50 towns in 50 days: Old world charm in Smythesdale

KNOWN for its old world charm, Smythesdale is fast becoming a hub for the northern communities of Golden Plains Shire. 

The township offers many amenities such as a chemist, hotel, medical clinic and the main street is dotted with homewares and gift shops.

Although not heavily populated, Smythesdale is expected to soon become a popular choice for people looking to move away from the city with the introduction of reticulated sewage.

Golden Plains Shire economic development officer Damian Carter said this means that there will be smaller blocks available at prices which will ensure a lower level of mortgage stress.

However, Woady Yaloak Historical Society president Bill Riches believes its Smythesdale’s rich history which helps in bringing people to town.

“It’s like any little town, if you don’t have anything nice to say about anything, don’t say anything at all,” he said.

“Your pigeons always come home. Everyone seems to be related or friends in this town.”

Mr Riches said he had never had as many friends in his life since he moved to Smythesdale to work.

The basics.

Municipality: Golden Plains Shire Council

Population: 849

First settled: 1838 as part of an agricultural run

Main industries: Agriculture, forestry and fishing; rental, hiring and real estate services; manufacturing and construction.

Claim to fame: Smythesdale is the birthplace of Arthur Alfred Lynch who is known as the town’s most famous hero-terrorist. He was a polymath who was trained in engineering and medicine, wrote poetry, was a Member of the British Parliament and fought against the British in the Second Boer War.

Smythesdale was also home to women's rights activist, Lillias Margaret Skene  and Charles Hoskins, the founding father of the Australian Iron and Steel Industry.

Five fast facts

1. Gold was discovered in the Woady Yaloak Creek at Smythesdale in 1853. Miners soon flocked to the area and numerous townships sprang up as the diggers traced the gold leads along the underground streams. 

2. Smythesdale’s first post office opened on 14 July 1854.

3. By 1859 the population in the Smythes Creek Goldfields area was 20,000

4. The town was known as Smythes Creek until 1864.

5. The Smythesdale courthouse was constructed in 1861 and is still standing, as is the single-storey, bluestone former police station lock-up, which was constructed in 1863.

Five things to do:

1. Visit the local antique and collectables stores in the Main Street

2. Visit the historic police and courthouse precinct, including the Ballarat gallows

3. Enjoy a meal at the Courthouse Hotel, which draws people from far and wide to dine in its magnificently restored interior. 

4. Horse riding at the Woady Yaloak Equestrian Centre

5. Visit the Smythesdale Computer and Video Game Museum, one of Australia’s largest collections of Computers and Video Games, many of which are still playable

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