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Published October 16th 2016
More Than 30 Lakes and Then There's Everything Else
Colac was not proclaimed as a shire until 1864 but Hugh Murray, for who the town's main street is named, built his first homestead on the banks of Lake Colac in 1840. By the 1870's almost 700 people called the town home. Today it is a tranquil and friendly rural town set amongst picturesque volcanic plains and lakes, surrounded by quaint townships and offering a smorgasbord of things to do and see. Billed as the Gateway to the Otways, Colac is around 150kms and an hour and a half from the Melbourne CBD.
The salty reflection of Lake Corangamite (Photo by Keza67 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
1.Lake Corangamite. Situated in the picturesque Red Rock Reserve Volcanic Site, 17kms north of Colac, this salt water lake at 234 square kilometres is Australia's largest permanent lake. The area is popular for fishing, camping, swimming, skiing and birdwatching. If none of that appeals it's pretty enough to just go for a look.
2.Beeac Windmill Park. Just 20kms north-east of Colac in the main street of Beeac, the Beeac Windmill Park displays an interesting array of historic rural windmills. The windmills have been rebuilt from parts found on local farms. Colac manufacturer, Bryan Windmills which has been operating since 1888 is well represented here. Onsite information on each of the windmills makes this an interesting stopover.
The long view west in the Colac Botanic Gardens (Photo from Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens Facebook Page)
3.Colac Botanic Gardens. The 16 hectares of the Colac Botanic Gardens sits town side on the banks of Lake Colac. Established in 1865, the gardens are home to many splendid long-lived trees as well as garden beds and open lawns. A 1.1km shared path around the perimeter is supplemented with walking paths throughout the gardens. There is also a children's playground, a BBQ and picnic area and a viewing platform that accords vistas across the lake to Warrion Hills.
4.Lake Colac. The town sits on the shores of Lake Colac making it the ideal location for fishing and water sports. It was as early as 1870 when the lake saw its first pleasure boats with the Rowing Club formed only two years later. If water activities are not your thing and you'd rather sit back and take in the serenity then pay a visit to Botanic Cafe on the Lake.
A giant spear lily flowering in the Colac Botanic Gardens (Photo from Friends of the Colac Botanic Gardens Facebook Page)
5.Brunt's Vintage Truck Museum. These meticulously restored vintage trucks are the personal collection of Merv and Faye Brunt. The museum runs out of Merv's storage shed with the man himself on hand to share information and chat about the trucks. The museum is at 42a Clark Street, Colac. Opening hours are 1.00 to 3.00pm on Saturday and Sunday or by appointment on week days. Phone Jack on (03) 5231 2503 for details or bookings.
Just one of the beautifully restored trucks (Photo from Brunt's Vintage Truck Museum Facebook Page)
6.The Stony Rises. The volcanic plains of Victoria's Western Districts are famous for their dry stone walls. Built as early as the 1840's from basalt rocks many of these historic walls are still intact.
7.Lake Colac Bird Sanctuary. 5.5 hectares of wetlands on the banks of Lake Colac, close to the Botanic Gardens, has been set aside as a Bird Sanctuary. In excess of 20 species of birds can be seen here throughout the year including penguins, black swans, spoonbills, and egrets.
Dry stone wall on the plains near Lake Corangamite (Photo by Peterdownunder (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0via Wikimedia Commons)
8.Memorial Square. The feature of Memorial Square is the towering sandstone memorial built after WWI in 1924. This substantial structure contains the names of 1,665 soldiers. After WWII another memorial was built in the park, combining g a low wall and two tall columns facing a pool of remembrance.
9.Coragulac House. Built in 1873 Coragulac House at 895 Corangamite Lake Road, Coragulac, around 12kms south of Colac, offers tours for groups of 20 or more. Some of the period features you will see in this grand residence are an entrance hall with a 6 metre cedar panelled vaulted ceiling, embossed wallpapers, and an imposing English oak mantelpiece.
