For many who visit Chiltern, it is a quick visit, a drive-through while on a journey to another place but there are so many wonderful things to do in Chiltern that go undiscovered and missed by many. The buildings can tell a story and if you have time so can the locals that call this unique town home.
As you drive into Chiltern it can feel like you’ve suddenly time-travelled back to the last century. Its beautiful green spaces are wide and open welcoming all who want to explore Chiltern.
The old buildings look like they are straight out of an old-time movie set and you feel like you need to wait for the horse and carriage to come clacking along.
Chiltern, Victoria Australia
Chiltern, Victoria is one of the best-preserved gold rush-era towns in Victoria. Built in the 1850s to cater for the large influx of miners looking to find their fortunes in the area it is now a sleepy village that prides itself on its long heritage.
Like most gold mining towns once the gold was gone so were most of the inhabitants as they moved to greener or golden pastures. What is left is all that they needed and we get to enjoy that today.
Best things to do in Chiltern Victoria
When you visit Chiltern you can easily park at the tourist information centre and walk the town before finding some of the other top things to do in Chiltern only a short drive away. There are plenty of shops to look in and interesting things to learn about this amazing Victorian Town.
Walk the main street
Step back in time and wander the main street of Chiltern. You find brick double-storey buildings with wide-open timber verandahs that look like they are straight out of a period drama. There are plenty of little shops for you to have a look in and the bakery does a mean salad roll or a pie if you fancy one.
You can also easily get to all of the main attractions in Chiltern from here. Don’t miss a picture at the red phone box or check out the popular knitted artwork by Chiltern’s Yarn bombers that the town proudly displays at different times throughout the year.
Historic buildings on the main streetscape to admire:
- The Star Theatre
- Chiltern Athenaeum
- London House
- Telegraph Hotel
- Bank of Australasia
- Gilmor Corner Store
- Bank of New South Wales
- The Ironbark Tavern
- The Old Ampol Servo
- Masonic Hall
Marvel at Australia’s oldest grapevine
What is different about this vine is it’s not in a vineyard and it’s not surrounded by other vines which you would expect. Hidden away in a courtyard in Chiltern is Australia’s oldest grapevine. Its huge trunk seems to come just out of a small hole in the concrete into this massive vine that is as high as the roof of the courtyard.
Initially planted in 1867 from a cutting it still produces an abundance of fruit with its biggest haul in 1936 and one bunch weighed a spectacular 6.5 kilos! You can see the famous Australian vine through the gate if the area is closed.
The Chiltern Athenaeum Museum is a smaller collection of memorabilia from local community members. The brick building that stands now was originally built in 1866 replacing the timber building that housed the town library, town hall and council chambers.
When the new library was built in 1970 some books were left behind starting the museum as we know it today. Here you will find information on Pioneer families, local WWI heroes and gold field discoveries.
*When we visited Chiltern the museum was closed. The museum is volunteer-run and depends on them being free and able to open. At times this is difficult in such a small town so you may find it difficult to visit.
This stunning lake right across the road from Lakeview House was made from the Alliance Gold Mine. As the earth around the old mine sank it made the lake which is now a wildlife and bird refuge.
Around the lake, you will find plenty of places to sit and enjoy the surroundings. You can easily include a picnic with some undercover areas as well as some playground equipment and a short walking track.
Built-in the 1870s this stunning red brick house is surrounded by a beautiful large garden. From the wide verandah that wraps itself around the old house, you get a magical look at them and the nearby Lake Anderson.
Inside you will find so many treasures of yesteryear that have been lovingly cared for by the National Trust of Victoria. You will also find memorabilia of Ethel Florence Richardson whose penname was Henry Handel Richardson in the house as well. Ethel moved to Lake View House when she was 6 and referenced Lakeview in a book she wrote later in life under a fictional name. Including Lakeview house in your Chiltern itinerary is a must.
