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Camperdown, VIC

Rural service centre surrounded by volcanic plains, lakes and craters

Camperdown is a pleasant rural service centre which has a main street dominated by a fine two kilometre-long avenue of elms and an impressive clock tower. The town is located on the world's third-largest volcanic plain which is dotted with lakes and volcanic cones. It is a prosperous country town with a number of handsome buildings; some interesting historic heritage walks; and attractive bushwalks in the surrounding countryside.


Camperdown is located at the foot of Mount Leura, 196 km south-west of Melbourne on the Princes Highway and 122 km due west of Geelong.


Origin of Name

The town name is an hilarious sleight of hand. In 1854 Governor Latrobe wanted the town to be named Duncan after a friend, Duncan McNicol who had been his companion on a recent kangaroo shoot. Another friend of the Governor, Neil Black dismissed the idea arguing that it was a poor choice. The Governor would not be dissuaded so he called the town Camperdown because Admiral Adam Duncan had defeated a Franco-Dutch fleet in 1797 at the Battle of Camperdown and in 1831 his son, Robert Dundas Haldane-Duncan, was made Earl of Camperdown. So it got to be called Duncan by stealth ... or by code.


Things to See and Do

Camperdown & District Historical Society Museum
Located at 241 Manifold St, between Gibson St and Brooke St, is the Camperdown Heritage Centre which is housed in the former Oddfellows Hall, built in 1896. It houses a collection of Aboriginal artefacts, farm and domestic implements, photographs, documents, clothing and maps. The Heritage Centre is open Tuesday and first Sunday of the month from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm. For more information tel: (03) 5593 1883 or check out https://camperdownhistory.org.au/heritage-centre.

Elm Avenue
The main street, Manifold Street, features a 2 km plantation of elm trees which were planted by school children in 1876. A.G. Finlay and his son, C. Finlay, who donated the trees and consequently it is known as Finlay Avenue. The National Trust notes: "A total of 290 trees were planted by school children and residents of Camperdown and since this initial planting, there have been further planting of Elms along Manifold Street, notably in 1952." See https://trusttrees.org.au/tree/VIC/Camperdown/Manifold_Avenue.

Camperdown War Memorial - Spirit of the Empire
Located opposite the clock tower on the corner of Finlay Avenue and Manifold Street, the Camperdown War Memorial is so impressive that it was accepted for inclusion in the Royal Academy Exhibition in London in 1929. Known as the “Spirit of the Empire”. It has been given an extensive entry in the Victorian Heritage Database. This notes: “Paul Raphael Montford, an accomplished English trained sculptor and member of the Royal Academy was engaged to design and model the work on 5 July 1926. The following year, Montford won the commission for the exterior sculptural groups at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, to effectively set his reputation as a classical sculptor in Victoria.
Montford's initial concept, which involved an heroic female figure, 'the Spirit of the Empire calling the Dominions to her aid in the fight she is about to enter upon', met with acclaim and Montford developed the clay model in consultation with eminent committee members including Oscar Nevett and Justice Stewart McArthur in his studio at Toorak. Montford's allegorical figure stands over an axe and fasces as representation of the Civil Order cast down whilst the unsheathed sword in the outstretched left hand is the call to arms, 'the answer to which call is shown by the endless line of marching men surrounding the pedestal with the special panels depicting the other branches of the services engaged'. On the shield is depicted the head of Neptune, the symbol of British sea power. Inscriptions on the monument, as models of 'simplicity and brevity', are derived from selected verse of Adam Lindsay Gordon and Latin phrases from Vergil's Sixth Aenid combined with the Earl of Shannon's motto, all loosely translated.
"Although the small bronze panels on the stone pedestal were cast in Melbourne, the plaster model for the statue was sent to London where, after the bronze casting was prepared by A. B. Burton of Thames Ditton, Montford's work was accepted for inclusion in the Royal Academy Exhibition for 1929. Paul Montford designed the base and pedestal of the monument in Tynong granite, the same stone as was then being used for the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, and set his impressive bronze to obliquely face both the Finlay Avenue and the centre of the town.
"The Soldiers' Memorial at Camperdown is one of Paul Montford's most distinguished works, a highly accomplished rendition of an allegorical theme in the Classic Academy tradition and one that has considerable aesthetic and intellectual merit. The statue 'Spirit of the Empire' epitomises the desire of the citizens of Camperdown to erect an original and distinctive monument to the fallen, subsequently the sacred reserve was further defined by construction of a perimeter basalt wall in 1954 as a memorial to those servicemen and women who died in World War II.” See https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/125534 for more information.