Colac War Memorial (Photo by Mattinbgn (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
10. Heritage Buildings. With a history dating back to the 1800's it is no surprise Colac is home to a significant number of historical buildings. This includes the 1879 railway station, the 1877 Presbyterian Church, St John's Church of England built in 1891, and the 1870 Oddfellows Hall which is now a restaurant.
11.Old Beechy Rail Trail. Cycling enthusiasts can embark upon the Old Beechy Rail Trail, a 45km stretch from Colac to Crowes. The trail which can be broken into smaller sections for mountain bikers or walkers traverses forest, farmland and rolling hills.
Colac Railway Station, Victoria (Photo by Wongm at English Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
12.Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre. COPACC runs a varied program of shows including circus, comedy, drama, children's theatre, puppetry, jazz, and fine music performed by both local and visiting artists. Check it out and take in a show while you're in town.
13.The Red Rock Reserve Volcanic Site Lookout. The Lookout, 17kms north of Colac, overlooks 30 volcanic crater lakes including Lake Corangamite along with some volcanic cones. A set of stairs leads to the lookout from where visitors can take in expansive 360 degree views that stretch for kilometres. There are picnic tables and public toilets at the base of the hill.
Red Rock panorama (Photo by Sean O'Brien (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
14.Red Rock Regional Theatre and Gallery. Just 10kms north-west of Colac, the Red Rock Regional Theatre and Gallery in Cororooke promotes the region's visual and performing arts. Each month a show and meal is presented at the Carolyn Theatre. The Art Gallery is open on weekends and runs a changing program of exhibitions.
The art gallery at Red Rock Regional Theatre and Art Gallery (Photo from RRTAG Facebook Page)
15. Sunday Jazz. Relax with some Sunday Jazz at Otway Estate Winery and Brewery, 10 Hoveys Rd, Barongarook. Around 12kms south of Colac. Telephone (03) 5233 8400 to check scheduling and to book a table.
16.Sunday Markets. The Colac Lions Sunday Market runs at Memorial Square in Murray Street from 9am to 2pm on the third Sunday of every month except March. Stalls offer fresh produce, plants, preserves and local crafts. There is also music to entertain and a sausage sizzle to sate your appetite. At Birregurra, around 20kms east of Colac there is a market in Birregurra Park from 9am to 2pm on the second Sunday of each month during summer.
Check out the Sunday market (Photo from Colac Lions Club Inc. Facebook Page)
17. The Otway Fly. The Otway Fly Rainforest and Tree Top Walk in Weeaproinah, around a half hour's drive south of Colac, gives visitors an opportunity to view the forest from the canopy. At 600m long and rising to 300m in height the treetop walk is the longest and highest of its kind in the world. Otway Fly Treetop Adventures also has a two and a half hour Zipline Tour.
18.Wine and Dine. Colac and the surrounding towns have a wide variety of restaurants, cafés and takeaways so whatever your dining preference they have it covered. Use the Visit Otways restaurant finder to choose from a range of dining options in Colac and the Otways.
Colac Anglican Church built in 1891 (Photo by Mattinbgn (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
19. Stay a While. There is so much to see and do in Colac and the surrounding areas you will surely want to stay a while. Use the Visit Otways accommodation finder to choose from a wide array of places to stay from hotels, motels, B&B's, and holiday homes to caravan parks and camping grounds.
Colac is around 150kms and about an hour and a half from Melbourne's CBD. More information can be obtained from the Colac Visitor Information Centre by telephoning (03) 5231 3730 or by visiting the website.
Where:Colac is around 150kms and an hour and a half from the Melbourne CBD. Visit the website http://www.otway.biz/travel.html for directions. Colac Visitor Information Centre Corner Murray Street (Princes Highway) and Queen Street, Colac.
Cost:Make this scenery stacked area a low cost holiday or splash out on everything it has to offer, it’s up to you.