50 towns in 50 days: More than just a lake, Burrumbeet

BURRUMBEET is synonymous with three things: its lake, its pub and its annual horse racing meeting.

And its hidden secret is the historic Ercildoune Homestead, once one of the largest sheep stations in Australia.

Lake Burrumbeet, which for several years was dry due to drought, is a haven for holiday makers from all over the country who make the trek annually to the Lake Burrumbeet Caravan Park.

It's also popular with Ballarat locals for swimming, boating, water skiing and fishing.

The Burrumbeet Pub does a roaring meal trade and the New Year's Day Burrumbeet Cup at the Burrumbeet Racecourse is the perfect country race meeting venue.

Hidden away on Ercildoune Road is Ercildoune Homestead, built by the Livingstone-Learmonth brothers in the 1840s after they took up the run in 1838.

Ercildoune is a baronial Scottish homestead, built out of granite from the slopes of nearby Mount Ercildoun and handmade in a kiln on the property, and it is opened a couple of times a year by owners John and Christine Dever, who bought it in 1999 and undertook major renovations.

The Basics

Municipality: Ballarat and Pyrenees

Population: 158

First settled: 1838

Main industries: Farming

Claim to fame: Home of the Burrumbeet Cup race meeting every New Year's Day.

Five fast facts

1. Lake Burrumbeet is the largest of four shallow lakes in the Ballarat region covering approximately 24 square kilometres.

2. The lake's reserve contains many aboriginal camp sites and areas of geological interest.

3. The name Burrumbeet comes from the local aboriginal word burrumbidj, meaning muddy or dirty water.

4. In 1840, Mrs Andrew Scott drove across the dry lake bed.

5. In October 1965, a Ballarat Aero Club Cessna plunged into the lake with a pilot and three passengers on board, with two people killed.

Five things to do

1. Visit Lake Burrumbeet for swimming, boating, fishing and water-skiing.

2. Enjoy an old-fashioned pub meal and a game of pool at the Burrumbeet Pub, also known as the Lambton Arms Hotel.

3. Bring a picnic, a rug and the whole family to the Burrumbeet Racecourse on New Year's Day for the annual Burrumbeet Cup.

4. Take a tour of the historic Ercildoune homestead when it opens to the public a few times a year.

5. Enjoy the beauty of the Avenue of Honour, and take the time to read a few plaques, on your way from Ballarat to Burrumbeet.

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