Masonic Lodge Hall
Located at the intersection of Manifold Street and Harrison Street (248 Manifold Street) is the Masonic Lodge Hall, home of the Leura Lodge which was consecrated in 1865. The Hall was built in 1867 of local bluestone. It is listed on the Heritage Register which notes: “The Masonic Hall, 248 Manifold Street Camperdown, is architecturally important as a rare and essentially intact early Masonic structure in Victoria, which incorporates an original temple and ante-rooms expressly designed for lodge purposes. Its strong, distinctive and finely executed Renaissance Revival style facade, with a Masonic symbol set in the parapet, emphasises the lodge's presence in the town. The hall is also one of the oldest surviving non-residential bluestone buildings in Camperdown, and is a notable work of eclectic Geelong-based architect, John Young.” See http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/result_detail/5308?print=true for more details.

Hampden Hotel
Located on the corner of Bath Street and Manifold Street (228 Manifold Street) the Hampden Hotel (1910) is a handsome old hotel. The present brick pub replaced a timber building which had been operating since 1868. The current building was designed by Michael McCabe, who was also the architect of the town’s Clock Tower.

Mechanics Institute Hall and Picture Theatre
Located on the corner of Bath Street and Manifold Street (216-226 Manifold Street) is the Mechanics' Institute which was built in 1890. Next door, in Bath Street, is the town’s impressive Picture Theatre. The Victorian Heritage Database notes: “The Mechanics' Institute was built in 1890 to a design by Alexander Hamilton, in Renaissance Revival style. It featured a first floor museum to house the collection of local ethnographer and amateur anthropologist, James Dawson, who was renowned for his humanitarian interest in, and study of, Western District Aborigines. The Institute is intact (though no evidence of Dawson's collection remains) and continues to serve an educational role in the community … The Theatre Royal, which replaced an earlier timber hall, was built in 1927-28 (during the boom period of cinema construction) at the rear of the Institute. It is a picture theatre-cum-hall in Free Classical Revival style, to a design by local architect W Perry Knights. The main auditorium (hall) has a flat floor to accommodate other uses such as public meetings, balls and dances, and civic events ... It retains many original elements including a ticket box and decorative features in the foyer, a bio-box (projection room), and timber railings on the stairs and landings and an imposing full-height proscenium. Garland motifs are featured throughout. The main entrance is also enhanced by decorative paving, a cantilevered canopy with Ionic columns, and the words 'Picture Theatre' in relief on the parapet.”

State Bank
Located at 194a Manifold Street the State Savings Bank was previously known as the Camperdown Savings Bank. In 1904 it was bought by the State Savings Bank and within months the architects, Tombs and Durran of Geelong had designed the current building. The previous building was demolished. The cost of the building was £1646. The Edwardia site (see https://www.edwardia.com.au/the-building.html) explains: “The Federation Romanesque style was a reworking of Roman and Gothic building styles used between 800 and 1100 AD. It is characterised by round arches and vaults and by the substitution of piers for columns as can be clearly seen in Edwardia … these qualities in Edwardia are expressed via solid precision cut stone walls supported by arches and buttresses. The ground floor local volcanic bluestone probably was reused from the demolition of the district Lands and Survey Office. Edwardia’s parapets are another feature taken from Medieval castle design.” It is now short stay accommodation.

Post Office
Located at 190-192 Manifold Street, this solid bluestone building was built in 1863 as the town's first post office building and it is still used for its original purpose. The Commonwealth Heritage List (see http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=106130 for the full entry) notes: “The Camperdown Post Office, constructed in 1863 and with major works of 1909, is significant as one of the oldest remaining established postal and telecommunications buildings within Victoria … The post office is also one of the earliest public buildings in Camperdown, being erected within ten years of settlement in response to the rapid development of the district from 1853 … Camperdown Post Office is an uncommon example of a Federation-era Freestyle Arts and Crafts grafting and reworking of a mid-Victorian Italianate public building, with a high degree of external intactness from these key periods.  Camperdown Post Office is also a rare surviving example from a very small group of post offices with quarters constructed during the early 1860s in Victoria which has remained in continuous postal operation.  It is further distinguished by the comparatively early, and uncommon, integration of telegraph facilities within the same building. Stylistically, the reworked building is an unusual and distinctive graft of Victorian Italianate and Federation Free Style examples, further distinguished by the atypical use of bluestone rather than brick “

