Balmoral is a small rural service centre on the banks of the Glenelg River surrounded by river red gums and undulating countryside.
This area was known as 'Darrangurt' by the local Aborigines who constructed large-scale, artificial drainage systems north-east of Balmoral c.1700 AD.These channels drained marshy ground lying between two natural swamps. When it rained the swamps overflowed and eels and fish were flushed into the channels and a series of traps.
Major Thomas Mitchell passed nearby on his Australia Felix expedition of 1836. The first land was taken by whites around 1840 and several homesteads from the 1840s remain: 'Fulham' was built in the 1840s for pastoralist George Armytage who was a major landholder in the Western District.
The township was built around a river crossing on the Glenelg for people travelling between Melbourne and Adelaide. There was an inn, a fellmongery, store and woolshed.
A police camp was established in the 1850s to catch Chinese immigrants who landed in South Australia and walked to the Victorian goldfields to avoid paying a poll tax.
Things to see:
Courthouse and Gaol
The 1877 weatherboard courthouse in Glendinning St has a small display of historic items. Inspection by appointment - 03 5570 1377. At the rear is an 1866 ironstone gaol which is on private property.
Stanmore Folk Sculpture
Stanmore Folk Sculpture features the works of Betty Trottman. Betty's workshop in her historic 1860s home is open weekends and school holidays in the afternoon or by appointment - (03) 5570 1393.
A recreational area, with picnic facilities, overlooking Mathers Creek in Fairburn St.
Balmoral Arts and Crafts
Balmoral Arts and Crafts, in Glendinning St, is open three-and-a-half days a week.
Located at the corner of Glendinning St and Stirling St has picnicking facilities.
On the eastern side of town, along Rocklands Road, is the original ford over the Glenelg River, used in the mid-19th century by Cobb & Co coaches carrying passengers and freight between Melbourne and Adelaide.
Balmoral Golf Course
Balmoral has an 18-hole sandscrape golf course set in natural bushland which was the site of the state golf championships twice in the 1990s.
Rocklands Reservoir, Toolondo Reservoir and Black Range State Park
Rocklands Reservoir (a part of the Wimmera-Mallee irrigation system) is the major local attraction. A popular fishing and boating area to the east of Balmoral, it is surrounded by state forests and has a number of camping areas situated on the foreshore of the reservoir.
The park has masses of wildflowers, Aboriginal rock art, colourful bluffs, great views, walking tracks and picnic areas. It is usually a good spot for boating, waterskiing, sailing, swimming and fishing (for redfin and trout) although the longest drought on record has had a major impact on the water level. For further information on bushwalking, maps or regulations about fishing, boating and bush camping, contact Parks Victoria's local office on 03 5574 2308.
Glendinning Camping Area and Claude Austin State Park
Glendinning Camping Area lies to the south-east of Balmoral. To get there follow Cavendish Road south from Balmoral for about 6 km then turn left into Yarramyljup Road (surfaced but unsealed) or take the left onto the sealed road 13 km from Balmoral. Both lead to Glendinning homestead (see subsequent entry) and the Glendinning Camping Area on the reservoir's southern foreshore. This campsite has a boat ramp, fireplaces, toilets and picnic facilities.
On the south-western edge of Rocklands Reservoir is the Glendinning Homestead complex. It has an 1850s shearing shed while the Edwardian homestead was built of handmade bricks in 1909. There is a private wildlife sanctuary. The garden and scenery can be viewed through the stained-glass windows of the garden-court room. The complex is open to the public between September and May by appointment only - 03 5574 3260.
Fulham Streamside Reserve
Fulham Streamside Reserve, on the Glenelg River, is north of town, along the road to Horsham, about 12 km from Balmoral.
Mt Talbot Scenic Reserve
North-east of Toolondo, is Mount Talbot Scenic Reserve with a walking track to the summit. Mt Talbot is considered an important Aboriginal site.