Little treasures spring from the fertile soils of Victoria’s Paddys Ranges State Park.
Paddys Ranges State Park is a little gem tucked away in the heart of the Victorian Goldfields. The park owes its name to an Irish miner by the name of Paddy, who lived in the area in the 1800s.
Today it’s a great spot for a family getaway, with plenty of walking tracks to explore and gold mining relics to discover.
A two-hour trip from Melbourne via Castlemaine and Maryborough will get you to the park. Facilities are limited to a long drop toilet and a small rainwater tank. It’s a great place for kids with heaps of space to play or ride a bike without annoying your next-door neighbour.
Spring is the best time to visit, when wildflowers displays are at their best. Over 230 species grow in this area, including more than 30 orchid species.
Golden wattle blankets the forest’s understorey in bright yellow during September and October, and the park boasts more than 140 different native birds. Keep your eyes to the sky and you might even spot the rare painted honeyeater in spring and summer!
DAY ONE — PICNIC LUNCH, BUSHWALK AND GOLDFIELDS
On your first day, head out to the Settling Ponds picnic area, which is well-signed. There are tables, a toilet and wood barbecues. A walking track winds its way through the forest and information boards along the trail provide interesting details about the history of the area.
Back in the 1800s, over 25,000 people flocked to these goldfields to test their luck, and in its heyday, the gold escort took out over 8,000 ounces of gold per week. Once the surface gold was exhausted, mining shafts were dug to bedrock, where extensive deposits of gold were often found in quartz.
The people on the goldfields relied on the forest for resources, which was stripped of timber for mining operations, railway sleepers, fence posts and firewood. The soil was constantly dug over and disturbed in the relentless search for gold.
If you’re keen on doing some fossicking yourself, there are designated areas within the park where you are allowed to prospect.
DAY TWO — MARYBOROUGH
On the second day, check out the township of Maryborough, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away. Maryborough’s many heritage buildings are testament to the township’s rich history.
The impressive post office was built in 1877 in typical Victorian style, and the historic Maryborough railway station dates back to the 1890s. It reportedly has the longest platform in country Victoria — the building was remembered by Mark Twain as “a station with a town attached”.
Beautiful Worsley Cottage was built in 1894 by stonemason Arthur Worsley and is now home to the Maryborough-Midlands Historical Society.
Established in 1881, the Flour Mill was one of the town’s longest employment industries. The building now contains a display of over 200 vintage, antique and toy sewing machines and is also used for art exhibitions and historical displays.
Up on Bristol Hill, the Pioneer Memorial Tower stands 905m above sea level and is a fantastic place to watch the sunset. From here, it is an easy 5km drive back to the campground, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the bush.
Head to Paddys Ranges State Park and you’ll be treated to beautiful weather, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and lots of fun. You might not strike any gold, but the memories made are far more precious.
- Paddys Ranges State Park is 170km north-west of Melbourne.
- Karri Track camping area is easily accessible via a good gravel road and has toilets and fireplaces. No fees apply.
- Fuel and groceries are available in Maryborough.