Clunes, International Booktown

The first accredited Booktown in the Southern Hemisphere and Victoria’s first gold town.

Clunes is located 36 km north of Ballarat (30 minutes by car), and 142 km north-west of Melbourne (90 minutes by car).

In April 2012 Clunes gained International Organisation of Booktowns membership, becoming the 15th International Booktown and the only booktown in Australia.

There are eight bookshops in Clunes, several cafes, a bakery, confectionary, photographer, gift and antique shops, and a fine arts gallery. There is a gourmet greengrocer, butcher, delicatessen, provedore, restaurant and wine shop. The service station and the local supermarket are open 7 days a week and an ATM is available in the main street. The hotel serves evening meals Wednesday to Sunday.

It is a vibrant town of approximately 2,200 people who collaborate to achieve the best of small town living. There are a number of active social and sporting groups and many facilities including a swimming pool, ovals, petanque piste, netball/basketball courts, tennis courts as well as a golf course.

Education is an important aspect of Clunes’ development with a primary school, regional campus of Wesley College and an adult learning centre at the Clunes Neighbourhood House and a public library.

There is a strong connection with our rural community celebrated in the major annual Clunes and District Agricultural Show which has been running for over 150 years. The Show occurs on the third Saturday of November.
The town is located in an expanding and award-winning wine growing area. There are three wineries in close proximity to the town.

The picturesque main street of Clunes has been the location of several films and TV series including Mad Max (1979) and Ned Kelly (2003), Tomorrow When the War Began (2015) and an episode of HBO’s The Leftovers (2016)

History of Booktown

In 2007 the first Booktown (Booktown for a Day) was held attracting over 6,000 visitors. Since then a two day festival, Clunes Booktown Festival, has been held annually in May. Over 60 booktraders from around Australia bring stock to the village and set up shop for the weekend. Street entertainment, food and wine, music and writer’s talks add to the festivities.

Current Situation

Over the years more and more booktraders and related businesses have moved to Clunes which now boasts 8 permanent bookshops, 2 on-line book traders and additional businesses with books in their stock mix.

Clunes has a population of about 2,200 and for its size it has a high proportion of writers, artists, potters and potter’s studios. Published writers who currently live in Clunes include Pam Adams, Dr Tess Brady, Andrew Masterson, Christine Rowe, Peter Murch and Andrew Reeves.