Castlemaine oozes history!
Castlemaine is a historic gold mining town located in the state of Victoria about 120 km northwest from Melbourne. With a population of around 9100 it is the home of many cultural institutions including Theatre Royal which is the oldest running theater on mainland the Australia.
This bustling town is renowned for its eclectic arts scene, rich gold rush history, and growing reputation as a fine food destination.
Castlemaine began as a gold rush boomtown in 1851 and developed into a major regional centre. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1965.
To assist you travelling back in time there are regular train and bus services to from major tourist areas like Melbourne, Bendigo and the University town of Ballarat.
V Line operates train services from Melbourne on the Bendigo line and
Castlemaine Bus Lines run regulars services from Campbells Creek, Harcourt and Maldon.By car you can arrive from Melbourne, via the Midland Highway, in about an hour and a half.
This magnificent area literally oozes history.
Major Mitchell passed through the region in 1836 and following his discovery the first squatters arrived in 1837 establishing vast sheep runs.
In July 1851 gold was discovered near present day Castlemaine at Specimen Gully on Barkers Creek.
Initially the squatters propagated the notion this was ‘fools gold’ in an attempt to keep their workers from abandoning their sheep. However in August they did just that and the exodus began. By October there were about 8000 diggers working the alluvial beds of nearby creeks. By the end of the year there were 25,000 in the field.
Explore Castlemaine’s rich history and heritage with a self-guided tour of its grand public buildings, wide streets, ornate hotels and century-old shops. Try a spot of shopping along the way – from gourmet food and designer clothing to antiques and art. You’ll find a range of self-guided walks that take in the village and beyond.
Buda Historic Home & Garden the former residence of a silversmith was built way back in 1861. The house boasts of a significant collection of art pieces and the whole place is set within an area of beautiful gardens which spread across 2 hectares. There is also a nursery & gift shop.
Castlemaine Art Gallery & Museum opened in 1913 has an enviable collection of Australian art and historical items.
Great Dividing Trail. Castlemaine is actually located at the junction point of this walking trail – the 58 km track which ends in Bendigo & the 57 km Digging Track which traverses through to Hepburn Springs.
The Theatre Royal. This art house and cinema was built in 1854 and the premises include a restaurant and backstage accommodation.
Victorian Goldfields Railway – This is basically a tourist steam train that runs between Maldon & Castlemaine.
Wesley Hill Market. This is a unique experience as you will probably never encounter such a diverse market in your life. On hand are Thai takeaway food and all kinds of Chinese & Indian delicacies. You will also get locally grown organic foods and vegetables, award winning oils & preserves, pure fruit juices, jewelry and handicrafts. However, no dogs are allowed inside the market. It opens at 7:30 in the morning and operates till 1:00 in the afternoon.
Although the town is relatively small it does have a number of great accommodation options.
These include a 4 star hotel offering complimentary continental breakfast as well as all the modern amenities including TV, microwave and air-conditioning. Centrally located and close to the Burke and Wills Memorial lookout.
An award winning holiday park with views of the Botanic Gardens and Lake Joanna. Clean and comfortable cabins and facilities make this the perfect retreat for couples and families and pets.
If you are ready to stay at an off-beat place then you might consider Chinaman Creek House which is a self-contained holiday retreat. It is located around 7 – 8 km from Castlemaine and is fully solar powered. It can accommodate a maximum of 8. .
Foodies and and wine lovers won’t be disappointed. A number of talented chefs have made the move to the area, so book a table and try some of the region’s finest food coupled with exceptional local wines. Stock up on olive oil, cheeses, preserves and fresh regional produce at farm gates and specialty provedores across the region.
Whatever you do in Castlemaine you will be left with lasting memories of a bygone era.