The Clock Tower
Opposite the post office, in the central plantation, is the Boer War Memorial. Just to its east, at the intersection of Manifold, Church and Pike Streets is the town's centrepiece - an dominant 35-metre, red-brick Gothic-style clock tower with a mansard roof. It was erected in 1896-1897 with £1000 bequeathed from the estate of Thomas Manifold (the third son of John Manifold, the first European settler in the area) who was killed in a hunting accident in 1895. The tower was designed by local architect, Michael McCabe. The clock itself was made in England. It is rewound once a week by means of a hand-operated crank. The chimes initially sounded every quarter of an hour 24 hours a day but complaints by residents of the nearby Leura Hotel saw a device installed in 1907 to silence the chimes from 11.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. except those which occur on the hour. The tower is open on the first Sunday of each month when it is possible to climb to the top (via 95 steps) and enjoy the views. Group bookings are available by appointment, tel: (03) 5593 3144.

Located at 181 Manifold Street, opposite the clock tower, the town's former courthouse is now the Visitor Information Centre. Built 1886-87 this solid and distinguished High Victorian building features some outstanding polychromatic brickwork. The Victorian Heritage Database records that it “was constructed in Medieval Gothic Revival style in 1886-7, to the design of Public Works Department architect GBH Austin as a replacement for an earlier timber court house of 1858-9. The Court House was closed in 1990, after which court cases were transferred to the modern court complex at Colac … The inventive polychromatic brick design and artificial stone mouldings are enhanced with decorative elements derived from medieval architecture in a manner characteristic of the High Victorian Secular Gothic movement in Great Britain. It features a truncated pyramid roof with iron cresting.” For more information regarding the Visitor Information Centre, tel: (03) 5593 3144.

Robert Burns Statue
Located in the Shire Offices is a life-sized statue of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns and his dog, carved by John Greenshields. It used to be located in the Botanic Gardens but vandalism forced the council to remove it to these safer quarters. It is listed in the Victorian Heritage Database which notes that: "The statue of Robert Burns known as Burns was carved in Scotland in 1830, probably at Milton, on the Clyde River, Glasgow by John Greenshields (1792-1835). Greenshields based the work on a painting by Peter Taylor, a friend of Burns, which is documented as being from life and the earliest likeness made of Burns. The sculpture illustrates Burns' words: 'One night as I did Wander,/ When corn begins to shoot,/ I sat me down to ponder,/ Upon an auld tree root'. The statue was commissioned by William Taylor, a relative of Peter Taylor who had inherited the portrait in 1829. The statue was sent to Camperdown from London on 22 March 1883 by William Taylor's son William Andrew Taylor who lived at Renny Hill, Camperdown. In April 1883 he donated the sculpture for installation in the Camperdown Botanic Gardens, where it was placed on the ground. In December 1883 it was placed on a rectangular two-metre high rendered concrete pedestal." For a more detailed account, check https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/165957.

Statue of James Chester Manifold
Located in the median strip on the corner of Manifold and Pike Street, is the statue of James Chester Manifold, the fourth son of Camperdown’s original settler, John Manifold. Monument Australia records that “James Manifold was a director of the Camperdown Cheese and Butter Factory, established in 1891, and its chairman from 1907. A keen sportsman, he captained the Camperdown polo team.   He entered public life as a member of the Hampden Shire Council in the 1890s and was twice president. In 1901 he was elected as the first member for the Federal seat of Corangamite, sitting as a Protectionist, but retired because of ill health in 1903. He was persuaded to oppose the sitting member J. H. Scullin, and defeated him at the 1913 elections. A `very popular man of the unobtrusive sort`, he retained the seat until his death. See https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/industry/display/30605-james-chester-manifold for more information.

Empire Boer War Memorial
Located in the median strip on Manifold Street, the Empire Boer War Memorial was designed by E. Carpenter and completed in 1902 by builder Wooles & Carpenter. The statue honours two Camperdown soldiers, Private Arthur Jones, who was killed at Kroonstadt on 24 October 1900, and Trooper John Laurence, who died at Schurreberg Stoek on 23 August 1901. The Australasian of 11 October 1902 recorded: “The unveiling of the memorial to the soldiers who went from Camperdown to the war and died took place on October 2. Colonel Hoad performed the ceremony. The relatives of the soldiers to whom the memorial is erected were all present. The statue cost £250. It is a figure of a mounted rifleman in full dress supported by marble and granite bases.” See https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/boer/display/30603-south-african-boer-war-memorial for more information.

