Rutherglen was originally settled by squatters in 1836 but the discovery of gold in nearby Chiltern some 20 years later caused great excitement. The town grew to a population of 20,000 by 1861. But it was wine which made Rutherglen famous. The first vines were planted in the 1850s and by 1890.
View ornate period buildings, significant historical markers and read about many of the characters who shaped Rutherglen’s earliest years. Find the answers to interesting questions such as ‘Where did Rutherglen get its name from?’ and ‘Why exactly was the mortuary attached to a prominent local pub?’
A copy of the book can be downloaded from the Historical Touring Route.
This walk also has and accompanying audio files that act as your guide. Listen here.
View Route on Map
Start Walking: Rutherglen Wine Experience and Visitor Information Centre
Not many people know, but the township of Rutherglen was originally settled by squatters. Fast forward a few years and this town was flowing with fine wine and shimmering with glittering gold. By the 1850s, more than 20,000 pioneers converged on the area in search of gold and the good life.
Rutherglen Visitor Information Centre
Start at the Rutherglen Visitor Information Centre. Cross the Murray Valley Highway and turn right. Cross old railway line and rail trail. Cross Booth, Hunter and Lord Streets.
But wine would prove to be the long-term lifeblood of the region. Lindsay Brown, the noted father of Rutherglen wine, once said 'Dig gentleman dig, but no deeper than six inches, for there is more gold to be won from the top six inches than from all of the depths below'. Thanks to families such as the Browns, Campbell’s and Killeen’s you can sample wine from some of the oldest vines in Australia.
Rutherglen Wine Bottle
At 800m, cross the road then turn left and connect with the blue metal gravel path adjacent to Hopetoun Road. Follow the path and at 900m cross Hopetoun Road. At the Rutherglen Wine Bottle turn left onto Hunter Street and right onto Culbertson Street.
Cross Murphy and Harris
Cross Murphy and Harris Streets then at 1.9km turn left onto High Street at the church. At 2km turn right to cross High Street and pass St Mary’s School. Cross High Street again shortly after. At 2.4km cross Reid Street and turn right to cross High Street.
The walk will take you by Rutherglen’s most important and historic buildings including hotels, banks and schools. And what historic walking tour would be complete without checking out the original local mortuary?
At 2.5km cross Main Street and continue on High Street. At 2.6km turn right onto Murray Street and head towards Lake King. At 2.7km turn left and cross Murray Street to join the Lake king walking track behind the toilets and head to the right.
The beauty of this walk is that it will land you right back in the middle of town. Combine the beautifully preserved shop fronts of the main street and a little imagination, and you can almost picture yourself in the middle of those heady gold rush days.
A Pub with its own Morgue
Continue to follow the track closest to the lake and take a left at the track junction at 3.2km. Continue to follow the track. Exit the track to the right at the bollards to head towards High Street. Follow the gravel road to the left.