett Museum

The Ansett Museum tells the story of how airline was founded. PIC: Southern Grampians Shire Council

Hamilton, with a population of around 10,000, boasts a full range of shops and services. It’s also a town with a fine artistic heritage headlined by the Hamilton Gallery which consistently attracts a superb range of exhibitions.

The town’s long association with the pastoral industry is celebrated each August with Sheepvention, a massive agricultural show which generally attracts around 25,000 visitors.

Of course, Hamilton is also well known as the place where the Ansett Australia airline was founded in 1935. The Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum tells that remarkable story, and displays many fascinating items from those early days.

Similarly, the Campes Motor Museum, which was founded more than three decades ago, boasts a mind-boggling array of vintage vehicles and motoring memorabilia.

While there is a huge variety of camping options in the Great Hamilton area, Hamilton town itself offers the choice of two centrally-located caravan parks; the Lake Hamilton Motor Village & Caravan Park, and Hamilton Caravan Park.

The nearest free camp to Hamilton is at the Wannon Reserve – home to the stunning Wannon Falls – a 10-minute drive away towards Coleraine.

Also well worth a drive to look at are the Nigretta Falls about 20 kilometres north west of town, as well as the Byaduk Caves and the Mount Napier volcanic formation, both of which are about 20 kilometres south of Hamilton.

And then, of course, the magnificent Grampians National Park lies a little to the north east. Hamilton then is a gem of a town in a truly spectacular part of the world.

No wonder it’s become a ‘one of our favourite stops’ entry in so many grey nomad Big Lap journals.

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