Casterton is the quintessential Australian country town. Its wide main street is lined by a variety of shops with many still boasting sheltering verandas. Built on both sides of the Glenelg River valley with a sturdy bridge spanning this relatively small stream and connecting both sides of the town this is the central service town of the far south west of Victoria.
Like most country towns it has seen better days but the town soldiers on servicing mainly the grazing industry with some forestry thrown in the mix. It is an incredibly picturesque town with high hills all around and in spring the nearby bushland is a wonderful mix of wildflowers. It is no wonder that in 1836 Major Mitchell called the district Australia Felix, Beautiful Australia.
Casterton has a nice little 25 site caravan park but when the town gets at all busy it is usually full. Just out on the edge of town the Ess Lagoon provides a wonderful free camping site for up to 30 days for self-contained rigs. Situated on the banks of the Ess Lagoon only about a brisk 5 minute walk or 10 minute leisurely stroll from the centre of town this site has no facilities but it does have delightful places to camp right beside the water.
Fishing here is good with plenty of redfin, trout and other species in the Lagoon. There is plenty of room for larger rigs on the attractive grassy flats on both sides of the lagoon with both sunny and shady sites readily available. Visitors staying for more than a few days are required to be fully self-contained but those only staying a night or two need only to catch their waste water in a bucket and dispose of it away from the lagoon.
Casterton is famous for its annual Kelpie Muster held during June, when up to 10,000 visitors roll up, and is the home town of Tom Cue after whom the town of Cue in Western Australia was named. In WA he also had another town named after him for some years and a train also carried his name. In WA Tom Cue was very famous but in Casterton he is largely unknown.
There also has many more nearby attractions. Warrock Homestead, established in 1841, the station that figures in the Kelpie Legend is a short drive north along the charming Glenelg Valley and is usually open for inspection, along with its many interesting outbuildings.
A little further north you come to the tiny village of Dergholm with its Pub in the Scrub, the Menzies Hotel. This hotel has been in its present position for a great many years and as far as I can tell has never stopped trading. On Sundays it serves up a great wood fired pizza and has live music throughout the afternoon. It’s a lovely drive and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Another suggested drive is to the east and nearby town of Coleraine. Just a little smaller than Casterton it is a charming place to stop and try the Chocolate Factory wares or simply admire the town itself. You can make it a circuit drive and take the road south-west from Coleraine to the hamlet of Merino thence back to Casterton through the village of Sandford where you cross the Wannon River before re-entering Casterton and heading back to your campsite.
These days it is very helpful if your rig is fully self-contained. That is: a water tank, toilet, shower and a grey water tank for your sink, shower and hand basin water. A fully self-contained van will ensure you are welcome at many more free campsites. Casterton has a toilet dump site beside the caravan park toilets where you need not enter the park to empty your grey water tank and toilet.
Casterton can be found 42km east of the SA border or about 320km west of Melbourne.
The free campsite can be found on the edge of town just off the Dergholm road. at:
- 34. 53. S, 141. 23. 52. E.
Casterton has all facilities and services including an extremely good hospital.
Casterton’s population is around 1,800.
For more detailed information go to: http://www.casterton.org.au/about-casterton.html