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Situated on the Western Highway, Ararat is a major regional centre in Victoria’s mid-west with direct road and rail linkages to Melbourne, Ballarat and Adelaide.

Ararat is located in the Central Highlands and is part of Victoria’s ‘Grampians’ region. It is one of the largest cities in the region with a population of 8,297 people. Other population centres in the municipality include the rural towns of Willaura, Lake Bolac, Moyston, Pomonal, Buangor and Elmhurst. Ararat is the principal service centre containing the principal service centre containing the widest range and highest level of retail, commercial and recreational facilities in the region. The municipality borders Northern Grampians Shire to the north, Pyrenees Shire to the east as well as Moyne, Corangamite and Southern Grampians.

The Grampians Region is home to a variety of tourism assets including the Grampians National Park. Destinations within the Grampians receive 1.3 million domestic day trippers annually, originating from both within and outside the region, and 880,000 overnight visitors. While Ararat Rural City is located outside the Grampians National Park, it is considered ‘The Gateway to The Grampians’ and there is tremendous potential to leverage off the visitation and tourism infrastructure already in place.

The Grampians Region has developed a significant destination profile through its values for nature-based and outdoors adventure activities. Surrounding the Grampians National Park are extensive agricultural areas and their service towns. Tourist visitation to these areas is predominantly driven through food, wine and heritage-related product. In 2013-14, the tourism industry contributed an estimated $1.0 billion to the Grampians economy (21.2% of gross regional product) and employed approximately 9,200 people (20.1% of regional employment). It generates an estimated $295 million in direct economic output for the five local government partners, including Ararat.

Campaspe, located in north central Victoria, is approximately 180 kilometres north of Melbourne. It includes the communities of Echuca, Kyabram, Rochester, Lockington, Gunbower, Rushworth, Stanhope and Tongala as well as many smaller areas outside of these main townships. The shire is located in the heart of one of the richest and most diverse agriculture and food processing areas in Victoria. Its climate, history, cultural heritage, natural assets and location in relation to major urban centres provide the shire with extensive opportunities. The shire encompasses a total land area of more than 4,500 square kilometres with an estimated residential population of 37,600 people.

Located at the geographical centre of Victoria, the shire is within one hour’s drive from the regional cities of Ballarat and Bendigo and just two hours from Melbourne.

Central Goldfields Shire covers 1,532 square kilometres and has an estimated residential population of just over 12,500 people.

Maryborough is the shire’s major business centre, and has gained recognition in recent years as having some of the finest sporting facilities in regional Victoria, together with significant historical buildings dating back to the goldmining era of the 1850s.

Other towns in the shire include Bealiba, Carisbrook, Dunolly, Majorca, Talbot, Bowenvale-Timor, Daisy Hill and rural districts surrounding these centres. All are famous for their heritage architecture and significant agricultural industries.

Central Goldfields Shire townships
Town Population
Bealiba: 300
Carisbrook: 1,143
Dunolly: 908
Maryborough: 7,630
Talbot: 715

Ballarat is the largest centre in Western Victoria and the fastest growing inland city in Victoria.

Ballarat has a thriving local economy. In 2019, the size of the economy was valued at $14.937 billion, representing growth of over 44 per cent in the ten years from 2010 (Source: REMPLAN Economy 2020).

In 2019, there were 8,857 registered businesses in the Ballarat region (Source: ABS, Cat. 8165.0 Feb 2020), including major international companies such as IBM Global Services, McCain Foods, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Alstom and MaxiTrans – all of which reflect Ballarat’s dynamic economic base.

Nationally recognised brands were born in Ballarat, including the hugely successful Petstock and R&J Batteries, both with over 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand.

Supporting the thriving economy is a strong community foundation with a proud history.

Long before Europeans arrived, the Ballarat district was home to many Aboriginal tribes collectively known as the Wadawurrung peoples, to the north. The city is home to several significant Aboriginal cultural heritage sites and living traditions and Aboriginal people remain strongly connected to their Country today.

By the mid-1830’s, pastoralists had moved into the area and gold was discovered at Poverty Point in 1851, at which point Ballarat grew as miners flocked from around the globe to the world’s richest alluvial goldfield.

Today Ballarat is said to be ‘among the finest and most architecturally-notable surviving historic gold cities in the world’ (Gamble).

