Nestled amongst the rolling hills and river red gums of the Glenelg River valley, Casterton is roughly halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide and is centrally located to the Great Ocean Road, Grampians, Wimmera and Coonawarra Regions.
An ideal overnight stop, Casterton will tempt you to stay longer as you explore the legendary history of the ”Kelpie Country” and the abundance of native flora and fauna.
The town’s leafy streets, heritage buildings and friendly country hospitality make it a pleasure to stay and enjoy the wide range of amenities available to visitors, which includes Galleries, Antiques, Cafes, Boutiques & specialty stores, ”Artists of the Valley” at Gormans Art Gallery, Leisure & sporting facilities, Fishing, Playgrounds and free sheltered electric BBQ & picnic areas.
The Kanal Gundidg clan, one of 37 clans belonging to the Jardwadjali language group, occupied this area for thousands of years before white settlement. Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to explore the Casterton region in 1836. Mitchell was enthralled with the captivating beauty and the prized grazing lands of the countryside and he named the district ”Australia Felix”, meaning ”Fortunate Land”. The Henty brothers moved into the region in 1837, taking up huge pastoral runs along the rivers. Many other settlers followed, the first hotel was built in 1846 and by 1852 Casterton township was gazetted. The Casterton Community Museum, located in the historic Railway Precinct is home to a wide array of fascinating memorabilla and is open by appointment.
Warrock Homestead, north of Casterton, is the birthplace of the Kelpie breed of working Australian cattle and sheep dog. The original pup known as ‘Kelpie’ was born in 1871; her parents being a pair of black and tan Collies imported from Scotland by Warrock’s owner George Robertson. Robertson had a policy of not selling females from the stock but had given a pup to his nephew. Jack Gleeson, a drover working at nearby Dunrobin Homestead wanted to buy a female pup but could not obtain one from Robertson. The nephew initially refused to sell but was eventually persuaded to swap the pup for a horse which he fancied. Gleeson named the pup ”kelpie”, meaning ”a malignant water sprite haunting the fjords and streams in the shape of a horse’. Shortly after, Gleeson left the district and Kelpie was mated with working dogs in Ardlethan, NSW. The progeny created the bloodlines of the Kelpie breed, with one of the original litter going on to come equal first in a trial in 1878.
The Australian Kelpie Muster, held each Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June is nationally and internationally renowned. The Festival is filled with fun activities, novelty Kelpie events and working displays which celebrate and demonstrate the Kelpie’s amazing skills and temperament. On Sunday, the Working Dog Auction provides a unique chance to observe superior working dogs demonstrate their skills before sale, at the rich auction. Monday’s Working Dog School provides invaluable training to both professional and aspiring Kelpies and owners.
An easy walk around town, the Kelpie Walking Trail links five unique sculptures to reveal the fascinating life and times of the Kelpie. The statues feature interpretive signage and the walker can select from three routes. Route 1 – takes you via the main shopping district with its heritage-themed streetscape, while Route 2 is slightly longer and takes in wonderful River Red-Gums and the historic Railway Precinct. Route 3 compromises the River Walking Trail, along the beautiful banks of the Glenelg River.
Casterton is alive with a variety of events throughout the year. The Vintage and Veteran Car Rally and Polocrosse tournament on the March long weekend, and Casterton Cup Carnival on the last Sunday in May. The town’s major event, the Australian Working Dog Auction & Kelpie Festival, plus the Clarice Beckett Art Award held over the June long weekend.
November is host to the Casterton Agriculture Show, Casterton Street Drags and the nearby Merino Community Festival. At the end of November the Casterton Christmas Carnival heralds the start of Christmas festivities.
Parks & Recreation
Ess Lagoon offers a picnic and fishing area and is regularly stocked with trout. The Railway Reserve features a railway-themed playground and shady rotunda. Apex Park is a popular BBQ stop. Both Bryan Park near the hospital and the Rotary Rest Point, near the Jack Gleeson statue on the riverbank have fun playgrounds. Island Park Recreation Reserve offers a full range of sporting facilities including a Caravan Park, electric BBQ, playground, Olympic swimming pool, bowling club, croquet lawn, tennis courts and sports ovals. A modern Skate Park is located opposite Island Park. Casterton also has an 18 hole golf course, racecourse and indoor sporting facilities.
The Wilkin Flora and Fauna reserve covers 3600 hectares with 4WD and 2WD track access. Mill Swamp is of interest to bird watchers – a bird list is available from the Casterton Visitor Information Centre. Along with birds, spring wildflowers and a beautiful attraction from August to October in the Long Lead Swamp, Tower & Carmichael Track areas.
Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo of are particular interest. These rare birds are in danger of extinction, the sub-species South Eastern Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo is only found in South-West Victoria and South East South Australia. These magnificent birds feed on the seeds of Brown Stringybarks (Eucalyptus baxteri) and Bulokes (Allocasuarina spp.) and nest in old River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) or Yellow Gums (Eucalyptus leucoxylon).
Ess Lagoon offers a wildlife viewing opportunity that is generally more accessible than Wilkin Flora and Fauna Reserve where a wide variety of bird species can be readily found along its’ shores. The lagoon itself is also stocked with trout, so prospective anglers can try their luck!
Bailey’s Rocks are a collection of giant green granite boulders in the Dergholm State Park. Formed 500 million years ago, they are easily accessible by two well defined walking tracks. Camping, picnics, walking, orienteering, scenic and four wheel driving are popular pastimes. Don’t forget your camera!
High above the town centre, Casterton’s Mickle Lookout offers a prime photo opportunity with magnificent views, looking straight down the main street. The view back to the lookout from the main street, especially at night, when the huge ‘Fleur De Lys’ (Scout) emblem is illuminated.
A sapling in 1200 AD, this River Red Gum is reputed to contain the largest volume of millable timber of the species. The tree’s girth is measured at 7.26 metres and height at 40m.
Access to the short walking track and interpretive signboard is via Glenmia Road, 29km along the Casterton-Edenhope Road. Glenmia Road is unsuitable for large or towing vehicles.
A unique opportunity to visit a historic homestead, approximately 24 minutes north of Casterton, Warrok Homestead is a collection of 36 hand-built Gothic/Colonial style buildings; 33 of which are classified “A” by the National Trust. These buildings were constructed by a cabinet maker named George Robertson in 1843 and remains one of Victoria’s best examples of self-sufficient homestead life in the 19th century. “Warrock” is named after the indigenous word for the Silver Banksia, which grew in the area.
Sample some of the regions fine spirits at Casterton Distilling Company in their historic 1900’s era building – the Albion Hotel. The Casterton Distilling Co. Specialises in small batch, hand crafted Gin. Visitors can sample various styles and even have the opportunity to watch the crafting process. For those wishing to explore this passion further, master classes are offered.
Situated in the on the red gum-studded rolling hills of the Henty tableland, in Wando Vale, south-west Victoria. It is a single variety vineyard of one hectare, devoted exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon and managed according to organic principles.
The wine is produced without interference (via chemicals or other) in French oak barrels, by renowned winemaker, Sue Bell, of Bellwether, Coonawarra SA. The result is a wine which naturally reflects its origins, described as an elegant, European style red wine.
The birthplace of the Kelpie dog, Casterton’s Visitor Information Centre offers a museum where you can learn about the rich history of the Kelpie breed in Australia. This state-of-the-art Henty Street facility, situated in the heart of the Kelpie Walking Trail, includes an interpretative display showcasing the history of this iconic working dog and story of Victoria’s first in-land European settlement.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.