GoSeeAustralia's Agnes and Nick are just back from one of their regular visits to one of their favourite city escapes, Beaufort, a town about two-hour drive, 158km north-west of Melbourne.
It is an easy drive along the Western Highway which runs between Adelaide and Melbourne.
Beaufort is 30 minutes from either Ballarat or Ararat.
Agnes and Nick say it is their "breath of fresh air" escape for a few days to explore the attractions of this authentic Victorian country area, as well as have a relaxing break.
"We stayed at Beaufort Lake again for four nights, it is never quite long enough!
“We stay here at least once a year, sometimes more", Agnes said.
"We always use the ensuite sites as they are so spacious and practical. "While not modern, the ensuites have a sink for washing dishes, a bench, grab rail for shower and toilet and even a bath mat".
"There is currently no water in the lake, but the view is still wonderful, the atmosphere is peaceful and relaxing, and there is always so much to see and do in the town", Agnes said.
Agnes and Nick are regular visitors to Beaufort Lake Caravan Park.
GPS: South 37 deg. 26.19 min. East 143 deg 22.47 min.
The Caravan Park offers ensuite cabins and spacious powered sites, some with their own ensuite.
The park is picturesque and has a lovely peaceful ambiance. There is plenty of room for children to play and ride a bike. The Beaufort Lake Caravan Park is at 39 Park Road, Beaufort.
The park has 54 tourist sites. These consist of 18 powered sites, 12 unpowered sites, 19 powered ensuites, three budget ensuite cabins and three deluxe waterfront cabins. It also contains a ‘dump point' for caravan waste.
The park is pet friendly (sites only). The caravan park has plenty of space and can cope with Big Rigs to 20m. Your host is Hank Owen. Bookings can be made by telephoning the caravan park on 03 5349 2196.
Ensuite cabins range from $70 a double per night to $120. An ensuite powered site is $35, powered site $25, unpowered site $15. There is no minimum booking period during peak periods. Stay a week and the seventh night is free during off peak periods.
"Beaufort is a great place to spend some time in, rather than just drive through or spend one night. The four nights we stayed could easily have stretched to a week, there is so much one can do, especially if exploring the walking track and picnic spots in Mt Cole State Forest and Mt Burangor State Park, doing a day trip to Ararat, Avoca, Ballarat or Clunes. Mt Cole was amazing, so lovely", Agnes said.
"Mt Cole State Forest has numerous picnic and camping areas which are clearly signposted off the main Mt Cole Rd, and an extensive system of walking tracks, ranging from short family walks to overnight hikes. Particularly good is the 4km walk through fern gullies and dry sclerophyll forest at the Ditchfield Camping Area along Camp Rd (signposted off Mt Cole Rd).
"Mt Buangor State Park (2630 ha) is located to the north-west of Beaufort. Ferntree Gully Rd heads north off the Western Highway at the Major Mitchell Trail sign, 14 km west of Beaufort. A side road on the left after 800 m leads to the popular Middle Creek camping area which is joined by a 15-km network of tracks to the Ferntree Falls campsite. It is also the starting point for the strenuous Cave Walking Track.
"Mt Buangor State Park has a variety of landscapes including eucalypt forest, creek flats, waterfalls and steep escarpments. From the peak of Mount Buangor, the highest in the area, there are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
"Beaufort's railway station re-opened in 2004 enabling passenger services to and from Ararat, Ballarat and Melbourne. Tickets can be purchased from Beaufort Newsagent (66-68 Neill Street Beaufort).
"In 2014 the station was extensively renovated and now includes an art gallery: Beaufort Art Trax open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday each week. 10am- 4pm. Buangor is a small town on the Western Highway, 20 km west of Beaufort with direct line to the horse-drawn coaching days of Cobb & Co.
"Just past the Catholic Church is a Cobb & Co changing station built in 1869 and still in good condition. If you wish to see the interior speak to someone at the nearby hotel, first licensed in 1865. Turn left at the hotel into Main Rd. The first side road on the right is Cobbs Rd which has the Buangor Nursery. The second, Bunagor Rd, contains the railway station (1875). The store opposite Buangor Rd dates from 1865. The third, Challicum Rd, contains the old Anglican Church (1888), now a private residence, and the cemetery.
"Cafes are plentiful and most are open seven days a week. Fresh coffee, home-made cakes and light meals are the specialties on offer from these places and all for a reasonable price. More than just a place to eat, the cafes frequently sell local produce items such as olives and olive oils, preserves, cakes, biscuits and other assorted delights.
"For evening meals most days of the week, try one of the local hotels for a hearty, country style meal. Established restaurants and wineries with great reputations are set amongst new and vibrant eateries, produce shops and vineyards. "There is plenty to do in the area, and Beaufort is a destination in its own right", Agnes said.
Other accommodation in Beaufort is also available, check with the Visitor Centre for details.
Beaufort Railway Station is on the Ararat Line, just behind the main street.
Seniors with their free annual return ticket can visit for a day or stay longer and walk to accommodation options, and shops.
Beaufort services include:
Beaufort Community Resource Centre and Visitor Information, which has free WiFi and computers, a lending library, and spotless toilets.
Service Station, Mechanical services.
Newsagent and Tattslotto.
Beaufort attractions and things to see and do include:
Monthly market held on the 1st Saturday of each month in the rose garden.
Beaufort's new Art Gallery in the extensively renovated railway station buildings.
Antique shops, Giftware, Craft and Local Produce shops abound.
Visit The Big Garage Sale in Neill Street for antiques and bric a brac, you never know what you will find!
Visit the Tangled Vine which offers lovely handmade fairy dresses, cushions, jewellery, toys, clothing and much more, and now has a new Chocolate Shop!
Enjoy a lovely cup of hot chocolate in the cafe.
Visit Mt Buangor State Park and Mt Cole State Forest which has wonderful lookouts, walking tracks and camping areas. Dogs are allowed in state forests.
Beaufort Lake has a boat ramp and picnic areas and is ideal for water skiing, fishing, canoeing and swimming when the lake is full.
There is a walking track around the lake with exercise equipment, and dogs are allowed.
Beaufort Golf Club and Bowls Club welcome visitors.
Beaufort Swimming Pool is open seasonally.
The Church Gallery and Christmas Shop.
The Rotunda with clock is set in a lovely garden setting with parking and benches. A lovely spot for a picnic.
Eurambeen Historic Homestead and Gardens was built in 1850 and has a garden designed by Edna Walling. The gardens are sometimes open to the public, and accommodation is available.
Enjoy 4WDriving, Mountain Bike riding and bushwalking.
Food and Wine:
Visit Michael Unwin Winery and Cellar Door for a free wine tasting. The winery is open 7 days and has plenty of parking for large vehicles such as caravans, buses or trucks.
The Golden Age Hotel offers excellent pub meals including a brilliant chicken Parma, seniors selections at lunch times, a beer garden, and local wines and beers. There is also budget accommodation available.
Angels Cafe and Gifts also offers great meals and a selection of giftware.
Pyrenees Pantry showcases local produce and giftware.
Sparrows Cafe – a Hole in the Wall cafe next door to the Big Garage Sale.
There are many other cafes and produce shops as well.
Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally twice a year.
Pyrenees Art Exhibition and Sale.
Pyrenees Unearthed Festival.
Beaufort - Raglan Vinduro - A vintage motorbike time trial through forests around Raglan.
While staying at Beaufort visit the nearby towns of Avoca and Moonambel, and don't forget to visit Ararat's historic J Ward, and the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.
Visit www.visitbeaufort.com.au for more information.