First starting off as a retired soldier’s farm and then becoming a prosperous gold mining town, Majors Creek has gone through many changes over the years. Today, the idyllic village is a thriving community with a big heart, nestled at the top of Araluen Valley, a stone’s throw from the historic town of Braidwood. The heart and soul of the village shines through at the annual Majors Creek Festival, which is one of the highlights of the year, drawing crowds from far and wide to the unassuming yet charming village.
On the hunt for gold
Much like the surrounding villages, Majors Creek also became known in 1851 when alluvial gold was discovered in the area. Prior to the gold rush, from 1827 until 1845, the area was occupied by Major William Sandys Elrington, a professional soldier, who was granted 2,650 acres of the land, which he named Mount Elrington. Major Elrington sold his property by 1845 and returned to his homeland of England but the town was renamed after him, carrying the name Major’s Creek since then.
During the gold rush, there were an estimated 2,000 miners in the district, each averaging an ounce of gold per person per day. Slowly, the village started growing with a police outpost established in 1851 and the Elrington Hotel opened for business in 1856. However, around that same year, alluvial gold ran out and the town’s population decreased to just 200 people within the 10 years that followed.
The second wave of mining started in 1869 when gold was found in the area and lasted until about 1914. In the years that followed, the village boasted a post office, chemist, 24 shops and 4 hotels. Majors Creek also opened its first government school in 1880, which closed in 1969. One of the few reminders of the village’s past is St Stephen’s Anglican Church, which still stands tall today.
Activities for all
One of the best times to visit the village is in the spring when it fills with spectators coming in to experience the unique Majors Creek Festival. The annual three-day folk and roots music festival takes place in November each year, showcasing an incredible program of dance displays, classes, instrument workshops, sessions, bush dances and five stages of quality folk and roots music. There’s even a full kids’ program as well as market stalls and plenty of delicious food and drinks on offer.
If you’re travelling from afar, the festival grounds offer free camping and Braidwood’s accommodation providers are just a quick 15-minute drive away. Situated within only an hour’s drive from Canberra, Goulburn and Bateman’s Bay, it’s a popular weekend getaway destination for families and fans of music, dance and other art forms.
If you’re looking to see more of the surrounding region, try taking a trip to the Majors Creek Falls. If you ask about the falls at the local pub, you may be lucky enough to get an escort there, or at least tips on when and how to get there. The 10-metre cascade of falls can be found in the Majors Creek State Conservation Area and accessed from Wilson Street. The area is not signposted, and the track is rather rough, so keep a careful eye out on the right access point. Follow the creek downstream to see the top cascades.
Please note that under no circumstances should you try to climb on any of the rocks or get too close to the edge as the rocks can move and are extremely slippery. Avoid coming to the area if there’s a chance of rain or if the creek runs high.
If you’d rather go for a drive than a walk, then check out Clarke’s Lookout on the Majors Creek Mountain Road. It is situated on a spectacular yet steep and narrow dirt road which winds south down the hill into Araluen Valley. It is a breathtaking view from the lookout and well worth a stop when exploring the region. Please keep in mind that the road may at times be closed for safety due to heavy rain, so you should always check the conditions before setting out for your trip.
- For the easiest access, take the 17-minute drive from Braidwood along Majors Creek Road.
- For a more adventurous drive, head to Araluen and take the 14km dirt track up towards Majors Creek. This route goes past the gorgeous Clarke’s Lookout, overlooking Araluen Valley. Please take note, though, that this route is a very steep and narrow ascend of winding dirt road.
- The historic Elrington Hotel is not only a great place to grab a bite to eat or have a drink after a long day of exploring – but it also features many photos from yesteryear adorning the walls of the hotel for those interested in taking a peek at some good old times.
- Pay a visit to the iconic St Stephen’s Anglican Church for a step back in time. The beautiful church was built of hand cut local stone in the early 1870 by Peter Rusconi.
- Don’t forget to bring a gold pan with you as alluvial gold can still be found in the creek that runs near to town.
- Take some time to relax in the great outdoors by exploring the nearby Majors Creek Falls and Clarke’s Lookout.
- Plan your visit to coincide with the Majors Creek Festival to get a real feel for the community spirit of the village .
- If you’re interested in spending the night under the starry sky, head to the Recreational Ground across the road from the Elrington Hotel, where you can camp for free. Pets are also welcomed to stay at the grounds.
As always, don’t forget – if you’re out exploring Majors Creek, or any other hidden gems of Queanbeyan-Palerang, share your experience by tagging us with @visitqueanbeyanpalerang and #visitqueanbeyanpalerang.