Nestled on the basalt plains beneath the extinct volcano, Mt Rouse, Penshurst is south-east of Hamilton on the Hamilton Highway and 30km south of the Grampians mountain range. You can experience the town’s history by following the heritage trail of historic homes, buildings and churches. A brochure outlining the walk is available from the post office and the information centre
Penshust is the centre of a large agricultural and pastoral district on the Mt Rouse lava plain. The land was once occupied by the Nareeb Nareeb and Kolor Aborigines.
Major Mitchell sighted Mount Rouse during his Australia Felix expedition of 1837. From the top of Mount Napier he noted that smoke arose from many parts of the lower country, and showed: ‘the native inhabitants were very generally scattered over its surface. We could now look on such fires with indifference, so harmless were these natives, compared with those of the Darling, and the smoke, now ascended in equal abundance from the furthest verge of the horizon.’
The first settler to take up land at Mount Rouse was John Cox who had established a sheep station by 1840.
Several Lutheran churches reflect the movement of Germans from the Barossa Valley in South Australia as the Western District began to open up following the goldrushes of the 1850s.
When Penshurst was laid out it was given wide main streets to allow the turning of bullock trains.
One of the oldest structures in the region today is the original cottage built on the Napier property in 1858. The cottage now stands in the shadow of a more spacious homestead built early in the 20th century.
The town also boasts water gardens, a gallery and museum. The Mt Rouse lookout presents sweeping views of the Western District.
Penshurst has a hospital, two primary schools, a computer centre, community hall, a senior citizens centre, hotel, restaurant, caravan park and variety of rural and domestic trades and services. Penshurst is known for its Easter and Boxing Day horse races an annual rodeo and campdraft, a country-and-western weekend in February and the agricultural show on the first Saturday in December.