When Victorians think altitude, they usually think High Country, but the Goldfields, a short-ish drive northwest from Melbourne, have plenty of great lookouts, mountains, hikes and boulder scrambles. You just need to know where to look.
Into the mountains
The Goldfields are known for their rocks, especially gold-bearing quartz. But the landscape’s also littered with outcrops of granite, rising high over the plains. As such, you’re never far from a great view. The best places to start are Mount Moorul, overlooking the little town of Maldon, Mount Warrenhelp, Tipperary Hill, Mount Buninyong, and Mount Egbert, known locally as ‘The Granites’. You can also try the Pyramid Hill summit walk (at 193 metres high, ‘summit’ might be stretching the term, but it’s still a beautiful panorama).
For a sweeping view of the gorgeous Sutton Grange, head to Mount Alexander and scramble your way to Lang’s Lookout, on the eastern side of the bluff. You can also try Kooyoora State Park in Brenanah, where you’ll find the spectacular Melville Caves. In the 1800s, these caves were supposedly the hiding place of notorious bushranger Captain Melville, and the 20-minute walk from the carpark has some cracking vistas.
Closer to town
You don’t have to venture too far for a good view in the Goldfields. Many of the smaller towns are surrounded by hills, peaks and craggy outcrops. If you’re passing through Heathcote, east of Bendigo, make time for a quick hike to the aptly named Viewing Rock. In fact, we recommend a couple of nights here to properly explore the stunning McHarg and McIvor Ranges (not to mention the world-class local wine).
Finally, there’s Black Hill Reserve in Ballarat, a quick nine minute drive from the CBD. Black Hill is mostly known as a mountain biking mecca, but there’s also Black Hill Lookout, which offers great views of the town. Keep an eye out for historic shaft mines, too.