Clunes was the site of Victoria's first gold strike in 1851 which led to a gold rush which swept through central Victoria, resulting in a massive population boost for the state and great wealth for many. These days, Clunes is an agricultural, pastoral and tourist township, nestled in a scenic valley.
Many of the original buildings in Clunes have been preserved from those gold rush days, perfectly illustrated with a visit to the wide and elegant Fraser Street. It is lined with 19th century buildings and shop fronts including the National Hotel (1862), Club Hotel (1870) and Union Bank (1865). That streetscape has caught the eye of film and TV producers with several high profile Australian movies and advertisements having scenes filmed there.
Running parallel to Fraser Street is the main thoroughfare of Bailey Street and it features a number of historic buildings including the old post office (built in 1878), the town hall (1872), courthouse (1872) and several churches.
Providing a pedestrian link between Fraser Street and Bailey Street are the gardens of Collins Place which include a paved square, rotunda and BBQ. Another park of interest is Queens Park, located between Creswick Creek and Ligar Street, just around the corner from the shops. The shady grounds of Queens Park date back to the 1870s and include a fountain (constructed in 1887), pergola, BBQ shelter and playground.
Esmond Park is located on a hillside overlooking the town centre and preserves a number of old gold mining sites including the Port Phillip Mine which operated in the area from 1857 to 1901. Following Scenic Drive through the park leads to a lookout which provides great views over the township and surrounding countryside. Esmond Park fronts Creswick Creek and there is a pleasant creek walk which follows the shady banks of this meandering waterway.
Clunes has a visitor information centre which occupies the former South Clunes School on the corner of Bailey Street and Suburban Street. This iconic school building also houses the Clunes Bottle Museum.