Three highways converge at HAMILTON, a civilized little city where you can see the Grampians from the edge of the main street. Its main claim to fame is as the "Wool Capital of the World" – more accurately, it is responsible for about 15 percent of Australia's wool production. The only reason you're likely to be here is if you're passing through, though there are a few things to distract you and the friendly Hamilton Visitor Centre on Lonsdale Street (daily 9am–5pm; Tel:1800 807 056, Web: www.sthgrampians.vic.gov.au/tourism ) can book accommodation if you decide to stay.
The most worthwhile of the town's five museums and galleries is the Hamilton Art Gallery, on Brown Street (Mon– Fri 10am–5pm, Sat 10am– noon & 2–5pm, Sun 2–5pm; entry by donation; Web: www.hamiltongallery.org ), one of the finest provincial art galleries in the state. Its collection of eighteenth-century watercolours of English pastoral scenes by Paul Sandby is the largest outside Britain. Also in the town centre, but of marginal interest, is the Hamilton History Centre (2–5pm; closed Sat), located in the Mechanics Institute Building at 43 Gray St. East of town, on the Ballarat Road, is the Sir Reginald Ansett Transport Museum (daily 10am–4pm; $4), charting the history of the now-defunct Ansett flight network which began here, while The Big Woolbales (Mon– Fri 8am–4.30pm, Sat 8.30am–2.30pm & Sun 9.30am–2.30pm; Web: www.bigwoolbales.com.au ) on Coleraine Road contains a small exhibition telling you about the wool industry of the Western district and has a restaurant serving cheap meals such as schnitzels, burgers and focaccia, and a Sunday roast for $12 (daily breakfast & lunch).
Hamilton features a wide variety of accommodation. Budget travellers can stay at the simple yet central Commercial Hotel (Tel:03/5572 4119; Price: under $60) at 145 Thompson St, which has shared facilities, or the pleasantly located Lake Hamilton Caravan Park, 8 Ballarat Rd (Tel:03/5572 3855, Web: www.lakehamilton.com.au ; cabins Price: $76-100). On the same road at no. 142 is the luxurious Quality Inn Grange Burn (Tel:03/5572 5755, Web: www.thegrangeburn.com.au ; Price: $131-160), which is one of the better places to stay in town.
If you want a bite to eat, the Darriwill Farm Restaurant and Café at 169 Gray St is a town favourite and has an array of products you can buy and take with you, or you can stay and order a variety of gourmet options (breakfast and lunch Mon– Sat, dinner Thurs, Fri & Sat).