Population 1024

The first registered gold strike in the state was made at Clunes on 7 July 1851. The town, north of Ballarat, is said to be one of the most intact gold towns in Victoria, featuring historic buildings throughout. The historic Clunes Railway Station, built in the 1870s, recently reopened.

A number of extinct volcanoes surround the town. They can be seen 3 kilometres to the south, on the road to Ballarat. The town was used as a location for the film Ned Kelly, starring Heath Ledger.

Clunes was named the first International Booktown in the southern hemisphere in 2012, recognising the town's many bookshops as well as its Back to Booktown festival, which occurs annually in May.

Visitor Information

Old School Complex, 70 Bailey St; (03) 5345 3896

Nearby national parks

  • Brisbane Ranges National Park

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  • Kinglake National Park

    Surrounding the township of Kinglake, this bush retreat close to Melbourne offers views of the Yarra Valley, the city skyline and Port...more

  • Yarra Ranges National Park

    Lofty mountain ash bathed in mist, rare and endangered plants and animals, snow in winter and pristine pockets of bushland make Yarra Ranges...more

Nearby towns

  • Creswick

    Creswick is an attractive and historic town, a symbol of the rich and heady life of the gold-rush days of the 1850s. Unfortunately, the...more

  • Maryborough

    Maryborough is a small city set on the northern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Its historic 19th-century buildings, particularly...more

  • Ballarat

    Ballarat is Victoria's largest inland city and features grand old buildings and wide streets that create an air of splendour. Built on the...more

In Town

Clunes Museum: local-history museum featuring displays on the gold-rush era; open weekends and school and public holidays; Fraser St.

Bottle Museum: in former South Clunes State School; open Wed–Sun; Bailey St.

Queens Park: on the banks of Creswick Creek, the park was created over 100 years ago.


Talbot This delightful, historic town has many 1860–70 buildings, particularly in Camp St and Scandinavian Cres. Attractions include the Arts and Historical Museum in the former Methodist Church; the Bull and Mouth Restaurant in an old bluestone building, formerly a hotel; and a market selling local produce, 3rd Sun each month. 18 km NW.

Mt Beckworth Scenic Reserve: popular picnic and horseriding reserve with panoramic views from the summit; 8 km W.

Eco-friendly activities around town

Golden Nugget Discovery Tours, Ballarat 31 km

This carbon-neutral business in Ballarat runs small, personalised tours of no more than six people in the Goldfields region, with three themes – wild nature, gold history and heritage, and food and wine.... Find out more

Campsites around town

Slaty Creek camping area 21 km

There are actually 3 camping areas spread around Slaty Creek in the south of the park: Number 1, Number 2 and Number 3 camping areas. After you’ve taken a nap under a manna gum and panned for gold in the creek,... Find out more

Lake Burrumbeet Caravan Park 24 km

When it holds water, Lake Burrumbeet attracts watersports lovers from around the region, and anglers keen on catching trout and redfin. It’s situated on the western fringe of Ballarat, the town centre of which is... Find out more

Karri Track camping area 25 km

There’s not much space at this camping area in the west of the park, so it’s best to contact the ranger beforehand to check the availability of sites, particularly if you have a caravan. You can walk across... Find out more

Mount Franklin Reserve camping area 32 km

The crater of the extinct Mt Franklin volcano makes a wonderful setting for an overnight camp. Separated from Hepburn Regional Park proper by the Midlands Hwy, the reserve is an enclave of large conifers that makes a... Find out more

Vaughan Springs camping area 41 km

There’s only space at Vaughan Springs for a few caravans and a half-dozen tents, so get there early if you want to stay during holiday periods. To the north are the old Spring Gully Junction Mine and a walk along... Find out more

Butts Reserve camping area 42 km

Butts Reserve is west of town on Mt Tarrengower Rd. After visiting the collection of artefacts at the North British Mine and exploring the adjacent Carmans Tunnel, climb the fire tower on Mt Tarrengower and also scale... Find out more

Bush camping 42 km

Permitted within the forest. Contact ranger for details.... Find out more

Warburtons Bridge camping area 42 km

This basic campground is accessed off the Vaughan–Drummond Rd. It’s in the same part of the park as the Vaughan Springs camping area, which may prove useful if Warburtons Bridge is full. Up in the north of... Find out more

Waterfalls camping area 43 km

The Waterfalls site, on the eastern fringe of the forest, is easily accessed from Avoca. Several easy bushwalks start here, including the 1 km Valley Walk along No. 2 Creek, and another that heads towards Sugarloaf... Find out more

Smiths Bridge camping area 44 km

The Smiths Bridge camping area, located on the Elmhurst–Beaufort Rd, is often used as a base by the horseriders who frequent the forest. Note: horseriders can only access existing vehicle roads, not walking tracks;... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

BIG4 Ballarat Windmill Holiday Park 27 km

This well-established, quality park is in a quiet rural area 6 km west of the city on the old Western Highway. It has a great range of facilities including a spa, sauna and tennis court. Bookings are required at Easter... Find out more

A Welcome Stranger Holiday Park 31 km

Located 2.5 km east of Ballarat, this is a good quality park in a quiet, easily accessible area. The park has a large number of sites, a heated pool, a spa, minigolf, an adventure playground and a tennis court. We... Find out more

Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park 32 km

Centrally located (2 km from the city centre) and easily accessible, this quality park has a wide range of accommodation and very good facilities, including a heated pool and spa, and bathrooms for children and families.... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Creswick South rest area 19 km

16km N of Ballarat (L)

Very small area adjacent to the highway among a few trees. For northbound only.

Lexton South Rest Area 21 km

27 km S of Avoca (L) or 43 km N of Ballarat (R)

Large area just off the highway. Only limited shade.

Slaty Creek camping area 21 km

T/O at Creswick

Small secluded campground located 6km (partly unsealed) south-east of Creswick via Bungaree, Slaty Creek and Petticoat rds.

Mount Franklin rest area 32 km

26km S of Castlemaine (L) or 10km N of Daylesford (R)

Secluded area 1km off the highway in a shady forest setting.

No. 2 Creek rest area 39 km

59km S of St Arnaud (L) or 3km N of Avoca (R)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Smythesdale camping area 39 km

At Smythesdale

Secluded and shady setting 500m north of the highway via Gardens St.

Jessie Kennedy rest area 41 km

6km S of Castlemaine (R) or 30km N of Daylesford (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Vaughan Springs camping area 41 km

T/O 9km S of Castlemaine (L) or 27km N of Daylesford (R)

Small campground 6km east of the highway via Vaughan Springs Rd in Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. Facilities at nearby picnic area.

Woady Yaloak Creek rest area 45 km

26km E of Skipton (L) or 6km W of Smythesdale (R)

Surrounded by scrub just off the highway.

Middle Creek camping area 48 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded in the forest 8km (unsealed) north of the highway in Mt Buangor State Park.

Bailes camping area 48 km

T/O 32km SE of Ararat (L) or 12km NW of Beaufort (R)

Secluded area 9km (unsealed) north of the highway in the forest of Mt Buangor State Park.

Clarendon rest area 49 km

26km S of Ballarat (R) or 60km N of Geelong (L)

Large secluded area just off the highway behind some shady trees.

What's on around town

Market: Fraser St; 2nd Sun each month.

Booktown: large-scale book fair; May.

Words in Winter Celebration: Aug.

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