MYRTLEFORD

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Myrtleford is on the Great Alpine Road about 3 hours drive from Melbourne and about 30 mins from Beechworth and Bright. It was first occupied by Europeans in 1837 when John Hillas established land on the banks of Myrtle Creek (now Barwidgee Creek). The name of the town is from a crossing, or ford, of the creek for gold prospectors making their way south from the Beechworth goldfields, to the goldfields of the Ovens and Buckland Valleys. Prospectors would stop at Myrtle Creek and a store was opened in 1856. In 1858 the town name of Myrtleford was made official.

Gold was discovered around Myrtleford in the 1850’s and in 1854 a gold bearing quartz reef was found at Reform Hill and a mine established producing 600 kg of gold until 1888. Today a picturesque walk can be enjoyed up Reform Hill to a lookout that takes in views of the town, Mt Buffalo and High Country beyond. The start of the walk is in Jones Park alongside the Great Alpine Road and the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail on the south side of Myrtleford where a 5 head gold battery, or stamper, is on display that was used from 1878 along nearby Buffalo Creek.

The ‘Big Tree’, on Smith St, is said to be over 200 years old, the largest Red Gum in the district and has a girth of over 9 metres, height over 23 metres and became a meeting place for people when the railway came to town in 1883. The ‘Phoenix Tree’ was sculptured by Hans Knorr, a prisoner in the nearby World War 2 Prisoner of War Camp. The tree is a Red Gum and the base of the trunk and roots are on display as you enter Myrtleford on the Great Alpine Road from the West.

The Prisoner of War Camp was located between Myrtleford and Whorouly during World War 2 and held over 1000 Italians who were captured in North Africa. After the war ended, they were all returned back to Italy but between 10 – 20% returned to the Myrtleford district to work in tobacco and other agriculture.  Myrtleford has a rich Italian history, with tobacco being farmed in the district from the 1920’s when Italians started arriving but after the war period the industry grew, as did migration from Europe with most migrants arriving in the district being from Italy. Italian culture and cuisine is celebrated nowadays with the annual La Fiera Festival in May.

Lake Buffalo, about 20km south of Myrtleford, is a popular place for water skiing, fishing, swimming and picnics and about halfway out to the lake is the Nug Nug Reserve Campground, along the Buffalo River, where powered and unpowered sites (fees apply) are available including toilet blocks, cold showers, tennis court, netball/basketball court, BBQ and fireplaces. The reserve is operated on a first come first served basis and caravans can be accommodated. Follow this link for more information on Nug Nug Reserve Campground.

Fishing in the Ovens River and nearby streams is popular and there is a large adventure playground.  There are several walks, from the township historic walk, interpretive discovery walk, Ovens River loop and Reform Hill Track.   Myrtleford has 2 supermarkets, a range of accommodation and dining options, including country pubs and many services.

An annual event that thousands enjoy every Boxing day is the Golden Spurs Rodeo.  Starting mid afternoon and finishing late, it’s an entertaining spectacle with commentary, music, a big screen to see all the action replays and a range of catering available,  making this a popular family event.  There’s also a huge variety of walks to enjoy across the district, from short town strolls to alpine hikes. An extensive guide book covering all the walks in detail around these towns, the nearby alps and also including Mt Beauty, Bright and surrounding towns is available here