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Published May 4th 2013
Ghost Towns near Melbourne to visit
Explore the Dark and Haunting History of the Victorian Goldfields
The Victorian Goldfields are a tourism region in North Central Victoria. Major towns include Ballarat and Bendigo, and smaller centres such as Castlemaine, Daylesford and Maryborough.
The region boomed during the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century when the Australian population nearly tripled. Although many found riches, it was also a time of despair, poverty, and The Eureka Rebellion. Many hard-working people and businesses struggled under the difficult living conditions and isolation. Victoria has a dozen ghost towns that were deserted, but still stand today as monuments of a bygone era. On a short stretch of road near Maryborough you can find four of the most interesting and ghostly towns on offer.
Panning for Gold. Image from Wikipedia from the user Zanka
A convenient place to start a tour of Ghost Towns is Maryborough, 168 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. A loop from Majorca to Amherst, Homebush, Timor, and then back to Maryborough is about 90 minutes driving.
Majorca is 11 kilometres south of Maryborough and is now a ghost town. It was founded in 1863 after two prospectors struck gold at McCallum's Creek. There were 250 stores and a population of 4000 soon after. Schools and churches were established and the town even had its own racecourse. Majorca lasted for 50 years, before it's demise.
Amherst is a short drive west from Majorca, and is now an uneven paddock of 10 acres, showing little of a glorious past. The town began as a mining settlement known as Daisy Hill, that gained notoriety due to an illegal gold rush in 1849, that was based on spurious claims. The name was changed to Amherst in 1855 when tens of thousands of miners arrived. As nearby Talbot increased in size, Amherst was neglected, and most of the original township was destroyed by bushfire, leaving only the Amherst Cemetery.
Amherst Cemetery. Credits: Image by user Mattinbgn from Wikipedia
Homebush is a bit further west and was settled in 1853 to support the gold mines which prospered until the 1880s, when the gold started to run out, and the town gradually died. All that remains is a school building. The churches, railway station, stores, and markets, have since disappeared.
Lower Homebush School. Credits: Image by user Peterdownunder from Wikipedia
The final stop on the tour of Ghost Towns is the town of Timor, just north of Maryborough. The town had 30,000 residents, including a large Chinese community. Hotels, houses and stores lined a mile-long main street. Timor prospered all the way until World War I when the local mining industry collapsed. The last pub closed in 1963, and the general store continued operating until 1997.
Closed General Store at Timor. Credits: Image by user Mattinbgn from Wikipedia