Visit the Old Court House
The Chiltern Courthouse dates back to 1865 and was still in use up until the 1970s. While inside has some of the more modern comforts it is still largely as it was back in the day. It may not see the same action it did in its heyday but community events and meetings are still held within its 3 meeting areas.
Here you can easily visit the Chiltern Lockup and the Chiltern Post Office.
The Chiltern Lockup
This has to be the one lock-up in the world where you ask for the keys and are given them for entry. You can collect the keys from the Chiltern Tourist Information Center and either drive or take the stunning walk through the pleasant streets to the Chiltern Lock up.
You’ll find the lock-up at the back of the Chiltern Post Office down a path at the side. The plaque out the front will tell you about the history and once you work out the lock and get inside there is also plenty of information on the walls about past inhabitants.
It’s a great little side trip in Chiltern and is one that will excite even the kids on your trip. Plus what other lock-up in the world will happily give you the keys?
Medicine and those who conducted it back in the 1800s were of a different world than what we have in this day and age. As we look at some of the ways they treated pain and suffering it boggles us as to how it was allowed.
At Dow’s Pharmacy, you can peak at some of the types of potions and solutions that the local doctors would have had with them to treat some of the more common and not so common too. See if you can spot some of the ones that make you shiver at the thought!
The Federal Standard Printing Works
One way that news spread fast in a gold mining town other than word of mouth was through the local newspaper. The Federal Standard Priting Works building was home to the local printing press that was the lifeblood of news to the goldfields.
You can read the plaque out the front of the building to learn about what the newspaper featured and how it got the news out to all the locals and the influx of miners that followed the gold around the state of Victoria.
Do a bit of shopping
Like most small country towns you can always find some very unique little shops with local produce or locally made artwork. You can find something in them for everyone and you won’t leave Chiltern without something unique to remember your trip there.
If you really want to buy locally made then a quick look through the helpful Tourist Information centre is a great way to support them and also buy very local!
Many small regional towns have done it hard over the last couple of years and seeing visitors in shops buying even a few small things helps the community more than you think, so if you can please buy something.
Shops in Chiltern:
- Whimsy House
- Little Squirrel
- Chiltern Op Shop
- Lisa Bishop Studio
The Chiltern Garage
While you can’t just pop in and wander around the workshop (it is still an operational garage) you can marvel at the memorabilia that hangs from the walls of this little workshop.
You will see all sorts of motor car paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling and the walls that will take you back many years! Even for people who are not motor enthusiasts, it is still a sight to see as you look through the double doors into the work area.
See some street art
Whether you want to see some street art that has just been finished in the town or some that are decades old and fading on the sides of brick wall there is something for everyone.
At the public toilet block, you will find stunning new artwork on them depicting local fauna. You will also find some weathered old advertising on the large brick walls on the main street.
Also, have a look at some of the windows in the buildings. You will see some still have old sections on them such as Bushelss Teas.
Visit Posh Plonk
Located in the Old Masonic Hall is the local winery called Posh Plonk. It was a dream of the owners to find a rural piece of paradise and here in Chiltern they have! Although the have a small selection of wines they cater for many tastes and are great as a momento of your trip to Chiltern.
You can pick one of the six wines they have on their menu or you can
The Chiltern Walk
The best way to see Chiltern is to walk! All the Chiltern attractions are close together and as you wander the streets of Chiltern you will also discover stunning 1800-styled houses that have been lovingly restored to look just as marvellous as the day they were built.
Some have been made into Bed and Breakfast style accommodations in Chiltern and others are family homes but taking the Chiltern Walk will give you a first-hand look at how the town grew street by street into what it is today.
To start the Chiltern Walk tour you should start at the Tourist Information Center where you can get a free travel guide to Chiltern. Here you will also get some amazing top tips from the volunteers who staff the centre.
There are 20 historic stops on the walk that takes in the Main Street and Conness Streets in Chiltern. Allow at least 1 hour for the walk which is rated easy.