In the 21st century Ballarat continues to attract people to the city and in 2019 almost 110,000 people were calling Ballarat home, a 2.03% increase on the previous year (Source: ProfileID April 2020).

The Ballarat community is proud, connected and innovative, and draws people and businesses from across Australia and from around the world.

Greater Bendigo has played a significant role in the history of Australia as one of the country’s largest, richest and important goldfields and now as a major regional Victorian city.

The discovery of gold in the Bendigo Creek in 1851 sparked a rush of people to the area, transforming a remote and quiet valley into a prosperous and thriving city. While Bendigo owes much of its bright future to the legacies provided by its rich golden past, it has gone on to become one of Australia’s most progressive and beautiful cities boasting a growing population of more than 116,000 people and an enviable lifestyle for its residents – in short it’s a great place to live, work, invest, play and raise a family.

Located north of the Great Dividing Range in the exact geographic centre of Victoria, Bendigo enjoys a temperate climate featuring dry summers, cool winters, sunny springs, mild autumns and beautiful blue skies.

Bendigo is strategically placed with easy access to ports, excellent road and rail infrastructure, and a recently upgraded airport. It is within a 100-minute drive or rail trip to central Melbourne and a 90 minute drive to Melbourne Airport.

Bendigo is accessed by the Calder, McIvor, Midland, Loddon Valley and Wimmera Highways.

Situated between Geelong and Ballarat and within a stones’ throw from Melbourne, Golden Plains is a vibrant and beautiful Shire populated with passionate residents and progressive businesses. The sweeping landscapes, award-winning businesses and rugged bush landscapes combine with historic townships and growing communities make for a wonderful place to live or visit.

Hepburn Shire is located in central Victoria, just over an hour from Melbourne. Hepburn is the ‘Spa Capital of Australia’. Hepburn Springs is world famous for providing traditional wellness bathing and sparkling waters since 1895.

Renowned for indulgence, relaxation and its spectacular heritage buildings, parks, reserves and native forests it is a favourite with local and international visitors and tourists. Located in central Victoria and easible access from Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo, it is a great place for holidaying, health and for day trips.

Loddon Shire is located 175 kms north west of Melbourne and within the central Victorian goldfields which is part of the area known as Victoria’s ‘Golden Triangle’. It has an area of almost 6,700 square kilometres.

The geography of the Shire is diverse with rolling hills and box-ironbark forests, granite outcrops, pockets of premium agricultural land as well as the river in the south which brings tourist and lifestyle benefits. In contrast, the northern part of the Shire features broad flat plains of dry land, wetlands, rivers, lakes, woodlands and irrigated farming areas as well as granite outcrops and well-preserved heritage and cultural features.

Agriculture is the main activity, with traditional produce including fat lambs, fine wool, dairy, poultry, pigs and cereal cropping. Recently more intensive forms of agriculture and horticulture have developed – including wine grapes, tomato growing, olives, oil seeds, pulses, and fodder crops, particularly in the irrigated areas in the north of the Shire and along the Loddon River. The municipality is characterised by a number of small towns dispersed throughout the area. Wineries and historic and natural attractions complement agricultural activity.

Macedon Ranges Shire is a semi-rural municipality, located within an hours’ drive of Melbourne’s central business district to the south and Bendigo to the north.

The shire’s most important industry is tourism.

This region is popular with both domestic and international visitors, due to its natural attractions, wineries, and its proximity and accessibility to the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Moorabool Shire has a rich and varied history including historic buildings and assets, heritage streetscapes, Avenues of Honour and individual trees, and heritage landscapes much of which has strong associations with gold discovery and the highway route to Ballarat. There are also numerous sites of Aboriginal heritage within the Shire.

The population of Moorabool Shire increased significant with the discovery of goldfields at Blackwood, Barrys Reef, Simmons Reef, Gordon, Mt Egerton, Mt Doran, Dolly’s Creek, Morrisons and Elaine from the early 1850s. Physical evidence of this gold mining activity still exists in these towns today, in a myriad of water races, open shafts and tunnels, tailings dumps and mullock heaps, dams, exposed open cuts, and domestic artefacts including stone fireplaces and building foundations.

Council supports of the protection of heritage, and is fully supportive of the bid for UNESCO World Heritage Listing of the Central Victorian Goldfields Region.

