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Stawell was founded on gold in 1853 when William McLachlan, a shepherd on Dr. John Blundell's station found gold there. Gold mining ceased in 1920 when the Union Quartz Mining Company closed. However in 1984 the Stawell Joint Venture re-opened the mines around Stawell and are part of Australian Goldmines. You can visit the mines and view the massive trucks and excavators.
The town is noted for the Stawell Easter Gift foot race, the richest event of its kind in the world. The first meeting was in 1877. At the Hall of Fame Museum you can see the photographs, memorabilia and equipment which highlight the history of this famous sports meeting.
Just south of Stawell is Bunjil's Shelter, one of Victoria's most important Koorie art sites.