50 towns in 50 days: Smeaton's a "nice spot"

SMEATON may be a small town between Creswick and Daylesford but it has a couple of big assets.

The historic Anderson's Mill comes alive on the first Sunday in April for an annual festival organised by the Newlyn Football Club which attracts thousands of visitors to its food, wine and song.

The mill was built in 1862 by the Anderson family, which later lost its fortune on the goldfields.

However, the mill continued to operate for nearly 100 years until 1959. But two world class grain and seed processors still operate nearby in Smeaton to maintain the region's manufacturing tradition.

Another major attraction is, of course, the Tuki Trout Farm, where people of all ages can catch their own fish and either take them home or have them cooked to perfection in the farm's restaurant.

Tuki Trout Farm owner Robert Jones said the area was also renowned for its wide range of guest houses and accommodation, including conference centre Rutherford Park.

"It's very stable in climatic conditions, it's central in Victoria, its close to major shopping centres like Ballarat and Melbourne. It's a nice spot," Mr Jones said.

The basics

Municipality: Hepburn Shire

Population: 250

First settled: 1838

Main industries: Farming and grazing.

Claim to fame: Smeaton features one of Victoria's earliest substantial country homes, Smeaton House, which still stands today.

Five fast facts

1. Prior to white settlement, the Smeaton area was inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba people.

2. Retired ship's captain and pastoralist John Hepburn settled in the area first, naming it after a Scotland estate.

3. Some gold was found in the area in the early 1850s.

4. Just north-east of Smeaton is Yandoit, which retains some old stone fences and two-storey houses with stone chimneys from when the Swiss-Italian farmers settled in the area in the mid-19th century.

5. A food, wine and music festival is held at Smeaton's Anderson's Mill each year.

Five things to do in Smeaton

1. The biggest attraction in Smeaton is the 19th century industrial complex, Anderson's Mill, which includes a beautifully preserved four-storey bluestone flour mill with a 25-tonne waterwheel. It was built in the early 1860s by the Anderson family who made its fortune on the goldfields.

2. Smeaton House is a two-storey, stuccoed brick Regency mansion built in 1849-50 for John Hepburn, who now lies in the small private family cemetery nearby.

3. Visit the Tuki Trout Fishing and Farming Complex, where you can catch your own fish at Stoney Rises farm, built in the 1850s. It also has smoked trout and pate, woolshed tours, sheep shearing demonstrations, hands-on lamb feeding, a restaurant and cottage accommodation.

4. Stay overnight and enjoy Smeaton's country charm at a range of bed and breakfast providers.

5. Bullarook Creek is nearby for free fishing.

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