When grey nomads are drawing up their wish lists of attractions that preferred destinations might have they would probably include … stunning natural beauty, major historical interest, affordability, perhaps the possibility of doing some fossicking for gems and gold, and maybe the chance to visit some wonderful local wineries.
The Wangaratta region of Victoria, not far from Albury-Wodonga and the New South Wales border ticks all of the boxes. Situated about 230 kilometres from Melbourne along the Hume Highway, the cathedral city lies at the junction of the Ovens and King rivers.
There are a number of excellent walks to enjoy along the river banks and a number of attractive parks and gardens within the town.
This is an area steeped in history though, and buildings such as the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, St Patricks Church and the Wangaratta Art Gallery also demand attention.
If you’re talking Australian history, it’s never long until the name of Ned Kelly crops up.
The township of Glenrowan, a few kilometres from here, is the spot where, in June 1880, the infamous bushranger was involved in a dramatic shoot out with police. Ned was captured on that day and later hung at the Old Melbourne Gaol. Such is life.
The area is also rich in goldmining history and work has begun on restoring the El Dorado Dredge which was built in 1936 for deep mining gold and tin.
And for fossickers, El Dorado is reputed to be the one place in Australia where you can virtually guarantee to find gemstones and crystals along the length of Reedy Creek. You may find everything from smoky quartz, jasper and agates alluvial gold to amethysts, sapphires, zircon, rubies and diamonds.
The Victorian High Country is rightly famed for its spectacular beauty … and Mt Hotham, Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo – and all the attractions they offer – are all close by.
There are also numerous and wonderful wineries in the area. From Glenrowan to Beechworth to King Valley itself, the area’s climate and soil helps produce a robust style of red and rich fortified wine. So pull up the van, pull up a glass, and drink in all this magnificent district has to offer. Cheers.