Named after the Creswick family, the pioneer settlers of the region, this gold rush era town lies 130km northwest of Melbourne in the shire of Hepburn. During the Gold rush era, Creswick had a peak population of 25,000, but the 2016 Australian census puts the population at 3170.
Creswick is the birthplace of former Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin but it is better known for its association with the Lindsays – A family of well-known artists. Famous Lindsays were Percy Lindsay (landscape painter), Sir Lionel Lindsay (printmaker, painter and critic), Norman Lindsay (painter, sculptor and writer), Ruby Lindsay (illustrator) and Sir Daryl Lindsay (painter and arts administrator).
Creswick entered Australian history books for being the site of Australia’s worst mining disaster in which 22 men drowned on 12th December 1882 at the New Australasian Gold Mine.
Creswick is a visitor’s paradise for its historic buildings, Lindsay art trail and bike and walking trails.
Historic buildings of Creswick
Creswick has many historic building dating back from the Gold rush era. The Anderson’s Mill still stands on the banks of Birch’s creek on the Southern edge of Smeaton, as a powerful reminder of the industries that flourished in the area in the 1850’s. The five story bluestone building and its magnificent iron water wheel are still intact attracting visitors.
The Queen Victoria Bandstand is located in the main street, was built in 1897 to honour Queen Victoria on her diamond jubilee year. At a walkable distance from the Queen Victoria Bandstand is the Old Gold Bank. The branch of the Bank of New South Wales was established in 1854 and the current building was opened in 1860 and extensions to the building were made in later years. Creswick Havilah Masonic Lodge was opened in 1890. Just opposite to the Masonic Lodge is the School of Mines building which began its life as State Savings Bank in 1890. Creswick is also home to many heritage listed Church buildings.
The art trail of the Lindsay family
Creswick is the birthplace and home to the Lindsay family – many members of which achieved fame and notoriety in the field of arts. Norman Lindsay was a famous painter and also wrote 11 comic novels and illustrated 30 other books. Sir Lionel Lindsay was a printmaker; Sir Daryl Lindsay was director of National Gallery of Victoria and a water colourist; Ruby Lindsay was an illustrator; and Percy Lindsay was both a painter and a distinguished art teacher.
The Lindsay Art Trail highlights the sites and buildings in Creswick that have significance to the Lindsay family. At each site there is a description explaining why the site was important to the family.
The Lindsay Art trail passes through
The Lindsay’s second family home, The former Wesleyan Church Site, Creswick Grammar School, British Hotel, Former Chinese Camp, The Gully, The Creswick Railway Station, The State School, Napier Street, Percy Lindsay Paintings, The Old Australasia Bank, The former School of Mines, Library and former Post Office, First Lindsay Home, American Hotel, The Creswick Advertiser, Town Hall and Creswick Museum, Old Gold Fields Hospital, The Lake and the Creswick Cemetery.
Creswick walk and Bike trails
Creswick has ten trails for all ages and stages. Beginning with one of Australia’s first foresters and large scale experimental tree growers, John La Gerche, the town of Crewick has won renown for its dedication to trees of all types. It has been home to a school of forestry since the turn of the last century. One of the trails takes you through its gracious historic precinct.
Once a booming gold rush era town, Creswick’s population was in 1885 eight times greater than it is today. Remnants of its rich heritage are dotted along the walking and cycling trails. The tranquil waters of St Georges lake originated as a mining dame for the Creswick State Battery, which crushed quartz for gold well into this century.
For serious mountain bikers, cross country bush trails to the south and east link into the Goldfield track, opening a world of possibilities. For maps and guide to goldfield tracks visit http://gdt.org.au/
Calembeen Park Circuit – Short – 1Km – 15 minutes walking – Mostly gentle wide gravel surfaced path (Walk/ Cycle Trail)
Park Lake Circuit – Short – 1km – 30 minutes walking – Gentle on Variable surface (Walk/ Cycle Trail)
Le Gerche Gully loop – Short – 2.4km – 60 minutes walking – Up and down on variable surface (Walking trail)
School of Forestry Loop – Short – 1km- 40 minutes walking – Gentle on made paths, but no marked routes
St Georges Lake Loop – Short – 2.2Km – 35 minutes walking – Adventurous, son a sometimes narrow steep path (Walk only trail)
Creswick Creek Loop – Short – 4.8km – 75 minutes walking – Gentle, on bitumen roads and signed Goldfield Tracks (Walk/ Cycle Trail)
Town Centre to Forest Resort – Medium – 6km- 1.5hours walking return trip – Gentle on variable surfaced path (Walk/ Cycle Trail)
Creswick Township loop – Mountain Bike trail – Long – Half to one day depending on how many trails you link. – Adventurous, follow the road named in red but not always signed
Jackass loop – Mountain bike trail – Adventurous, 5.5km – 1hour cycling – Up and down on the Goldfields Track and bush tracks
Slaty Creek Lasso Loops – Mountain Bike Trail – Adventurous 10 -12 km – 2 hours cycling – some steep pitches and rough bush tracks which are not always signed at intersections
Creswick Woollen Mills
This is Australia’s last running coloured woollen mill. The mill has been designing and manufacturing since 1947 as a family run operation. Here you can learn about the production of wool with a fun and interactive exhibition. The mill shop sells unique alpaca products produced at the Mill. The mill has a history tour, an Alpaca experience tour where famer Cameroon, their residential animal expert will walk you through enclosure allowing you to get up close and personal with animals including alpacas, sheep and goat and feed and pat them.
Creswick Woollen Mills – Open 7 days a week 9am to 5pm
Address: Railway Pde, Creswick
School of Forestry
A royal commission in 1897 declared Wombat State Forest area as a ruined forest. To control its exploitation, the Government created a forests department and in 1910 Victorian School of Forestry was founded in Creswick. Its aim was to train people to manage and regulate activities in the state’s forests.
The Tremearne house which is part of the forestry school today was built by a doctor of the same name in 1881 at the height of Victorian land boom. Now owned by the University of Melbourne, the School of forestry continues to teach Eco science and wildfire research following recommendations of the Black Sunday Royal Commission. Go uphill past the Tremearne house and you reach the grand Tudor architecture of the Old Creswick Hospital built in 1863. It was here that injured miners were brought from Australia’s greatest mining disaster at the Australia mine in 1882, in which 22 lives were lost but 5 were miraculously saved.
How to reach Creswick
Creswick 130 Km from Melbourne CBD, is around 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne through the Western Freeway.
Direct train service by Vline is available from Southern Cross Station and regular bus service available from Ballarat. Details at Vline.com.au