Harrietville is the first town after the descent from Mount Hotham and Omeo on the Great Alpine Highway. Nice spot this and within easy reach to Bright a little further north. Harrietville is a town that is active, aware of heritage and the environment. The town is spread along the highway.
The town began as a gold mining settlement during the gold rush era, the Post Office opening on 5 July 1865. Alluvial gold was mined initially. Many of the early miners were Chinese. Later, the mining shifted to deep reefs accessed via shafts. A large dredge, known as the Tronoh Monster, also worked extracting alluvial gold from the Ovens River flats. The dredge extracted gravel and created the hole it floated in, dumping the tailings behind it. It made slow progress along the river flats, eventually stopping when rock reefs were contacted at the base of the surrounding mountains. Three large and deep lakes remain near Harrietville where dredging operations ceased.