March 2, 2020 / By Oceana Setaysha
Walking enthusiasts and lovers of nature, food, wine, arts and culture, take heed. If there was ever an event that succinctly celebrated all these things, it would be the Festival of Short Walks. Being held over 7 days from the 14th to the 20th of October, the Festival of Short Walks is the perfect event to throw yourself into the wondrous adventures of spring.
Spread across the villages of Beechworth, Chiltern, Yackandandah and Rutherglen, the festival is actually an Australian first. It is comprised of more than 30 guided walks and 40 self-guided walks, each one carefully designed to offer a unique experience and an opportunity to explore the nature, arts, culture, food, wine and stories of the local area.
With so many walks on the cards, there’s quite a bit to choose from within the Festival of Short Walks. Of course, there are some stand out options, and these are a few I'd definitely recommend hitting the road for.
Forage & Feast - 17 October, Lake Moodemere
A walk for foodies and wine aficionados, Forage & Feast is hosted by a pair of sixth and seventh-generation wine producers. During the discovery tour walkers will learn about Moodemere Lamb, forage for wild greens by the lakeside, try their hand at a lamb-cooking masterclass, and enjoy a three-course meal with matched wines. Accommodation is also available on site.
21 Stops – The Hotels of Rutherglen - 18 October, Rutherglen
If you believe the stories, when Rutherglen was at the peak of its Gold Rush mayhem in the early 1860s, there were 21 hotels along the main street. While there might only be three remaining, there’s still a lot of quality pub history to explore in the beautiful buildings and colourful characters who have left their mark on the town.
Ned Kelly Guided Walking Tour - daily, Beechworth Visitor's Centre
The story of Ned Kelly has lots of interesting details worth exploring further, and Beechworth is an ideal place to do so. Learn about the boxing match that lasted 20 rounds, or how Ellen Kelly spent some time in Beechworth Gaol after attempting to murder a policeman, and at the same time see what the town has to offer.
Disco Dee’s Tour of Beechworth - 17-19 October
Bringing together history, music and all-out dancing, this is a walking tour like few others you’ve ever experienced. A silent disco on the move, participants will love learning about the silly side of Beechworth’s history from their disco hosts as they dance and play the night away.
Walk to the Source - 20 October, Beechworth
This walk starts as all good walks should, with a cup of great coffee at Billson’s Café. Here you’ll meet the owners of Billson’s who will take you for a wander to the local gorge, where you’ll see what drew the café’s namesake – George Billson – to Beechworth in the first place. Following the walk, you can quench your thirst with a paddle of beers or some classic cordials.
Mt. Pilot at Sunset
Usually a stunning 360-degree view is the reward for a hard hike, but in the case of Mt. Pilot in Chiltern, the summit is just 545m from the carpark and perfect for a sunset stroll. See if you can spot Mount Buffalo on the southern horizon!
Lake Sambell to Lake Kerferd
Get your fill of gorgeous lake vistas on this trail from Lake Sambell to Lake Kerferd at Beechworth. Walkers on this trail will see the evidence of the area’s past mining activities, so be sure to stay on the marked trail as it meanders through tall eucalypt forests.
A Walk In High Street
The old gold mining town of Yackandandah still has a few treasures hidden away waiting to be discovered, and this little stroll through town is a great place to dig into them. Check out the delightful building facades and learn about how the locals are on track to make the entire town run on renewable energy by 2022.
Wahgunyah River Track
A beautiful little trail through the old river gum trees alongside the Murray River, the Wahgunyah River Track is a location rich in history. Aboriginal artist Tommy McRae (circa 1835– 1901) was a regular wanderer here, and the track also passes by the Historic John Foord Pioneer Cemetery.
Rutherglen Heritage Walk
A town originally settled by squatters before being overrun by gold-seeking hopefuls and eventually becoming a wine mecca, there are many stories waiting to be heard in Rutherglen. Walkers exploring this self-guided town walk will love the ornate buildings and unique history of this unusual town.
The Festival of Short Walks is an Australian first, a one-of-a-kind exploration of Beechworth, Chiltern, Yackandandah and Rutherglen that will, quite literally, keep you on your toes. The only question to ask now is, where will you start your wander?
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