Uncover a hidden gem. Settled on the banks of the Eumeralla River, Macarthur is the gateway to the spectacular Budj Bim National Park. It’s a magnet for those seeking adventure in the nearby National Park’s hiking and biking tracks, lava canals and rare caves. While Budj Bim’s rich indigenous history and World Heritage listing puts Macarthur on the radar, there’s more to this quaint town than meets the eye.
Add these to your must-do list: sipping a glass of fine red at the local winery, marvelling at the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, or stepping out on a self-guided historical tour of town.
The land surrounding the township of Macarthur is rich and fertile. Evidence of volcanic activity is obvious as Mt Eccles. About September 1836 explorer Major Mitchell, when returning from the Portland Bay settlement, marked and named Mt Eeles on his map. William Eeles was a friend of Mitchell’s who had fought with him in the Peninsula War. It seems a typographical error in the Surveyor General’s Department sometime about 1845 changed the name to Mt Eccles and this has been the name ever since.
In the very early days of our settlement most areas in our state had been taken up under pastoral licenses. This was also the case in the Macarthur district. The township of Macarthur lies at the junction of three pastoral licenses “Eumeralla West”, “Eumeralla East” and “Blackfellows Creek”. When the first Europeans arrived they displaced the native Aboriginal people, who had lived in the area for thousands of years.
John Turner surveyed the township in early 1857 and it was he who changed the name from the Aboriginal name “Eumeralla” to Macarthur after Administrator Macarthur, eldest son of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, acknowledged as the founders of Australia’s merino sheep industry.
However, prior to the surveying of the township a hotel had been established near the river crossing on the main Port Fairy to Hamilton Road and this hotel appears to have been the Macarthur township’s first building. A land sale held at the hotel in July 1857 proved successful and many blocks were taken up by settlers who formed the founding community of this small town.
A well known identity in those early years was Thomas Alexander Browne, perhaps better known as Rolf Boldrewood, author of the Australian classic Robbery Under Arms. Browne held the pastoral license for “Squattlesea Mere” – south-west of Macarthur – from around 1844, although he was not particularly successful as a pastoralist. He later wrote of his time in the Macarthur district in his book Old Melbourne Memories.
Originally Macarthur was part of the municipal area covered by the Belfast Roads Board. In 1870 Macarthur became part of the newly formed Shire of Minhamite. In 1994 the Shire of Minhamite joined with other small adjoining shires and the Borough of Port Fairy to form the Moyne Shire Council.
Time-travel to a hidden past as you follow the Macarthur Heritage Trail. Discover a series of plaques telling the story of times-gone-by, from the old Baker’s Shop to the police gaol cell. Visit the courthouse and explore a rich archive of family lines, news and tales from the past. Book ahead to explore the exact replica of Gordon Lucas’ Barber Shop, complete with memorabilia and rare advertising from the 1930s-70s.
Summer is the season for family fun in Macarthur. Enjoy a spot of tennis on the AstroTurf. Sizzle up those sausages on the undercover BBQ while the little ones burn up energy in the fully-fenced playground. Dip a toe in Macarthur’s ultimate country pool complete with water slide, and cool down with an ice-cream on the sprawling lawns. Embrace the town’s warm community feel.
Discover a local treasure – Victoria’s third oldest pub complete with circa 1860 bluestone walls, Baltic timber flooring and timber bar. Now operating as a retreat for war veterans, the Macarthur Hotel continues its age-old watering hole tradition for a limited clientele and during special events.
UNESCO World Heritage listed.
Budj Bim National Park, previously known as Mount Eccles, is home to a tranquil crater lake, lava canals and caves in a lush bushland setting. Enjoy a picnic, camp and walk among Manna Gums teeming with native wildlife. Discover the rich cultural heritage of Budj Bim and the natural wonders of this ancient, volcanic landscape.
Suffoir Vineyard, a family owned and operated boutique winery, brewery and cidery has a selection of wines and craft beers to choose from, including our very own Pinot Noir!
A rare site to behold! The Tumuli Lava Blisters are one of only three sites in the world where this geological phenomenon occurs. The blisters formed when lava flow spread from Mount Napier and formed a thin crust. When pressure from beneath forced the crust to crack open the hot lava bubbled up and formed mounds, each the size of a small house. You can eyeball the blisters from Old Crusher Road near Byaduk, 20 minutes from Macarthur. The tumuli are on private property, so please view them from the road unless you’re with an accredited tour operator.
Not only is the Macarthur Wind Farm Australia’s largest, it’s the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Wind your way down country lanes, and just five minutes from the centre of town you’ll find the turbines spinning in the breeze. Head out during a blue-sky-day to snap a dreamy shot, or for something truly spectacular, rise early and watch the sun creep up over the wind farm. It’ll bring with it
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawuurung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Ancestors, 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.