Pyrenees Experience – By John Moir
The views are great but behind them are a number of mysteries. On this occasion we will show what is readily available to the traveler on the road in their motorhome or campervan and what can be experienced by the adventurer.
Starting at Dunolly, our pivot for the Central Goldfields, you might like to call in at the Alvah Art Gallery to get the latest news on the area and see some art before you venture forth. Leave Dunolly from Broadway (the main street) and head out on the Avoca Road noting the Silos, cork tree, old Terminus Hotel, burnt creek, grey box forest, Mt Hooghly with a small planting of saltbush on your right and the most beautiful views of the Pyrenees ahead. Open fields and fields of grain abound as you travel to Rathscar and then Homebush (note the old original school) before entering Avoca. By travelling straight on as you cross the railway and pass the primary school (Barnett St) then turn right into Russel St to see the Anglican and Uniting Churches. The main street (High St), has a number of historic buildings and it is well worth a drive down along the river to take in the trees, river, Chinese Garden, 2 story building and old sale yards. Take a drive around some of the back streets to get the views of the Pyrenees the locals enjoy. There is accommodation at the motels, hotels and cottages just for starters.
Now we have choices for some touring that will include wineries.
Cross the bridge over the Avoca River and head out half a km to Dawson’s Road and down that road you will find one of the first wineries in the goldfields at Hedon Farm. Return to Avoca because the road ahead is only a dirt road.
On returning to Avoca turn left just before the bridge and go out past the football ground. Continue on to Mount Avoca and Blue Pyrenees wineries. The tree lined roads are worth the drive. Having seen the wineries you have a further option in this area of the waterfall and the lookout. A caution here is the road to the lookout is not well signposted so only go up to the picnic area that is on your right (about 2km). The view is fantastic and is available from the road at this point.
YOU MAY GO ON BUT – Only on suitable days weather and fire wise- should anyone go further up this road you will find a number of named Treks but no destination. You definitely need maps to follow the TREKS as well as a 4 wheel drive. What is on offer is a virgin forest with numerous fallen trees and very rugged. It does go on to come out either at Warrenmang or the Elmhurst-Landsborough Road. We did see 3 magnificent wedge tailed eagles.
The best choice is to return to Avoca after the wineries and enjoy a far easier tour.
If you are running out of time and have an hour to spare take the road north from the main street in Avoca, and go out to Moonambel – there the wineries are good and also call at the Redbank Winery – Sally’s Paddock which is on the highway.
An alternate tour is to Head out the Ararat Road (as you would have crossed in tour 1) but continue out to Amphitheatre (note the wool shop, two-story home and the small plant nursery) and continue on to Elmhurst noting Mt Cole on your left. Turn north in Elmhurst and travel to Landsborough and again note the large number of wineries as you pass – also note the scenery. The Town Hall is the main feature in Landsborough as you pass through and then, just out of town, take the well signposted turn to the right to go on to Moonambel. You will note the many names on this trip starting with GLEN. Must have been a lot of Scots settle the area. My picks of Moonambel are the store, church and school but first call out to Taltarni and taste their gold medal wines. Try Dalwhinnie for their wine and the view.
As you leave Moonambel take the first road left out to the Sunraysia Highway and take a left up to the Redbank winery – they have a fine snack option before 3pm to go with the tasting.
Travel back south again and either go back to Avoca or if you wish travel east on the road to Natte Yallock. Just through Natte Yallock take the first left toward Bealiba and Archdale Junction. Note the large hay sheds. Look for the Stuart Mill turn off to the right and then head back to Dunolly.
There are a number of accommodation Options and these include:
Caravan Parks in Dunolly, Avoca, Stawell and the Moonambel Recreational Reserve. Special accommodation options could be at say Mt Avoca winery and Redbank. Main thing to note is there are many options as far as accommodation and what to see, in all areas.