Leura Hotel
Located at 175 Manifold Street, the Leura Hotel was rebuilt in 1902 on the site of the town's first public house. At the time it was known as the most impressive hotel in western Victoria. The bluestone building behind the hotel was erected in 1857 as the stables. It is the oldest building in town. It is claimed that there is a ghost who resides in Room 25. For details check out https://www.standard.net.au/story/4039589/ghost-file-4-the-mystery-of-room-25.

The Camperdown Buggy Museum
Located at 28 Ower Street, the Camperdown Buggy Museum features a collection of 16 traps and buggies which date back to c.1880. All are from the local area. The buggies are located in a 1947 Nissan building which open by appointment, tel: (03) 5293 1119 and it will be opened for you. Guided tours are provided. It is possible to get a buggy ride but notice must be given the day before. Check out http://aumuseums.com/vic/barwon/camperdown-buggy-museum.

Railway Station
Located in Longmore Street, the small, but handsome, Camperdown railway station was opened in 1883. It is listed in the Victorian Heritage Database as a fine example of a railway station having “archaeological value in a local context under the 'linking Victorians by rail' and 'building Victoria's industries and workforce' framework in Victoria's Framework of Historical Themes.” Check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/204386 for more information.

Camperdown Steam Laundry
Located at 6 Paton Street, the Camperdown Steam Laundry is a remarkable building which is listed in the Victorian Heritage Database which notes: “The Camperdown Steam Laundry was built in 1920 for the Camperdown Steam Laundry Company Pty Ltd. It was designed by local architect of note, WP (Perry) Knights, who won many commissions in the Camperdown district in the first decades of this century. When built the two-storey, brick and timber structure incorporated both a modern steam laundry complex and accommodation for the manager. Water for the laundry was stored in a concrete tank. The laundry building is Tudor or Old English in style and features many stylistic elements derived from the early twentieth century English Arts and Crafts Movement including steeply pitched gable roofs, rough cast cement render, oiled timber shingles and strapwork on the prominent gables, Diocletian window, and timber piers and bracketing, The Steam Laundry successfully captured much of Camperdown’s industrial, commercial and domestic laundry business. Laundry operations ceased in the 1970s, after which the building was variously used as a restaurant and private residence. The exterior is largely intact and incorporates original signage in the fabric of the archway at the entrance to the building.” Check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5310 for more details.

St Paul’s Church of England
Located at the corner of Church Street and Fergusson Street, is St Paul's Church of England (1864) and the adjacent bluestone vicarage. The Church Histories website notes: “The building of St Paul's Parish Church commenced in 1863 with substantial contributions from families whose descendants still worship in the parish. With local tradesmen directing the stonework and carpentry, both the church and the vicarage were completed within four months. The Church was built in three stages with chancel and sanctuary, and transepts and bell tower added later. In 1894 a vestry and Lady Chapel were added. Architecturally it is a mixture of styles, including Norman and Gothic. Both the church and the vicarage are built in bluestone with Welsh slate roofs. The church features sandstone surrounds for the doors and windows. The pulpit and font are cut from the same sandstone. The original pews and choir stalls are still in use, however, in 1989 the floor was replaced and carpeted, and heating installed. From 1888, stained glass windows have been a feature. The great west window is in memory of Peter and Thomas John Manifold. A Memorial Garden is established in the grounds. Check out https://www.churchhistories.net.au/church-catalog/camperdown-vic-st-pauls-anglican for more details and the Victorian Heritage Database (https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/196987) lists the stained glass window of St George as part of Victoria War Heritage inventory.

Flour Mill
Located at 3-5 Curdie Street, the old bluestone three-storey flour mill, which dates from 1868, has been converted into eleven luxury apartments and a restaurant. Check out https://www.weekendnotes.com/the-mill-camperdown/ for more details. Tel: (03) 5593 2200.

Located at 9 Campbell Street is 'Keeyuga', now a private home, which was built in 1902. It is a handsome three-storey residence, with Gothic ornamentation, was the home of local architect, Michael McCabe, who designed the town's famous clock tower and Catholic Church.

