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EDITORIAL: Small towns, big appeal...

What is it that makes a small town stand out among the hundreds that exist across Victoria?

I am often drawn to reading the various top lists – usually just to see how many towns I have visited or if there are any that I am yet to visit.

I read an article on last week on ‘Eight offbeat towns to visit in Victoria’, and the Wimmera’s very own Harrow made the list.

The list said Victoria was ‘brimming with quaint, less-travelled towns that offer more than meets the eye’, saying the towns were ‘not just destinations; they’re gateways to Victoria’s soul, offering a blend of adventure, tranquillity and cultural richness’.

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Harrow’s inclusion as an offbeat town came down to its historical significance, pointing to its link with Indigenous cricket legend Johnny Mullagh and annual Harrow Discovery Night and Sound and Light Show.

Harrow’s connection to its Aboriginal heritage and pioneering spirit, as well as its scenic beauty, were also mentioned.

Beechworth, Walhalla, Clunes, Port Fairy, Castlemaine, Maldon and Queenscliff also made the list of ‘offbeat’ towns.

These towns often make the lists of places to visit in Victoria – with their beautiful buildings steeped in history, and natural attractions that draw the tourists in their droves.

Harrow, on the other hand, probably does not have the same level of tourists because of its proximity to Melbourne, and being off the major highways.

But isn’t that a drawcard in itself?  

It’s somewhat of a hidden gem to many Victorians – and there’s no having to fight off herds of people to enjoy the experience, or queuing up in a long line of people to buy an ice-cream.

When I think about my favourite towns, they usually involve having some kind of waterway – either a lake or river; historic buildings; quirky shops to browse; an old-fashioned pub with quality meals; and often an attraction to provide some sort of activity.

And, being geographically located to maximise the amount of sunny days, is also a bonus.

My top 10 favourite Victorian small towns to visit for a day trip or weekend away, in no particular order, are: Yarrawonga, Rutherglen, Daylesford, Nagambie, Castlemaine, Echuca, Port Fairy, Mansfield, Lancefield and Lorne.

For the sake of not being accused of bias, I have deliberately not included a town in the Wimmera, Grampians and Mallee – but aren’t we lucky to have so many hidden gems across the region?

If it has been a while since you have taken a day trip to visit one of these towns, then why not plan one in the next few weeks while the autumn sun allows you to get out enjoy it.

The entire April 3, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!