In north-eastern Victoria some 200 km from Melbourne, the area around Benalla is well-known for its scenic landscapes, picturesque lakes, rolling hills, winding rivers and the mountainous backdrop of Victoria’s High Country.
In addition, Benalla is also renowned for its cultural heart including its remarkable Performing Arts and Entertainment Centre, Regional Art Gallery, its beaut aquatic centre, the Winton Motor Raceway just 10 km away (the site of V8 supercar and other high profile races), the splendid Aviation Museum, the colourful ‘Wall to Wall’ street art, its lovely botanic gardens on the shores of Lake Benalla and, if you are into Aussie history, this is also the ‘home town’ of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly.
The bushranger in fact, had his first encounters with the law here including one of his escapes, recapture and court appearance in 1877 which are all included in today’s ‘Ned Kelly Touring Route’ through the area. Also, not far away is the ‘Kelly Tree’ at Stringybark Creek where the Kelly gang rose from petty crooks to Australia’s most wanted outlaws after three policemen were shot dead. The Benalla Cemetery is also worth checking out with many of Ned’s family buried there, as well as Joe Byrne, Kelly’s lieutenant.
Clearly Benalla has plenty to keep visitors in the area for at least a few days, and for those looking for a nearby free camping spot, Casey Weir Rest Area, just 9 km northwest of town, is an ideal base from which to take it all in.
Set up right on the banks of Stockyard Creek overlooking the water, this quite extensive, mostly flat campsite with a good deal of shade, has plenty of space and is quite suitable for all size self-contained rigs.
In early morning and late afternoon, check out the birdlife both in the water and along the banks of the creek. If you have a Victorian fishing licence you could also try your luck fishing here to see if you can catch your dinner. Murray cod are the prize fish in all these local waterways – good luck. At the time of our recent visit a large branch lay at the foot of a huge river red gum in the camping area – clearly this was a reminder to visitors not to camp under these big eucalyptus which are prone to dropping their branches without notice!
A wide range of supplies and services is available in nearby Benalla … and if you are into birdwatching, you must call into the Winton Wetlands, around 15 minutes’ drive from Benalla. This huge 8,750 hectare site has recorded over 180 different species and is the largest wetlands restoration project in the southern hemisphere.
Apart from Benalla, other splendid historic centres worth exploring include Wangaratta, Chiltern, Beechworth and Yackandandah – all within an hour or so drive from your Casey Weir campsite.
LOCATION: In northeast Victoria, 9 km northwest of Benalla along Midland Way (A300) on the banks of Stockyard Creek. GPS: 36 28 29 S, 145 56 41 E.
FACILITIES: Flat, open campsites, some with shade, around 100 to 200 metres off the road. Bins plus table and chairs are provided. No other facilities. Suitable for only self-contained RVs. Telstra mobile service available.
DISABLED: Nothing specific.
PETS: Allowed if kept under control.
CONTACT: Benalla Visitor Information Centre – phone (03) 5762 1749