Victoria is blessed with sweeping coastlines, pristine beaches, national parks and forests teeming with wildlife, lakes and mountains offering skiing, climbing and hiking. Grand nineteenth-century architecture and elegant gardens are a reminder of Victoria's 'Gold Rush' past, while Aboriginal cultural landmarks and landscapes continue to connect Indigenous Australians with a living cultural heritage dating back more than 60,000 years.
On 1 July 1851, independence of Victoria from New South Wales was established proclaiming a new Colony of Victoria. Just a few days later gold was discovered near Ballarat, and subsequently at Bendigo. Later discoveries occurred at many sites across Victoria and triggered one of the largest gold rushes the world has ever seen. The colony grew rapidly in both population and economic power and within ten years the population of Victoria increased from 76,000 to 540,000. Immigrants arrived from all over the world to search for gold, especially from Ireland and China. Many Chinese miners worked in Victoria, and their legacy is particularly strong in Bendigo and its environs.
Eastern Victoria is blessed with an extremly diverse mix of landscapes, ranging from Alpine mountain ranges to coastal regions featuring countless beaches, lakes and wetlands. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a huge range of activities from hiking, climbing, swimmming and diving to cycling, mountain biking and skiing. The old gold mining towns in the northeast of the state offer numerous historical buildings dating back to the 19th century and many attractions are based on the gold rush era.