St Andrew's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church
Located on the corner of Barkly Street and Leura Street, is St Andrew's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church and its bluestone manse. It is listed in the National Trust database which notes: “An auditorium-type church of 1901 by Evander McIver, added on to the existing stone nave of c1860, and carried out in a simplified Gothic style of mixed period origins. The tower is a later addition.” Check out http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/search/nattrust_result_detail/67833.

St Patrick’s Catholic Church
Located at 27 Walls Street, St Patrick's Catholic Church (1900), designed by Michael McCabe who was also responsible for the town's clock tower. It has since been extended and altered in 1923 and 1990. The Churches of Australia website notes: “In 1889 Fr O'Neill was appointed the first resident priest. The present site was purchased as a more suitable location, with the old church building moved in two sections on horse frame, in 1891, to the current site. This old weatherboard church building continued to be used as a Catholic School until it was destroyed by fire in 1935. The current St Patrick's church was built in 1900. The building was enlarged in 1923 with the addition of a sanctuary and vestry, and improvements, including the installation of new leadlight windows. Major renovations and alterations were undertaken in 1990, with the entrance changed to Walls Street.” See https://www.churchesaustralia.org/list-of-churches/locations/victoria/directory/2979-st-patrickand%2339%3Bs-catholic-church for more information.


Other Attractions in the Area

Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf
Mount Leura is only a little over 2 km from the centre of Camperdown. Drive south on Lawrence Street and continue into Mount Leura Road which leads to a carpark near the summit (313 m above sea-level). There are views over the crater and the almost perfectly conical Mount Sugarloaf which lies to the south-west. Sugarloaf was purchased in 1970 by the National Trust to prevent it being further damaged by quarrying.
Mount Leura was formed within the last 20,000 years. It was created when lava which emerged from a vent in a volcanic crater solidified. It is low lying. However Mount Leura is the largest cone in the area and it offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside which is characterised by a large number of crater lakes and cones and the world's third-largest volcanic plain.
The area is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database which notes: "The Mount Leura complex is significant as a geological site. It comprises an outstanding example of a group of scoria cones within a broad volcanic crater, or maar. Because it is a relatively young landform the features visible within it are very fresh and unaltered by erosion, so they show clearly the processes by which they were formed.
The value of the geological feature is enhanced by the fact that much of it lies within a public reserve provided with a network of footpaths, so that the site can be readily accessed by student groups and the community." For more information check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/67684.
There is a trail which  leads from the carpark, past a lookout and information site, around the crater of Mount Leura and up Mount Sugarloaf. The information site has information boards outlining the area's geology. To the north-west are the sandstone ridges of the Grampians mountain range; to the north are Mount Meningoort (250 m), Mount Kurweeton and the bulk of Mount Elephant (420 m) with the Central Grampians in the distance; to the west are Mount Shadwell (300 m) and Mount Noorat (340 m); to the east Lake Purrumbete, Lake Corangamite and Mount Porndon; and, to the south, on a clear day, views extend as far south as the Great Southern Ocean.

Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum
Located at 220 Park Road (approximately 6 km west of the town and through the Camperdown Caravan Park), the Camperdown Botanic Gardens feature an arboretum, picnic/barbecue facilities and a lookout over Lake Bullen Merri (to the south) and Lake Gnotuk (to the north). The 1.2 hectare site of the Botanic Gardens and 6.9 hectare Arboretum are part of the 118 hectare allotment which was initially reserved in July 1869 as the Camperdown Public Park. The Botanic Gardens were designed by William Guilfoyle (he is recognised as one of Australia's greatest garden designers), the gardens contain some rare examples of Himalayan Oak, African Holly, Downy Oak, Italian Maple and Montezuma Pine. For more detailed information on the gardens, check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/4374.

