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COLERAINE

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The fruits of up to 200 years of passion can be seen in many areas in the town of Coleraine ... and we're not just talking about the locals.

A chocolate factory, the ultimate native garden and vintage cars are just a few of the intriguing prospects that await you in Coleraine.

Today's town is the legacy of generations of passionate individuals who were extraordinarily driven in their field of expertise.

The Coleraine district has a very impressive history and was first officially documented by Europeans when explorer Major Thomas Mitchell passed through in the early 1800's. He dubbed the rolling hills and natural grasslands of the district ''Australia Felix;'' - fortunate land.

Colonial artists such as Louis Buvelot and Thomas Clark were particularly inspired by the area. Their works can be seen at the Hamilton Art Gallery.

Coleraine's generous main street reminds many of the typical Australian country town but it doesn't take long to work out this little town is far from average.

There is history around every corner in Coleraine, an amazing journey for those willing to take the time to learn of the fascinating past of this town.

Adam Lindsay Gordon, one of Australia's most celebrated poets from the pioneer age enjoyed the Great Western Steeplechase at the local racecourse and included it in his poetry. Race meetings are just as much fun these days. Why not find out for yourself during the ''Blokes Oaks'' which is run in September the Sunday after the AFL Grand Final.

Whilst most people with a pulse will love the chocolate factory, the Peter Francis Points Arboretum is another of Coleraine's attractions.

40 years ago the 30 hectare site was a tip with just two trees on it, but now it is home to over 500 species of the eucalypt genus thanks to the lifetime work of Peter Francis and the community. It is Australia's official Eucalypt Collection and an essential visit for anyone visiting Coleraine with even the smallest interest in plants.

Although a botanist's paradise, you certainly do not have to be a specialist to appreciate The Points. With plants flowering throughout the year the area is a festival of colour. A short stroll through this free feature will lift your soul.

With a settled history dating back almost 200 years, Coleraine is one of the oldest country towns in Victoria. In fact the local cricket club claims to be the second oldest continuous playing cricket club in the world after the Marylebone Club in London.

The town has been home to many famous Australians, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and global cosmetics queen Helena Rubinstein.

Other famous names that now reside in Coleraine include Chevrolet and Porsche, with classic versions of many well restored vintage cars and masses of memorabilia at Coleraine Classic Cars.

The garage will fill you with yesteryear, the decade is distinctly the 1940's but the cars date back to the 1920's, with Holden's dating up to the 1970's, taking pride of place. Open by appointment Ph. 03 5575 2132

At the other end of the main street you will find the Glenelg Chocolates. The aroma as you walk in is an experience one can only normally dream of. The range of chocolates is extraordinary, well it is a chocolate factory and we don't need to say much more to get you there.

Within easy driving distance you will find Wannon and Nigretta Falls. Both can be seen in their full glory from well positioned viewing platforms, that are accessable for wheelchairs.

For Information on all Coleraine has to offer, call into the Historic Railway Station, now operating as the Tourist Information Centre.


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