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Big Hill Lookout

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Intersection of Big Hill Road, Scenic Road and Reefs Road, Stawell VIC 3380

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  • Lookout
  • Commemorative monuments
  • Rotunda
  • Bench seating
  • Picnic tables
  • Information signs
Head up to Big Hill at Stawell and check out the incredible views over the town, historical mining landscapes, the Black Range, and the stunning Grampians National Park. 

This lookout is one of the best in the region due to its panoramic views over several natural and heritage landscapes. 

Big Hill is a great spot to head for a picnic lunch with a view - although windy days may not be ideal. 

You could also head up in the late afternoon or evening to catch the sunset. 

There's a fantastic educational lookout over Stawell's working gold mine just a little further down Reefs Road, and just down the hill off Big Hill Road you will find a monument commemorating the first quartz crushing on The Reefs at Pleasant Creek. 

Lookout at big hill

A memorial rotunda stands in commemoration of the districts pioneers, which includes a board indicating the directions/distances of various surrounding landmarks. 

The rendered brick rotunda was erected in 1938 in memory of the district's pioneers. 

Gold mining at Big Hill

Gold had been discovered in the quartz outcrops on Big Hill in 1855 and although the difficult nature of working quartz for gold by hand hindered any major rushes to the reefs in those early years, there were a few who worked there with persistence. And it was in the quartz reefs where the Stawell goldfield would really shine!

In 1855, two parties made their way up to the quartz outcrops on the western slope of Big Hill. The first party, mates Sloane and Guppy, were getting some great colour in their quartz, but without any crushing machinery they just couldn't keep at it. 

The second party, Donnelly, Duncan, Proctor and Beechner, were working close by and struck a particularly rich vein, becoming the first party to strike payable gold up in the quartz reefs. Word soon spread, and before long folks were arriving at the reefs from diggings nearby.

But what good was all this rich quartz if there was no way of crushing it? They couldn't just keep smashing it up by hand if they ever hoped to make a profit.

Something had to be done, so Donnelly journeyed to Kingower to purchase a hand-powered berdan pan, a machine which reduces quartz using heavy iron balls. Combined with a hand-powered stamper, this rudimentary crushing machine, however inefficient, was a huge step forward in the development of the quartz mining field on The Reefs at Pleasant Creek.

Along his journey to Kingower, Donnelly had camped beside a fella named Wainwright and shared glowing reports of the rich quartz on Big Hill. Wainwright took these reports back to his mates at St Arnaud, who formed a party and headed for Pleasant Creek.

This party consisted of Dane, Blundell, Gutierrez, and Wainwright. It was Dane who pitched one of the first tents at the reefs, giving the field its first sense of permanency, and it was Dane who put the first lot of quartz through Donnelly's crushing machine, with an incredible yield of about 50 ounces to the ton!

Around early 1857, Grant, Lamont and Company erected a horse powered Chilean mill on Concongella Creek, and started crushing for the diggers. They charged a hefty price! But it was a very welcome development on the field. 

The quartz reefs were then taken on with a whole new level of enthusiasm. By the end of the 1850s the whole area of the quartz reefs had been taken up by small parties. As the great alluvial rushes at Pleasant Creek receded, the quartz miners remained steady at work. 

The 1860s saw many small parties working together, forming small companies and combining their capital to manage the expenses of mining and much-needed machinery. Stawell's first public company was registered in 1861 - The Pleasant Creek Quartz Mining Company - and many more soon followed. 

The Stawell Goldfield

Did you know that the Stawell goldfield was discovered using a frying pan? Ex convict, William McLachlan used his cooking dish to pan for gold in Pleasant Creek back in 1853, a discovery which ultimately led to the opening up of one of Victoria's most prominent quartz mining fields.

In this video, we're going to take a look at the brilliant gold mining history of Stawell!

You'll learn about the development of the goldfield and discover the deadly disaster at the Darlington Mine, the shocking claim jumps of the 1870s, the incredible story of the Magdala Mine, and more.

Check it out here!

Also of interest


  • There are many great places throughout the Goldfields that offer gorgeous, panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.


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