21 kilometres northwest of Ballarat lies this small hamlet on the shores of
Lake Learmonth. It is an ideal setting for camping, fishing and
boating, Learmonth was settled by grazier Thomas Livingstone
Learmonth in August 1837 after explorer Major Mitchell had visited
the area up to a year earlier. Its early prominence was due to its
location providing the easiest access from Melbourne through a gap
in the Great Dividing Range to the grazing lands of the Avoca and
In the early 1860s Learmonth was a busy, prosperous town, with
four large blacksmithing establishments making farm implements at a
time when Ballarat smithies were too busy catering for the mines.
Learmonth also boasted six hotels and excellent stores, saddlers'
shops and bakeries. The Learmonth Heritage Walk introduces visitors
to the many historic buildings and monuments. For cyclists,
Learmonth is part of the two lakes sports ride. Free copies
of the Learmonth Heritage Walk brochure are available in Learmonth
from The Learmonth General Store and Post Office, The Stag Hotel
and Cafe 321.
The Stag Hotel
The Stag Hotel is closely associated with the early history of
Learmonth, being the second oldest hotel in the Ballarat district,
(the oldest being Craig's Royal Hotel). The Stag Hotel was
established in 1854, the first licence being granted to a Mr
Mackenzie, and the licence was held by a member of the Mackenzie
family continuously for 68 years.
The Learmonth branch of the National Bank opened for business on
November 19th 1866 with Mr. E E Crombie as its first manager. The
Shire of Ballarat shifted its business from the Bank of Victoria to
the Learmonth branch in 1868. The Learmonth National Bank was one
of the first two rural National Banks to be established, after the
agricultural population became more stable after the mining frenzy.
Bank managers were held in high regard in the community, as they
joined in community activities and promoted the welfare of the
A family friendly restaurant that uses local and regional
produce to create tempting country style dishes to enjoy either at
breakfast, lunch, morning or afternoon tea. Enjoy the ambience of
the cafe surrounded by volcanic hills and scenic views, an ideal
way to while away a day in any weather.
Children can run freely in the kitchen garden
where there are free-range chickens and the star attraction, a
house peahen named Clyde. Meanwhile adults can enjoy the freshly
ground coffee, delicious cakes, or an antipasto accompanied by a
glass of regional wine or the refreshing 321 Dry Cider.
In the colder weather, relax and keep warm by the wood stove and
when the day is fine, the outdoor area is ideal. 321's emphasis is
on using local and regional products. They source as much as they
can from nearby Ballarat and the local region. This, in turn, means
the menu changes according to the season giving visitors the
freshest possible dishes to select from.