Stawell is the closest large town to the Grampians National Park and the park's tourist village of Halls Gap, making it an ideal base to explore the natural attractions in the area.
Stawell enjoyed a rich gold mining boom during the Victorian Gold Rush days. However, while mining ceased in 1920, Stawell Gold Mines opened in 1981 and is still operating as one of Victoria's largest gold mines. A viewing area on Reefs Road allows the public to observe mining operations.
The town centre originally developed along Longfield Street (Western Highway), close to Pleasant Creek where gold was first discovered in 1853. Along Longfield Street is the old shire hall office (built in 1866) and a few doors down is Stawell's original courthouse (1860) which now operates as a local history museum.
Stawell's population later began to shift eastwards to the Big Hill area where quartz gold was discovered, and this is where Stawell's main commercial centre lies today. Shops line Main Street between Layzell Street and Victoria Street, set against the backdrop of the Grampians mountain range to the south.
Notable historic buildings in Stawell include the railway station on Napier Street (built in 1877) which has been turned into a gallery showcasing paintings, sculptures and craft. The town hall, at the corner of Main Street and Joyce Lane, dates back to 1872, and there are several historic churches which grace the streets of Stawell.
A few hundred metres south-west of the main shopping precinct is Central Park with its heritage-listed grandstand that hosts the prestigious and world famous annual Stawell Gift foot race. Nearby is Cato Park - a lovely relaxing park with a lake, rotunda, playground and picnic facilities.
Just to the east of the commercial centre of Stawell is Big Hill. The Pioneers Memorial at the peak offers fine views over the town centre and surrounding countryside.
28 kilometres north-west of Stawell on the Western Highway is the small community of Dadswells Bridge. It is located on Mt William Creek at the northern tip of the Grampians National Park, and famous for the Giant Koala - a 14 metre high fibreglass and bronze structure, built in 1988 on the highway next to a restaurant, tea rooms a small native and farm animal zoo.