Mount Alexander Shire has much to offer, from beautiful heritage streetscapes and picturesque townships to stunning natural surroundings, a thriving local economy and a strong and vibrant cultural life.

Our elected Councillors provide local governance to a thriving community of more than 18,000 residents, inhabiting an area of 1,529 square kilometres, divided into five wards.

Located in Central Victoria, there are properties and facilities for all lifestyles, from young families to retirees. From health and education to sporting and retail, Mount Alexander has it all, without compromising the importance of the environment and a peaceful and relaxed lifestyle.

For visitors, the region offers wonderful opportunities to explore its rich heritage, the natural environment, a wide selection of award-winning local produce and a range cultural activities and events.

Mount Alexander has a rich heritage of cultural landscapes, buildings, infrastructure and historical collections which shape our identity and pride of place, connecting us to our past, our future and our region.

Our heritage is valuable not only to us, but to a broader community of people who visit or recognise the historical significance of our region. The Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park is listed on the National Heritage List, Maldon is recognised as Australia’s first notable town and there are thousands of sites and places listed on the State register and local heritage schedules.

Council seeks to celebrate and protect this valuable heritage by implementing a Heritage Strategy and undertaking strategic planning studies to better identify and assess our heritage.

The Northern Grampians Shire is rich with lifestyle opportunities and facilities. It offers a secure, rural setting, an enviable climate and excellent health and community services. Whether you choose country acres, a period home or a modern townhouse, realistic real estate prices mean you can genuinely afford to enjoy your choice of lifestyle.

More than 11,500 people call this district home. Together they are a welcoming, united community, drawn from diverse backgrounds.

Outstanding sporting, recreational and leisure services make for a spirited, energetic population endowed with an exceptional natural environment. Among the myriad of activities on offer are bush walking, rock climbing, boating, fishing, swimming, racquetball, squash, cricket, basketball, badminton, netball, football, shooting sports and hockey. Managed facilities include bowling greens, golf courses, tennis courts, racecourses, sports and aquatic centre, outdoor swimming pools, sports ovals, libraries, entertainment centres and service clubs. If the arts are more your taste, you’ll be inspired by galleries, museums and a lively network of like-minded enthusiasts.

Transport, communication, utilities and services infrastructure are well developed. The shire’s two first-class hospitals, medical centres, helicopter and radio ambulance services provide the very best in medical care and are complemented by extensive patient services including pathology, radiology, physiotherapy, visiting surgeons and specialists, youth services and community-based health education and support services. Residents with disabilities are well catered for through a network focused on community integration.

Pyrenees Shire is situated on the lands of the Wadawurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Eastern Maar, and Wotjobaluk tribes.  We pay our respects to the customs, traditions and stewardship of the land by the Elders and people of these tribes.

Our Shire has a rich gold-mining and agricultural history, set in an attractive natural environment.  Today, Pyrenees Shire has a strong winemaking focus alongside its agricultural base and tourism as key economic sectors.  We have an active and growing art scene.

The heritage townships of Beaufort and Avoca are together home to over 2,500 people and offer a diverse range of boutique retailers and award-winning hospitality businesses.  Pyrenees Shire has many historic townships, all with their own unique origin story and distinct identity.

State Parks and Nature Conservation Reserves are throughout the Shire.  Open expanses of agricultural land sit alongside undulating and mountainous landscapes.  With wide opportunities for hiking, climbing, camping, fishing, mountain biking and other recreation activities, our diverse landscapes showcase the natural assets just waiting to be discovered.

The Victorian Goldfields Tourism Executive (VGTE) is the Regional Tourism Board for the Goldfields region and its designated functions include providing leadership in the development of the World Heritage Listing Bid for the Central Victorian Goldfields. This leadership has included initiation and partnership of various symposiums and other activities in recent years and actively championing the Bid and its benefits. The VGTE is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the Bid and partners with the City of Ballarat and the City of Greater Bendigo to provide leadership and direction of the development of the Sustainable Tourism component of the Bid in line with UNESCO requirements and expectations.

During 2020, the VGTE has allocated $100,000 towards the development of the Sustainable Tourism component to enable two consultancies to be undertaken to develop a Sustainable Tourism Toolkit which will form the first stage of the Sustainable Tourism program. The VGTE through its Chair, Chris Meddows-Tayor is represented on the Project Control Group for both projects, alongside Susan Fayad, Trevor Budge and Regional Development Victoria.

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