A small town 30km north-west along the Calder Highway from Melbourne, Diggers Rest began literally as an overnight resting spot for miners traveling to and from the Bendigo gold fields.
But Diggers Rest’s 10 minutes of fame came in 1910 when American escapologist and adventurer Harry Houdini came to town with his Voisin biplane at the invitation of the Aerial League of Australia.
At that time several people were claiming to have made Australia’s first powered flight, but the league was unconvinced and, on March 31, 1910, bestowed the distinction on Houdini after the American flew his bi-plane at a height of 30 metres round a 3km, circular course.
A plaque west of Diggers Rest commemorates the historic event, and Houdini Drive skirts one of the town’s largest reserve. The area round Diggers Rest boasts a number of thoroughbred and specialise horse breed studs.
The hamlet is just a sedate klick or two north-west of the Calder Raceway, one of Melbourne’s premier motor racing circuits.