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.  

Macarthur Pub1

Gather your friends for classic pub grub intermixed with gourmet specials, and warm yourself by the crackling wood fire at the 150+ year old Macarthur Pub. Cook Mohamed’s steak is rumoured to be the best in the south-west, but we’ll leave the judging up to you. Cure your hunger and say hello to long-time locals Joe and Andrea. Grab a home-made pizza or a burger-with-the-lot, or pick up a coffee to keep you warm as you discover the town.

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.

Macarthur Swimming Pool Slide

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.

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.

BUDJ BIM NATIONAL PARK

THE LAVA CAVE

Turn on your torch and prepare for an underground adventure at Budj Bim’s Lava Cave. Just a 10-minute walk from the lookout and BBQ areas, the Lava Cave is arguably the park’s most popular attraction. Traipse down stone steps into the mouth of the cave and look up at the glistening moisture and moss clinging to the stone above. The cave, formed by cooling lava flows during the volcano’s most recent eruption, extends deep into the earth. Discover just how far, by following the mostly flat volcanic floor of the lava tube all the way to its end.

LAKE SURPRISE AND THE CRATER RIM WALK

Take a short walk from Budj Bim’s top carpark to the lookout. Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Surprise, situated in the centre of the park’s extinct volcano. Take a romantic stroll along the crater rim walk, Lake Surprise walk and Lava Cave trail.

The lake is home to a wide variety of fish and is rumoured to contain quicksand, so be sure to stick to the path. Keep an eye out for koalas, echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras, parrots and other wildlife on your walk.

The crater rim walk loops its way around the edge of the top of the volcano. A number of brilliant vantage points for the avid photographer can be found along the way.

THE NATURAL BRIDGE

The cathedral-like Natural Bridge cave can be easily accessed by vehicle, or via a moderate two-hour walk from the park’s main entrance. This rare cave’s otherworldly gateway will lead you into a tunnel littered with emerald-green moss-covered stones. Formed by one of the fastest-flowing lava movements at Budj Bim, the turbulent force of the lava flow resulted the cave’s unique triangular shape. It’s a geologist’s dream, and more than a little inspiring for the rest of us.

CAMPING

Budj Bim’s camping grounds are woven together through a tangle of dirt bush tracks. You’ll feel like you’ve got this quiet, tranquil place to yourself, but there’s never someone too far away. Campsites come with a large grassy area to pitch a tent, as well as a camp fire and BBQ plate ready to use. Showers and toilets are just a short walk from your site. Look to the trees – you might just spot a koala during the day or a possum at night!

PICNIC & BBQ AREAS

Listen to park’s resident kookaburras sing in the afternoon, but as you do so be sure to guard your sausages – they like them as much as you do. Enjoy undercover cover BBQ facilities with picnic tables and plenty of room to spread a picnic rug. At dusk, keep an eye out for kangaroos and wallabies hopping by.

MOUNTAIN BIKE & 4WD TRACKS

Woven throughout Budj Bim’s sprawling bushland are a number of tracks suitable for mountain biking and four-wheel drive adventures. Travel along and discover remnants of the past, from old stone fenced cattle yards to lone chimneys surrounded by crumbling ruins. The tracks open up onto grassy plains, and it’s not uncommon to spot an emu among the hundreds of kangaroos roaming the quiet bushland.

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