Lake Bullen Merri and Lake Gnotuk
Located approximately 4 km west of Camperdown via Park Lane (just beyond the Botanic Gardens), Lake Bullen Merri and Lake Gnotuk are twin volcanic craters lying in what geologists call a maar. Lake Bullen Merri is easily accessible while Lake Gnotuk has no simple public access. Lake Bullen Merri is 3 km wide, reaches a depth of 66 metres and is shaped like a clover leaf - it was probably three adjoining craters. Lake Gnotuk reaches a depth of 20 metres and is almost as wide as Bullen Merri. Lake Bullen Merri is fed by underground springs. While water seeps into Gnotuk and evaporation has caused an intense build-up of salinity. It is twice as salty as sea water. Noted Victorian artist Eugene von Guerard painted Bullen Merri in 1858 and, on the basis of the accuracy of this painting, it is clear that the lake has shrunk over the past 140 years. Today it is a habitat for migratory birds and a breeding ground for fish with anglers being rewarded with brown trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, chinook salmon, redfin and Australian Bass. It is possible to see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, falcons, goshawks, kestrels, parrots and waterbirds. Lake Bullen Merri is an excellent fishing spot and a popular location for swimming, power-boating, watersking and sailing. There are picnic, barbecue and playground facilities and a boat ramp. Small boats can be launched from the North Beach. There is a swimming area, a fenced swimming area for children, and yachting and angling clubs at South Beach Reserve. Check out https://lakesandcratersholidaypark.com.au/lake-bullen-merri/ for more information.

Camperdown Grandstand
Located at the Camperdown Racecourse at 185 Camperdown-Lismore Road, 3 km to the north of the centre of town, the impressive Grandstand is listed by the Victorian Heritage Database which notes: "The Camperdown Turf Club Grandstand was built in 1902-03 to the design of notable local architect Michael McCabe ... it is of architectural significance as a substantial and intact example of a Federation era grandstand with a spectator mound skilfully integrated into the design. One of the largest racecourse grandstands in Victoria, it is a dominant element in the flat racecourse landscape and a district landmark. The Bar represents an intact example of an early refreshment pavilion at a sporting venue." Check https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/13982 for more details.

Timboon House
Located 5 km north of Camperdown at 320 Old Geelong Road, Timboon House was built 1855-1856 as 'Lake Inn'. It was built for publican Samuel Cozens. The hotel ceased to operate in 1859. It is a two-storey bluestone building with the original veranda now removed. It is one of the oldest surviving inns of the Western District. The Victorian Heritage Database notes of the house's significance: "Timboon House (formerly Lake Inn) is historically important as one of the most intact early inns remaining in western Victoria. Its size also emphasises the important function of the inn during the age of coach travel, when it was strategically located on the main thoroughfare through the Western District. Timboon House is important as a key remnant of the former Lake Timboon settlement, which was the site of one the earliest European settlements in the region. It is also one of the oldest buildings in the district, and the largest of the early stone buildings in Camperdown. Though Timboon House is now located in an area long bypassed by the main highway and the urban development of Camperdown, it is testament to earlier settlement and communication patterns in the region, which in turn was the focus of some of the most intensive and successful pastoral development in the State. Timboon House (formerly Lake Inn) is architecturally significant as a rare and essentially intact example of a purpose-built 1850s Colonial Georgian style inn. Its design elements, including an unusual 'H' plan layout where single storey wings flank a two storey bluestone structure, make it a distinctive landmark structure in the oldest settled area of Camperdown. The substantially intact internal inn layout, including the existence of a series of small accommodation rooms, distinguishes it from contemporary domestic residences. The extensive plantings of exotic species, including the large mature oaks and ashes flanking the entrance drive, are important elements in the layout of the former inn." The house is now known as Timboon House and Stables. It offers accommodation and is a wedding venue. Check out http://www.timboonhouse.com.au for more information.

Camperdown-Timboon Rail Trail
The delightful rail trail, which was established in 1994 and opened in 2009, startsin Camperdown and continues through to Timboon Railway Station. It is 34 km long and has, as a bonus, the ability to cycle across the trestle bridge at Curdies River.
The railway was originally built to serve the farmers and timber cutters in the Heytesbury Forest. It was a major feat of engineering with 34 bridges and 84 culverts. The most important bridge was the Curdies River Trestle Railway Bridge which was restored in 2010. On the trail you can see blackwoods, woolly tea trees, messmates, tree ferns and cherry ballart and the local fauna includes koalas, kangaroos, sugar glider possums and the habitat for the Powerful Owl. For more information check out https://www.railtrails.org.au/trails/camperdown-to-timboon.

Lake Purrumbete
Located 14 km south-east of Camperdown, Lake Purrumbete is situated within an ancient volcanic crater. It is located in a maar which is estimated to be around 20,000 years old and is 45 metres deep and 2.5 km across. and is considered an excellent fishing venue which is known for its rainbow trout, brown trout and chinook salmon. Birdlife around the lake includes pelicans, black swans, native ducks and other water birds. The lake has barbecue and picnic facilities, a boat ramp (on the south-western shore) and a caravan park.

