Most of us know Harrietville as a peaceful little mountain village nestled at the foot of Mount Hotham, a favourite hideout for outdoor enthusiasts. Well, you are not wrong, but there’s more to discover about this quaint little town.
For those of you that remember the hair-raising dirt road that led to Mount Hotham, it’s pretty safe to say we unanimously appreciate the sealed road and the orange beacons that keep us on the right side of the posts during the blizzard days we still insist on venturing to the mountain top for that wintery hit.
My dad tells stories of a carload of boys heading up the gravel mountain road in the peak of winter with a couple of them bouncing on the boot to give the car some traction on the snow-covered roads, cliff off to one side and a wall of snow on the other. *Do not try this at home.
Let’s flip a few pages back in the history books to see where it all began.
Gold, Gold and more Gold. It’s the common story of Bright & Surrounds. The Harrietville goldfields date back over 160 years and claim continuous gold production since that time. Gold was first discovered in 1852 and with two mines still in operation today, Harrietville is still a gold mining town!
Bet some of you didn’t know that!
Did you know winter sports weren’t a thing in the area until Norwegians, who immigrated to our gold fields introduced the sport? So, it wasn’t until around 1861 that an interest in Skiing in Australia was first born, and the first track cut in 1906 from Harrietville to Feathertop.
A number of dredges were in operation in the earlier part of the 1900s but the mother of them all was Tronoh Dredge, commonly known as ‘The Dredge’ now a tranquil swimming hole where most of the locals cool off in the warmer months. It will be interesting to reflect back on what was taking place 150 odd years ago during your next visit to the dredge.
Harrietville made-up part of Thomas Buckland’s pastoral run of 1845 although the area wasn’t named at the time. Harrietville most likely got its name from Mrs Harriet Luke who was the first white woman to live in the district, The goldfield was first reported in 1858 and only 2 years later named as Harrietville.
Top 10 Things to do in Harrietville
The Harrietville Museum is housed in a charming old miner’s cottage that was actually donated to the Historical Society by the Barker family. The cottage has been furnished in the style of the era with a rear extension to display the wonderful collection of photographs and relics from its gold mining past.
Tronoh Dredge Hole/Tronoh Lake
The perfect spot to hide out in the summer months or simply enjoy a picnic, leisurely walk or swim. Originally a gold mining dredge, once the largest in the Southern hemisphere.
Hiking in the High Country
Harrietville marks the starting point for the hike to the summit of Mount Feathertop along Bungalow Spur Track. Its not for the faint hearted so be sure to do a little research prior to the hike, but it’s definitely worth the spectacular views of the Australian Alps once you reach the summit. There are plenty of other shorter tracks around Harrietville to suit people of all fitness levels.
Trout & Salmon Farm
The fishing trip where you are always guaranteed to catch a fish. Entry is free and you only pay for what you catch. Doesn’t get much better than that. You can even get your fish scaled and cleaned ready for you to cook up a storm once you get back to your holiday accommodation.
Statue of the Gold Prospector
Most of the initial prospecting activities in the area involved panning for alluvial gold just as shown by the statue. It can be found along the river in Tavare Park.
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church was originally located in the Buckland Valley and moved to Harrietville in 1923, so its actual age is not stated. The church is one of a number of old buildings still standing for everyone to enjoy today.
Visit the snow
Mount Hotham is only a 40-minute drive from Harrietville & is an affordable alternative to staying on the mountain. We have numerous beautiful holiday homes to choose from in Harrietville to suit groups of all sizes. Base yourself off the mountain for your next skiing or snowboarding trip.
The perfect picnic spot in the shade of beautiful grand old tree. A great location for kids to enjoy the playground or wade in the knee-deep water of the Ovens River.
If you haven’t already heard of this, Geocaching is a grassroots global treasure hunt, where other geocachers hide ‘treasures’ for you to find using coordinates and clues. There are about 150 geocaches within a 16km radius of Harrietville. Geocaching is a great way to explore pockets of Harrietville you never knew existed and to learn a little bit about the town’s history while doing it.
Great Valley Trail
A short pedal on the flat Great Valley Trail past lush paddocks and mountain ranges is a fun adventure for people of all ages. The bike trail runs all the way from Harrietville to Bright. For a short ride, try the 10km-return ride out to the Mountain Fresh Trout and Salmon Farm and throw in a line instead
Food & Drinks
Now this may be the hardest decision you’ll have to make for your holiday. Where to eat?
For a tiny little village, Harrietville isn’t short on options, so be sure to share yourself around. The reviews speak for themselves with scrumptious meals at The Snowline Hotel, Harrietville Hotel Motel offers excellent pub food and always has some kind of entertainment on offer, not to mention the pool in summer open to the public.
- The Harrietville Snowline Hotel
- Harrietville Hotel Motel
- Lavender Hue B&B and Tea Rooms
- Granny’s Pantry
- Dolly Coffee Van
- The Harrietville Bakery
- Bella’s Café
- HV Kitchen
For some Farmgate & Local Produce why not try:
- Alpine Truffles
- Feathertop Berries