Heathcote originally developed mainly due a number of significant gold strikes in the area that began in 1851, which resulted tens of thousands of people living in the area, mostly in tents and shacks on the fields. The population declined as the gold dwindled during the 1890s, with the town's focus shifting to logging, sheep and cattle production.
In recent times, Heathcote has become recognised as a producer of extraordinary Shiraz wine, with a large selection of vineyards, many with cellar doors, dotted across the landscape.
Heathcote's commercial centre is situated along the long tree-lined boulevard of High Street, which features a number buildings of historical significance. The Camp Hill Gaol, located in Herriot Street, was built in 1861, while the town's hospital features a sandstone structure built in 1859. The McIvor Creek runs parallel to High Street, passing through Barrack Reserve which offers BBQ areas and sporting facilities.
A number of attractions are worth exploring in the Heathcote region. The Mount Ida Lookout, accessed via Mt Ida Road off the Northern Highway, offers good views over the surrounding district. Closer to town is the Viewing Rock lookout, accessed via Range Drive, providing views over the town centre. Pink Cliffs, off Pink Cliffs Road, features brightly coloured pinnacles and valleys which were creating during gold mining activities.
Head south of Heathcote to the small community of Tooborac. The undulating fields of the area are dotted with ancient granite boulders which are easily viewed by driving the loop of Lancefield-Tooborac Road, Tooborac-Baynton Road and Emu Flat-Baynton Road.
Lake Eppalock, Victoria's fourth-largest reservoir, is located to the west of Heathcote. It's a popular recreation area for fishing, swimming and boating enthusiasts and the surroundings of the lake include several caravan parks, camping grounds, picnic areas and public boat ramps.