The attractive small hamlet of Trentham located 93 kilometres north-west of Melbourne was founded in the early 1850s. Initially established by hopeful gold-prospectors it wasn’t long before timber production outstripped gold as the primary source of jobs and income. Those in search of gold moved on to the richer pickings to be found on the goldfields closer-by Bendigo, Ballarat or Castlemaine.
Trentham’s location set amidst verdant stands of temperate rain forest meant it was a perfect base for lumber production. To facilitate this burgeoning timber industry the railway came to town in the 1880s. The line remained open for roughly a century before being superseded by better roads.
Rich volcanic soil has also made the pastures surrounding Trentham popular with graziers and farmers for more than a century. It’s most successful crop however has to be the venerable old – spud. In fact the potato is so synonymous with this small town that each year there is the all-conquering ‘Spudfest’. Which you may, or may not, dig.
At an easy one-hour drive from Melbourne Trentham is the perfect destination for a day-trip. There is a great variety of attractions both historical and contemporary. With a little something for everyone it’s a little like a Trentham tapas. We’ve chosen five of our favourites for you to savour.
Things to do in Trentham.
No 1. Cafes and Bakeries.
For such a small town (population just 1411 in the 2011 census) there is a remarkable selection of eateries and options. From a bloody great sausage roll right through to haute cuisine. We recommend just taking a stroll around town and making your own taste discoveries however a couple of popular foodie destinations are
- The Redbeard Historic Bakery. You must try the sourdough!
- Radio Springs Hotel (Lyonville. 9 kilometres from Trentham.) Lunch & dinner. An accommodation option as well.
If you are a fan of organic fare we really liked the look of the Trentham Collective‘s innovative menu but haven’t been – yet. Click here to peruse more dining options.
^Make sure to look up the opening hours/ days before a visit. They seem to vary greatly between each eatery and cafe.
For Melburnians with a thirst for quality cafes you won’t be disappointed. There is a brace of fine establishments in and around High Street. Don’t forget to duck around the corner into Market Street either. If you don’t want to drink your cafe latte in-house, and it’s a fine day, why not get a take-away and ease down to the Quarry Street Reserve?
No 2. Quarry Street Reserve.
The only season that wouldn’t be pleasant to have a picnic or coffee in the reserve would probably be winter. In spring you will be surrounded by gorgeous blossoms and in autumn vibrant colours. There is a playground for the kids, a tranquil lake replete with the necessary water birds and tables and bench-chairs dotted around.
Quarry St reserve is a perfect place to sit, munch and contemplate about what activity you will do next.
^ Always bring a coat, just incase, as Trentham is normally about 3 – 4 degrees cooler than Melbourne and can pack a chilly wind.
No 3. Wandering and Walking Trails.
If you are keen to walk off lunch there are plenty of options. Potentially just leave the car parked at Quarry St and wander the main roads and back lanes of the township. This is always the best way to truly explore.
However if you want something slightly more active there are two wonderful walking trails you can try.
This trail, maintained by local volunteers, is a nine kilometre track that circumnavigates the hamlet and also encompasses the old Racecourse Reserve in the Wombat State Forest.
If you walk it without dawdling or stopping (much) it should take you about two hours. But where’s the fun in that right? The trail begins and ends at Quarry St and is well signposted.
Domino Trail/ Rail Trail.
The Domino Trail contains part of the original railway from Daylesford to Carlsruhe. It is six kilometres in length beginning at Trentham Railway Station, now disused, and continuing through to Lyonville. The entire walk is 12 kilometres return.
For the first 500 metres or so the old track is still in place and rail buffs are sure to love the restored Trentham Station, which now also serves as the information centre. There are many old freight wagons and original track and sheds still in situ here and worth an explore.
On the return leg from Lyonville you will pass through picturesque bushland in the Wombat State Forest, home to the endangered Powerful Owl. The track is easy and well graded but you will need to allow up to four hours if you intend on walking the entire loop Trentham – Lyonville – Trentham.
No 4. Trentham Falls.
If you fancy a little less activity than a multi-kilometre walking trail then how about the short track down from the Trentham Falls carpark to the magnificent cascades themselves. In our estimation one of the ‘must-do’ things to do in Trentham.
At 32 metres Trentham Falls is Victoria’s highest single drop falls. They were formed approximately five million years ago by molten lava rapidly cooling as it flowed along the Coliban River valley. Located in the Wombat State Forest it is another great location for a picnic with tables and toilet facilities provided.
A must-see attraction all year round the falls will be ‘mightier’ autumn – spring as a hot summer will take its toll on the water level in the Coliban river feeding the falls.
No 5. Cosmopolitan Hotel
In our estimation The Cosmopolitan really is the hub of Trentham. Both in terms of locality but also as it’s icon.
Built around 1866 the historic building was gutted by fire in 2005. Restoration works began in 2009 and were completed in 2012. Restorative works done so well that it really is hard to imagine that this isn’t the original 19th Century edifice.
After a busy day of exploration it really would be a mistake to not partake of an afternoon libation in the restful and expansive beer garden. Sit back, sip and discuss who’s driving back to Melbourne or perhaps, if you are staying close-by “where shall we go for dinner?”
Trentham is place where you’re just as likely to see a lexus as a hilux these days yet it’s still ‘country’ enough for you to expect to get a park along the main drag. Whilst in some ways it is changing to meet the urban expectations of visitors from Melbourne it is a respectful transformation.
There is a multitude of things to do in Trentham. With gastronomy, history, activity and natural beauty on offer, and at just an hour’s drive away, Trentham will continue to be one of our absolute favourite Melbourne day trips.
Never been? We suggest you make tracks to Trentham for a look.
Things to do in Trentham. A Gallery.
Click an image to enlarge. All photography © Saxon Templeton
Trentham is 93 kilometres or roughly one hours drive from Melbourne.
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