Stunning country town benefits from direct links to Melbourne
STORY: MARGARET LINLEY PHOTOGRAPHY: VISIT VICTORIA & SUPPLIED
If ever a country town provided a fanfare welcome, it would be Camperdown. Travel the Princes Highway into this western district town and your arrival is heralded with two expansive columns of mature elm trees and an impressive Gothic clock tower dating from the end of the 19th century. Add to this, a full-size statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns and carefully manicured lawns on the central reservations, and you have a very real idea of the important role Camperdown played as a service centre for the pastoral empires.
Camperdown is in a rich agricultural area of south-west Victoria. It is set on a volcanic basalt plain (the third largest in the world) and surrounded by large salt and fresh water lakes with Mt Leura and Mt Sugarloaf nearby.
Camperdown is now considered to be the gateway to the tourist attractions of the Otways, the Great Ocean Road and the Shipwreck Coast.
It is also a major sport and recreation hub for the region with an international horse trials event, water skiing and yachting on the nearby lakes, and regular horse-racing meets at the turf club.
The crater to coast rail trail begins in Camperdown and passes through Cobden and Timboon and will eventually lead to Port Campbell.
The transport links are impressive with rail services to Warrnambool and Geelong and then from Geelong onto Melbourne. There are also buses linking the town to neighbouring towns and further onto Ballarat. For those wanting, or needing to drive, a $6.4 million traffic works program is underway, creating overtaking lanes between Camperdown and Colac, while a recent major upgrade to a double lane highway makes the drive between Colac and Geelong safer and less onerous.
Government investment in road structure and transport links is encouraging to people considering a move to the region and to Camperdown in particular.
Local residents have access to good health care. The local hospital provides emergency care in addition to acute care and aged care. It also has an obstetrics and gynaecology department and specialist radiology and imaging.
“Government investment in road structure and transport links is encouraging to people considering a move to the region and to Camperdown in particular.”
Aside from Camperdown’s imposing architecture, and the broad and triumphant public spaces, there are also less obvious gems. Head down to Lake Purrumbete and enjoy good honest home-cooked food and local wines on the deck at Lake View café. The serenity is magical. Or consider a visit, or retreat, to the Benedictine Abbey, an Anglican monastery, that welcomes visitors to its garden and to stop for quiet reflection and prayer. It also has accommodation for those wanting to make a silent retreat. The Botanical Gardens and arboretum are impressive and situated just out of town.
There is not a full calendar of cultural events, but two stand out. One, the Robert Burns Scottish Festival, is a weekend of dance, music, food and poetry. Rock the Clock, another anticipated event. is a vintage and retro festival with music, cars, fashion and markets. The Camperdown showground is transformed into a drive-in movie theatre for the weekend.
There is also a monthly market with home-made goods and fresh produce. The clocktower is open monthly to coincide with this and people can climb the tower and inspect the clock mechanism and enjoy the view.
The Mt Leura Hill Climb for motoring enthusiasts is both a sporting and cultural event and very popular with locals and visitors.
Take a wander through the streets branching off from Manifold St (that’s the name given to the Princes Highway as it passes through town) and you’ll be amazed at the large blocks, the established gardens and the stunningly grand residences.
Those looking to buy in town will be impressed by the prices and the range of properties; though they are not all grand. In fact, those which are most impressive are held on to tightly. The median house price is $288,000. Local property values have increased by 12.5 percent over the past year. With all the educational and medical services and the train link, it is not unrealistic to expect increased interest in the Camperdown property market.
The traditional Custodians of the land on which Camperdown stands are the Djargurd Wurrung people.
WATTLE ROAD 🖤 Camperdown has one of the most stunning historic streetscapes in Victoria and residents have easy access to Melbourne and Geelong, via the train or highway.
DISTANCE FROM MELBOURNE: 190km
TRANSPORT: Rail services to Warrnambool and Geelong and then from Geelong onto Melbourne. There are also buses linking the town to neighbouring towns and further onto Ballarat.
WHO LIVES HERE?
According to the 2016 Census:
♦ The median age of people in Camperdown was 49 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 17% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 29.2%.
♦ Of the families in Camperdown, 33.6% were couple families with children, 47.8% were couple families without children and 17.8% were one parent families.
♦ 85.6% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 2.1%, New Zealand 0.7%, Netherlands 0.6%, Scotland 0.3% and Philippines 0.3%.
♦ The most common occupations included professionals 16.1%, labourers 15.1%, technicians and trades workers 14.9%, managers 13.2%, and community and personal service workers 12.1%.
CLIMATE: June average daily temperatures, min 4.6 °C, max12.8 °C; December average temperatures, min 9.6°C, max 22.8 °C.
MAJOR EMPLOYERS: health, agriculture, manufacturing, education.
SCHOOLS: One government school – Camperdown College is a P-12 of 336 students offering VCE, VET and VCAL. There are two Catholic schools; St Patricks is a P-6 with 300 students and is a feeder school for Mercy College with 440 secondary students.
NBN CONNECTION: Fibre to the node (FTTN)
PROPERTY PRICES: The median sale price of a house in Camperdown is $288,000. Property values have increased by 12.5 percent in the last 12 months.
HEALTH CARE: The local hospital provides emergency care in addition to acute care and aged care. It also has an obstetrics and gynaecology department and specialist radiology and imaging.
SPORT AND RECREATION: golf, horse-racing, International Horse Trials, football, archery, badminton, cricket, cycling, lawn bowls, squash, tennis, water skiing, yachting and year-round fishing.
ARTS AND CULTURE: Heritage Museum, a couple of annual festivals. There is an active neighbourhood house with a men’s shed.
Mike Leadingham and Agneta Hjort
Mike: We were living in Melbourne and Agneta had some health issues which became a motivator for us to find a better environment and lifestyle. Somewhere less noisy and busy. We had multiple factors at play when making the choice to move here in June this year.
Agneta: We feel very fortunate here. We are on a big block and there is a generous road reserve out the front and farm land behind and to the left. The right location was not just about a health perspective. There was the ease of travel. Mike is an architect and he has his own business and Camperdown is quite central. There is a real ease of travel. The train can take you into Melbourne. Mike can get to Ballarat, Warrnambool. Hamilton, the Surfcoast, Geelong and Colac very easily.
Mike: We left Melbourne, rented our house out and rented a house out on the other side of Melbourne. What we discovered was no matter where we went, it was still a fairly dense population. There as an intensity of people we didn’t want to have to deal with.
Agneta: We drew a circle around Melbourne to see what was within three hours. We preferred the west. We liked the feel of some of the towns around here and particularly liked Camperdown. It’s historic, has very beautiful architecture and gardens, lovely broad streets and has the majority of services you would expect to find in a larger town. It’s very charming. And it’s very close to the coast.
Mike: And it has reasonable internet access which I need for my business, of course.
Agneta: Every single person we have met in Camperdown, and in this broader area, has been very authentic, friendly and interesting.
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
FIND A PROPERTY
105 Camperdown-Lismore Road, Camperdown
3 2 10
4721 Princes Highway, Camperdown
5 2 3
5 Fenton St, Camperdown
3 1 2
16 Hopetoun, Camperdown
3 1 4