Pastoral runs in the Stawell area were selected in the 1840s, but it was the gold found by a shepherd in the district in May 1853 that provided the real reason for the foundation of a township. By August 1854, 5,000 people were seeking their fortune at the Pleasant Creek goldfield. By 1857 the fabulously rich deep alluvial leads of Commercial Street and Deep Lead had been discovered and rushes of eager gold seekers brought 20,000 people to the fields.
The area was surveyed and proclaimed as Stawell in 1858. By the 1860s the alluvial fields were fading and the big business of reef mining took over, heralding an era of great private and civic prosperity during the 1870s. Mining of the quartz reefs in the Big Hill area yielded 58,000 tonnes of gold during 60 years.
The Stawell Athletic Club ran the first Stawell Gift in April 1878, which is still one of the world's richest professional foot races. A rising water table, insufficient investment funds and poor returns closed the big reef mines down in the 1920s. New prosperity for the town was forthcoming through the North West Woollen Mills which began processing in 1922. Mining recommenced in 1984 and the town is now Victoria's largest producer of gold.
Modern Stawell now has a vibrant and lively main street with a Grampians outlook. Although a reflection of this era, Stawell has maintained a proud, friendly and authentic country feel. This is evident in a number of fine historic buildings, including the Town Hall building. The animated clock and Westminster chimes still ring daily. Stawell's excellent range of accommodation and strong commercial centre makes it an ideal base for exploring the Grampians Ranges and nearby wineries.
The Northern Grampians Shire is rich with lifestyle opportunities and facilities. It offers a secure, rural setting, an enviable climate and excellent health and community services. Whether you choose country acres, a period home or a modern townhouse, realistic real estate prices mean you can genuinely afford to enjoy your choice of lifestyle.
More than 13,000 people call this district home. Together they are a welcoming, united community, drawn from diverse backgrounds. Families are the community building blocks and people are the richest resource, creating a highly skilled, committed and multi disciplinary workforce.
Outstanding sporting, recreational and leisure services make for a spirited, energetic population endowed with an exceptional natural environment. Amongst the myriad of activities on offer are bushwalking, rock climbing, boating, fishing, swimming, racquetball, squash, cricket, basketball, badminton, netball, football, shooting sports and hockey. Managed facilities include bowling greens, golf courses, tennis courts, racecourses, indoor stadiums, sports ovals, libraries, entertainment centres and service clubs. If the arts are more your taste, you'll be inspired by galleries, museums and a lively network of like-minded enthusiasts.
Transport, communication, utilities and services infrastructure are well developed. The Shire's two first-class hospitals, medical centres, helicopter and radio ambulance services provide the very best in medical care and are complemented by extensive patient services including pathology, radiology, physiotherapy, visiting surgeons and specialists, youth services and community-based health education and support services. Residents with disabilities are well-catered for through a network focused on community integration.