Base your stay in Ballarat
Hugging Melbourne's north western corner, the Goldfields region is steeped in history, fine wine and charming Victorian culture. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Ballarat may have seen its heyday but it's far from forgotten. Among the streets lined with classic Victorian architecture you will find the opulent Craig's Royal Hotel (a great spot for high tea), the recently refurbished Grand Mercure Forest Resort Apartments and a handful of 4-star Best Westerns.
While you're in town, don't miss Australia's oldest regional art gallery, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, try your hand at gold-panning at Sovereign Hill or catch a show at Her Majesty's Theatre, circa 1875.
Head off to bed in Bendigo
The graceful regional gem of Bendigo is still abuzz more than 150 years after the gold rush era. Surrounded by family-run vineyards and criss-crossed by the iconic "talking" tramline, Bendigo is also endowed with a fine selection of Goldfields accommodation.
When seeking the perfect Bendigo hotel, you can't go too far past the reputable Quest hotels on both High Street and McCrae Street, or the heritage Hotel Shamrock in the heart of the city at Pall Mall. There are also a number of Bendigo motor inns if you're planning on driving on to neighbouring Heathcote or Castlemaine.
Meander through Maldon or Maryborough
The heritage hub of Maryborough can be easily recognised by its colossal historic railway station, which has been converted into an antiques and art gallery and restaurant precinct. Not to be confused with Maryborough Queensland, Victoria's Maryborough sits at the heart of the Goldfields and is dappled with restored miner's homes that have a new lease on life as bed and breakfasts, as well as a dozen or so motels.
East of Maryborough, Maldon is a town trapped in time where you can easily imagine what life was like during the gold rush. After antique-hunting, cafe-hopping and wine-tasting around town, snuggle up in a self-contained cottage or renovated homestead.