Located on the banks of the Eumeralla River in the Moyne Shire’s north-west, Macarthur is the gateway to the spectacular Budj Bim National Park. This quaint town is increasingly marked on the map of travelers seeking adventure in the nearby National Park’s many hiking and biking tracks, lava canals and rare caves. Budj Bim’s rich Indigenous history and World Heritage listing is sure to attract increased tourism in the near-future. Stop for a glass of red at the local winery along the way, enjoy classic pub food or take a historical tour of the town. Now’s the time to uncover this hidden gem.

Take a trip back in time as you follow the Macarthur Heritage Trail and uncover the town’s history. Plaques all over town tell the story of times-gone-by, from the old Baker’s Shop to the traditional police gaol cell. Pay a visit to the Courthouse and explore a rich archive of family lines, news and tales from the past. Book in advance and be sure to visit the exact replica of Gordon Lucas’ Barber Shop, complete with memorabilia and rare advertising from the 1930s-70s.  

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Summer is the season for children’s activities in Macarthur, although you can enjoy a spot of tennis on the astroturf all year round. Get those sausages sizzling at the undercover BBQ area as your kids dash around the fully-fenced playground. Dip a toe in Macarthur’s ultimate country pool complete with a brand-new waterslide, and cool down with an ice-cream on the sprawling lawns. Embrace the town’s warm community feel.

A trip down Old Crusher Road near Byaduk, 20 minutes north west of the Macarthur brings you to the Tumuli Lava Blisters, formed when lava flow spread from Mt Napier forming a thin crust. The accumulation of pressure beneath the crust caused it to rise to the surface while thickening the crust. Some of the Tumuli crack open releasing hot lava, resulting in characteristic bulges. The Lava Blisters are one of three unique sites across the world where this natural phenomenon occurs, the other two located in Iceland and Africa.

Visitors must note, as the Tumuli is located on private land this is only an observation site and no walking trails have been established. The Tumuli can only be observed from a distance or through an accredited tour operator.

Macarthur Wind Farm7

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 a palette of colours to make any Instagrammer jealous, stretching as far as the eye can see.

History of Macarthur

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.

Macarthur: Uncovering Stories of Sacrifice

A short film was launched about the sacrifices made by residents of Macarthur and district who served in the Australian armed forces during World War I.

The short film is titled Macarthur: Uncovering Stories of Sacrifice and is a project of the Macarthur RSL sub-branch funded by the ANZAC Centenary Community Grants Program.