50 towns in 50 days: Beaufort's tourism renaissance

THE Beaufort secret is out.

Once little more than a sleepy pitstop on the Western Highway, Beaufort’s burgeoning tourism industry is suddenly attracting scores of visitors and for a vast array of reasons.

Chief among them, according to Beaufort Newsagency’s Jim Cox, is the Imperial Egg Gallery, which recently relocated to a purpose designed gallery in the town’s main thoroughfare, Neil Street.

The gallery houses an impressive array of intricate egg art from around the world and attracts tourists by the busload.

But Mr Cox said a wide variety of attractions was bringing a diverse crowd of people to the town.

Beaufort is probably best known for its enormously popular four day music event, the Rainbow Serpent Festival, which attracts more than 10,000 music lovers each January.

Traditionally people have also been drawn to Beaufort for the watersports on offer at the town’s lake and Mr Cox said people often travel from Ballarat and Ararat to use the nearby golf course.    

More recently, the town’s gastronomic landscape has undergone a transformation, with Michael Unwin Wines offering a hugely popular monthly Sunday tapas and music event, and the local Three Troupers brewery opening a licensed cafe and providore in town.

“They have added a different dimension to the town,” Mr Cox said.

“The town is changing, it is mainly a retirement place but there are a few tree changers because it is an affordable place to come and live.”

Mr Cox said for a small town, Beaufort was well serviced with a secondary school, hospital, aged care facilities, a variety of sporting pursuits and public transport.

“The train and bus service is outstanding for a small country town. There’s everything here the people could really want,” he said.

Mr Cox moved to Beaufort eight years ago and said he was happy he made the move, despite one obvious pitfall.

“The downside is, and I know I talk the town up but there’s always a downside, it is very, very cold,” he said.

The Basics

Municipality: Pyrenees Shire

Population: 1044

First settled: 1854

Main industries: Sheep and crop farming, timber, tourism.

Claim to fame: The annual Rainbow Serpent four day music festival attracts more than 10,000 music lovers to the town each January. It is also the hometown of retired Collingwood player Shane O’Bree.

Five fast facts

1. A small township was established at Beaufort following the discovery of gold at nearby Fiery Creek in 1854.

2. Between 1855 and 1863, Beaufort was known as

Fiery Creek, Fiery Creek Pyrenees Gold Field and Raglan. It was renamed Beaufort in 1863.

3. There is an International Association of Beauforts. In addition to Victoria’s Beaufort, towns and cities that are part of the association are located in France, Haiti, Malaysia, South Africa, Luxembourg, Ireland, Wales, and the US.

4. Beaufort has its own weekly newspaper, the Pyrenees Advocate, which services the Pyrenees Shire. It began in 1872 as the Riponshire Advocate and was renamed in the 1990s.

5. The town’s railway station reopened in 2004 and, until the Wendouree station opened in 2010, was the only passenger station between Ballarat and Ararat.

Five things to do

1. Waterski, row, fish or walk around the Beaufort lake. The lake is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts during the summer months, drawing people from all over.

2. Savour a little taste of Spain. One Sunday each month, Michael Unwin Wines stages its hugely popular tapas afternoon. A six course, locally sourced  tapas luncheon with matching wines costs $50.

3. Visit the Imperial Egg Gallery. Housing an extensive collection of egg art from around the world, the Imperial Egg Gallery attracts tourist groups by the busload. There is also a cafe and gift shop.

4. Outdoor activities at Cave Hill Creek. It started as a school camp but now Cave Hill Creek offers its adventure activities to all members of the public. Choose from ropes courses, orienteering and bushwalking, to name a few. It is also a function venue.

5. Golf, anyone? Beaufort’s 18 hole golf course is located close to the lake and attracts players from across the region.

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