Some of the sites on the Chiltern Walk:
- Bank of New South Wales
- Kilgour’s Blacksmith
- Council Club Hotel
- Chiltern Railway Station
Things to see near Chiltern
While we have tried to base as much as we can in the heart of Chilretn there are a couple of things to see near Chiltern where you may have a short drive.
Only slightly out of town (you can walk there if you choose or if you are doing the Chiltern Walk) is Bellfield. Once hailed as the most beautiful house in town it was built by Andrew Kilgour one of the town’s Blacksmiths. Later it became the Chiltern Private Hospital.
For some visiting a cemetery isn’t top of their must-see lists but going back in time and seeing what is written on the tombstones is heartbreaking. Some people visit them to find past relatives and some to try to understand the workings of a time gone by.
Chiltern Pioneer Cemetery
Originally opened in 1858 for the burial of Joseph Turner it is believed that between 50 and 70 people were buried here before the new Chiltern cemetery was opened in 1860. Unfortunately, no markers for those buries here still remain.
The only remaining markers are the concrete entrance markers.
Old Chiltern Cemetary
It is believed that over 1000 people are buried here and although not the first cemetery in the town it was opened in the 1860s. Many locals did not like the 10 acres chosen as they found it too far away, too wet and at the time there was no fence to protect the grave from wandering animals.
*Whatever reason you are choosing to visit a site like this please remember that people rest in peace here and pay your respects politely.
Gold mining was how some made and lost their fortunes and a lot of that happened around Chiltern. The stories of fame and fortune these mines could tell would stun us and keep us entertained for hours.
The Magenta Mine is located approximately 8 km out of Chiltern. It was opened in 1860 when the Magenta Reef was found and two shafts were sunk to gain access to the gold-bearing ore. The mine ran until about 1910 but was briefly reopened in 1930 during the depression years.
Now you can see one of the shafts from a viewing area and the tunnel that was measured at 30 meters deep to gain access to the gold. On the Magenta Mine site, you can also see where the quartz was crushed with some of the old wooden foundations to the stamper batteries are still visible.
*There is a picnic area on site but no public toilets or other amenities
Yeddonba Aboriginal Cultural Site
The Yeddonba Aboriginal Art site is a sacred cultural site for the local indigenous Dhudhuro people who were the dominant clan in the region and had connections with the Pangarang people of the Goulburn Valley. This area of the Mt Pilot National Park was used by many clans of this area as a passage during migration and as a spiritual and cultural site.
On this 1 kilometre walk along a circular track, you will see many of the significant sites to the Dhudhuro people such as the bush tucker area and a rock shelter. You can easily find these locations with the information boards that are located at significant sites for you to read.
The is also information on the archeological significance of this area as it is home to a red-ochre painting of what is believed to be a Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine). The Thylacine along with the snake and the goanna is the spirit animal of the local clans making this area a very important ritual significance to the clan elders.
Mt Pilot National Park
This stunning Victorian National Park covers over 21,000 hectares and is home to Box-ironbark trees, native grasses and some of the most beautiful bird life in the State. It is home to the Mount Pilot Ranges and the mush visited Woolshed Falls. Some of the sites that we have mentioned above are also featured within the park.
There are plenty of walks within the national park and if you are unable to do then the Chiltern Drive is a perfect way to experience them as well. The Honeyeater picnic area is a great place for a rest in the bush too.
How to get to Chiltern
The quickest and most convenient way to get from Melbourne to Chiltern is by driving, which takes approximately 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train from Melbourne to Albury and then connect to a local bus service to Chiltern. The total journey time by public transportation is approximately 5 hours.
As you can see there are so many wonderful things to do in Chiltern in 2023 that will keep you very busy while you stay in the area. This quaint, friendly village is definitely worth a visit either on a weekend trip or as a part of a day trip from Melbourne city to the north-east of Vic.
If you are looking for more amazing and best places to visit in Victoria or more travel in Victoria destinations search the Explore Victoria website has some more articles below for you to check out. If you have an idea, attraction or top spot feel free to leave us a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org