Lake Bookaar
Located 14 km north of Camperdown via the Darlington-Camperdown Road, Lake Bookaar (sometimes spelt Bookar) is an ideal place to experience a wetland reserve by taking a nature walk around the shoreline of this permanent salt lake. It is known for its birdlife and its impressive flora displays in springtime. Check https://www.corangamite.vic.gov.au/Parks-sport-recreation/Lake-Bookaar for more information.



* Prior to European settlement the Kuurn Kopan Noot First Nation people called the area home.

* The first Europeans in the area were probably a search party looking for missing explorers Gellibrand and Hesse in 1837.

* The first settlers in the district were John, Thomas and Peter Manifold who came from Van Dieman's Land to take up a 100,000 acre run in 1839. It was called 'Purrumbete', based on the northern shore of Lake Purrumbete.

* In 1841 George Robinson, Chief Protector of Aborigines, visited 'Purrumbete' and submitted a report on the relations between the Manifolds and the local Aborigines: "The Manifolds stated that they did not allow the natives to come to their huts. At first they did so and the natives were very useful. But when they were getting their potatoes they detected the natives stealing them and sent them away. At another time they lost some sheep and went to the stony rises to see if they could find anything out, when they were suddenly surrounded by natives who gave them battle".

* The Manifold family's first hut was replaced by Purrumbete homestead in 1842. Funds were later provided by the family for a public hospital, a road to the top of Mount Leura, extensions to the high school library and the town's fine clock tower.

* Thomas Alexander Browne (aka Rolf Boldrewood), the author of Robbery Under Arms, passed by Lake Purrumbete in 1843 while overlanding 1000 head of cattle to his own property further west.

* A town known as Old Timboon began to develop at a site about 3 km north of Camperdown in the early 1850s. Duncan McNicol built the first store - a crude slab hut with a canvas door.

* The first house was built on the townsite in 1853 where the Commercial Hotel now stands.

* Governor Latrobe chose the new township's name in 1854. 

* Postal services commenced the following year and the first hotel opened in 1857.

* James Bonwick visited the town in 1857 and recorded that Camperdown was "romantically situated upon the slope of that grand old volcano, Leura ...The soil is of the richest description, and the gardens around ... testify to its goodness."

* A courthouse, the Leura Hotel, a school, a police station, a survey office and a store were all being erected in 1859.

* A Presbyterian Church was established in 1860.

* A Bible Christian Church was completed in 1862.

* The town's first Post Office was opened in 1863.

* St Paul's Anglican Church was consecrated in 1864.

* A regular coach service from Geelong to Warrnambool commenced in the 1860s, stopping at Camperdown en route.

* An Aboriginal reserve was established on the townsite in the 1860s.

* The early 1870s saw Cobb & Co commence a regular service between Warrnambool and Camperdown.

* In 1874 the local Botanic Gardens were opened.

* The railway connected the town to Melbourne in 1883.

* The mechanics' institute, masonic hall, the avenue of elms, the clock-tower and the courthouse were all built in 1886.

* A cheese factory opened in 1891.

* In 1897 a Gothic clock tower in memory of a member of the Manifold family was built in the main street.

* In 1902 the Leura Hotel was rebuilt.

* A grammar school was opened in 1904.

* In 1907 the Manifold family gifted a hospital to the town.

* A large cooperative dairy factory was established in 1914.

* A State High School was opened in 1921.

* In 1928 the Camperdown Theatre was opened.

* Camperdown became a municipality in 1952.

* Camperdown was officially declared a town in 1959.

* In 1994 Camperdown became part of the new Corangamite Shire.

* In 2014 the Camperdown Cheese and Butter factory became Camperdown Dairy International. It produced milk powder and infant formula for Asia.


Visitor Information

Visitor information is provided by the Court House, 179 Manifold Street., tel: (03) 5593 3144.


Useful Websites

For more information check out https://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/towns-and-villages/camperdown.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

1 suggestion so far
  • A group of 6/8 of us from a bushwalking group are planning (hopefully) a caravan trip within Victoria and 3/4 days in Camperdown.I have your list of town sites but was wondering whether there was a town tour from the info centre. This is always the best way to understand a town.
    Also are there any short walks in or around town ?
    Any info which you think would be of value for a 4 day stay would be appreciated and we are especially interested in outdoor activities.
    P.S. we are all in our 70s and 80s but active.