Whroo Historic Reserve lies within the 33,000ha Rushworth State Forest, approximately 40 minutes drive from Tahbilk Winery. The 500ha reserve encompasses the site of the Whroo township and part of the associated goldfields.
Whroo is an amazing little town, although you probably didn’t know it exists. A little off the beaten track from Nagambie, Whroo has an old church standing, which is now the Rangers office, in which you will be able to find out its very rich heritage.
In 1836 Major Mitchell passed diagonally through Victoria, crossing the Goulburn River some 20km south of Whroo. Settlers followed and, by 1845, the traditional lifestyle and food resources of the indigenous people had been destroyed. By 1850 the area was extensively settled by pastoralists and, with the discovery of gold in 1853, the township of Whroo was established.
An old gold mining town, in its prime Whroo would have been accommodating about 2000 people, but now its history can be found by only those that go looking for it.
The Balaclava open cut mine is a spectacular example of early quartz reef mining. Puddling machines and the remnants of areas of quartz reef and shallow alluvial lead mining areas can be found throughout the historic township site.
A short walk from the mine the Whroo Cemetary lies on a lonely hillside and contains some 400 graves, reflecting the harshness of life on the goldfields.
Not far from the cemetery, on Spring Hill, is the Ngurai-Illam-Wurrung Rock Well. Whroo was central to the lands of the Ngurai-llam-wurrung Aboriginal people. It is thought the Aborigines protected the waterhole with a rock to prevent pollution by animals and debris, and to reduce evaporation.
Whroo Historic Reserve is located about 190km north of Melbourne. Access is along the Goulburn Valley Highway to Murchison, turn off to Rushworth then travel 7km south through the forest to Whroo. Alternative routes are via Nagambie and Graytown
If you are looking for an opportunity to fill the lungs with fresh air, stimulate the brain with some rich history and get an all-round sensory experience, I would put this high on the list of things to do.