Finding Gold in Wangaratta

Gold Panning

Finding Gold in Wangaratta 

Words and images by Sian Brain - We Are Explorers.     


The Dirrawarra / Wangaratta region is dripping in adventure gold, and if you spend a bit of time in Eldorado, you could be too! Gold panning by Reedy Creek is an above ideal way to spend an afternoon. Followed by a bev at VIC’s smallest tavern of course! 

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru Nation, the traditional Countries of the Yorta Yorta, Taungurung, Bpangerang, Waywurru people who have occupied and cared for these lands for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded. 


A Wealth of History 

Wangaratta is a region with a rich history, literally! 

It’s one of those towns where you think to yourself, ‘Did I just accidentally punch ‘1860’ into the dash of the DeLorean? Is that Ned Kelly I see up the street?’ Ned Kelly really does hang out on the main street of Glenrowan. A six metre tall statue of him, but him nevertheless.  

Many of the locals have a history here that goes back to the gold rush, and everyone knows someone who knew Ned.  

It’s an authentic country town, but if you’re picturing Wangaratta stuck in a bygone era then think again! The region is beautiful, with wineries and breweries galore, quaint towns, cheese shops, wild swimming spots, rail trails, I could go on.  

While we stuck around for the fresh cruffins (a croissant muffin hybrid you need in your life), the bushrangers and outlaws stuck around for another reason – the gold baby! 

McEvoy Tavern

Where to Find the Nuggs 

There’s a town in the Rural City of Wangaratta called Eldorado. While explorers were searching for the city of treasure in South America in the 16th century, turns out it was here in Victoria all along! Go figure. 

The richest creek in Australia runs through this area. Funnily enough, this gold rush town wasn’t named after its mining fortunes. A drover named William Baker named his property near Chiltern ‘El Dorado’ as the wealth of the land provided everything he and his cattle needed for a rich life.  

Poor William was so close yet so far. I bet his cows were pooping golden nuggs and he had no idea. Today you’re almost guaranteed to find fab rocks along the bank of Jareelyallock / Reedy Creek. 

So of course we had to give it a go ourselves. We had great ambitions of finding a giant golden nugget. Spoilers, we did not. We did however find a nice stretch of creek to spend an afternoon by, panning, getting excited about fool’s gold and soaking in the history of the town.   

Afterwards make sure you head to the McEvoy Tavern, the smallest pub in Victoria, for a drink, that’s where the real gold’s at!   


Miner’s Permit 

First things first, to go gold panning you need to purchase a Victorian miner’s right. You can get these online

For $26 you’re licensed to fossick for 10 years in Victoria and keep what you find while prospecting. In Victoria, all minerals belong to the Crown, even on private land. 

What to Look For 

It’s not just gold out there! 

  • Smoky quartz 

  • Agates 

  • Amethysts 

  • Topaz 

  • Citrine 

  • Rock Crystal 

  • Motion 

  • Jasper 

  • Corundum 

  • Lydionite 

  • Quartzites 

  • Sapphires 

  • Zircon 

  • Rubies 

  • Tourmaline 

  • Garnets 

  • Diamonds 

  • Alluvial Gold 

  • Petrified Wood 

Essential Gear 

  • Trowel 

  • Gold pans 

  • Miner’s permit 

  • Shoes you’re not afraid to get wet 

  • Beers! 

  • Mates 

You can buy all your gold panning gear in Wangaratta 

McEvoy Tavern Beer Garden

How To Get There 

Head to the Jareelyallock / Reedy Creek in Eldorado. Along Woolshed Road there are a few areas where public roads coast alongside the creek. Find somewhere on the road to park with easy access to the creek and you’re ready to rock and roll.  

Alternatively, the swing bridge in Eldorado or Kangaroo Crossing in Chiltern National Park are other popular spots. 

Skill Level 


It doesn’t take an expert to look for gold – finding it is a different pile of bullions! 


Photos by @henry_brydon and @thetantrap