Small rural town in western Victoria
Located 165 km west of Melbourne on the Glenelg Highway, Skipton is a small rural centre of about 500 people.
The Bamganie station was taken up hereabouts in 1839. A townsite was surveyed in 1852 on a crossing over Mt Emu Creek where tracks from Geelong and Melbourne met. Land sales proceeded and 25 people were recorded in the village in 1854. It was named after a town in Yorkshire, England. Appropriately, the name is Anglo-Saxon for 'sheep town' as Skipton became a major centre for sales of pure wool and the first rural show in the Western District was held here in 1859. The Skipton Hotel (still standing in Montgomery St) was also built in 1859.
Novelist Henry Kingsley worked as an overseer on a nearby pastoral station in 1857 and Victorian premier from 1955 to 1972, Henry Bolte, was born at Skipton in 1908. The railway arrived in 1916.
Skipton Hotel and Church
The Skipton Hotel in Montgomery St dates from 1859. There is also a National-Trust classified Gothic Presbyterian bluestone church with gargoyles in Montgomery St.
There is an eel farm in Cleveland St which exports to Germany. Freshly-smoked eels are available. Turn right at the bridge if you're coming from Ballarat.
Mooramong is an old station complex which dates from the 1870s although it was greatly altered in 1937 by North American silent-screen star Claire Adams and her husband Scobie Mackinnon who provided an Art Deco interior to the Victorian facade. The couple's furnishings remain and the residence is surrounded by attractive gardens and a nature reserve which protects western basalt grasslands flora such as kangaroo grass, wallaby grass, spear grass and herbs. The Mackinnon family bequeathed the property to the National Trust in 1982.
It is open for special events and open days only. As of 2010 admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. For next open day check out: http://www.nattrust.com.au/places_to_visit/geelong_the_west/mooramong__1
To get there, head west along the Glenelg Highway for 4.5 km and take the signposted turnoff onto the dirt road. It is another 8 km.
Mt Widderin Caves
The Mt Widderin Caves are located on the Mt Widderin station 6 km south of Skipton, just off the Lismore Road. They are the largest volcanic caves (sometimes referred to as 'lava tubes') in Victoria. The main cave is 55 m long, 20 m wide and 5 m high. There is a 200-metre walk which leads to a subterranean lake. These caves were formed when lava cools leaving an outer crust which forms a tunnel. The lava continues to flow through this tube. They are open on most days but it is necessary to ring (03) 5340 2018 to organise the visit in advance. Be sure to take a torch and some old clothes. There is an admission charge of $3 per head and $2 for children, tel: (03) 5340 2018.
Snake Valley Church
There is a lovely old bluestone church dating back to the 19th century located at Snake Valley. Head towards Ballarat along the Glenelg Highway for 19 km then turn left at Linton and it is another 12 km due north.
Skipton VIC 3361
Telephone: (03) 5340 2111
Mooramong Cottage and Shearers Quarters
Skipton VIC 3361
Telephone: (03) 5340 6553 or (03) 5340 6556