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Castlemaine, VIC – Accommodation, To Do & More

11/06/2024
8 mins read
Theatre Royal Castlemaine
Source: Visit Victoria

Castlemaine, a historic town in Victoria, Australia, offers a rich blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Perfect for those seeking a mix of adventure, relaxation, and history, Castlemaine is a must-visit destination.

Overview

Castlemaine, VIC, is a charming town that beautifully blends its gold rush heritage with modern-day attractions.

  • Origin of Name: Castlemaine was named in 1851 in honour of William Lygon, the 7th Earl Beauchamp, who held the title of Viscount Castlemaine. The name reflects the town’s ties to British nobility.
  • Known For: Renowned for its rich history and well-preserved Victorian architecture, Castlemaine is a key location in Australia’s gold rush era. read more
  • Tourist Friendly: Yes, Castlemaine offers a wide range of activities for tourists, from exploring historic sites and museums to enjoying local festivals and the natural beauty of nearby parks. read more
  • Where: Located in central Victoria, about 120 km northwest of Melbourne. Nearby towns include Bendigo, Maldon, and Daylesford. read more

Accommodation

Things To Do

Theatre Royal Castlemaine

For a slice of history and a night of entertainment, the Theatre Royal Castlemaine has got you covered. As Australia’s oldest continually operating theatre, it’s a grand old dame with a flair for the dramatic. From live music to indie films, it’s the cultural heartbeat of the town. Plus, the bar serves some of the best cocktails around – perfect for sipping while you soak up the atmosphere.

Step inside, and you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time, but with all the modern amenities. The eclectic lineup of events ensures there’s always something interesting going on, whether it’s a local band’s debut or an international film screening. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to add a bit of pizzazz to their Castlemaine visit.

The Mill Castlemaine

If you ever wanted to find a place that has it all, The Mill Castlemaine might just be it. Housed in a reimagined 1870s woollen mill, it’s a treasure trove of local crafts, foods, and brews. From artisanal cheese to vintage clothes, this place has got you covered. It’s like a hipster’s dream come true but with something for everyone.

Strolling through The Mill, you’ll stumble upon Shedshaker Brewery, Boom Town Winery, and even the Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar. It’s the kind of place where you can start your morning with a gourmet coffee, have a cheeky beer tasting by midday, and leave with a trunk full of quirky finds and local produce. It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.

Glamping at Big 4 Castlemaine

Imagine camping under the stars without the hassle of setting up a tent or dealing with the unpredictability of nature. Welcome to glamping at Big 4 Castlemaine! This isn’t your typical camping experience – think cozy beds, chic decor, and all the comforts of home, but smack dab in the middle of a beautiful natural setting. Whether you’re looking to impress a date or just don’t feel like roughing it, glamping here will make you feel like you’re living the high life in the wild.

Expect to find luxurious safari tents complete with en suite bathrooms, heating, and cooling. Yes, you read that right – heating and cooling in a tent. Spend your days exploring the great outdoors and your nights sipping wine by the campfire without a single complaint about lumpy sleeping bags. It’s camping for the modern age.

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

Need a break from the hustle and bustle? The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens are the perfect escape. Established in the 1860s, these gardens are a verdant oasis of peace and tranquility. Take a leisurely stroll among the century-old trees, enjoy a picnic by the lake, or simply relax and watch the world go by. It’s like a little slice of paradise right in the heart of Castlemaine.

The gardens feature an impressive array of plants and trees, providing a beautiful backdrop for some much-needed R&R. Whether you’re a budding botanist or just love a good walk in the park, the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens offer a serene retreat where you can recharge your batteries.

Mount Alexander Regional Park

If you’re after some killer views and a bit of fresh air, Mount Alexander Regional Park is your go-to. Perched 350 meters above sea level, this park offers sweeping vistas over the surrounding countryside. Whether you’re into hiking, picnicking, or just pretending you’re in a nature documentary, this park delivers.

Bring your camera because you’ll want to capture the panoramic views from Dog Rocks and Lang’s Lookout. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a black wallaby or a koala. It’s the perfect spot for a day out with mates or a peaceful solo adventure.

Castlemaine State Festival

When it comes to arts and culture, the Castlemaine State Festival is the crown jewel of the region. Held biennially, this festival transforms the town into a vibrant hub of creativity, with performances, exhibitions, and events that showcase both local and international talent. It’s like a big, arty party that everyone’s invited to.

The festival spans ten days and includes everything from theatre and dance to visual arts and music. Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking for a fun night out, the Castlemaine State Festival offers something for everyone. Be sure to check the schedule and catch as many events as you can.

Red Hill Hotel (Castlemaine/Chewton)

If you’re after a taste of local history with your pint, the Red Hill Hotel in Castlemaine/Chewton is the place to be. This iconic pub has been serving locals and travelers since 1854 and offers a cozy spot to enjoy a hearty meal and a cold drink. The Red Hill Hotel is known for its friendly atmosphere and classic pub fare, making it a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.

The hotel frequently hosts live music and community events, adding to its charm. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a great place to relax, the Red Hill Hotel is a must-visit.

Forest Creek Historic Gold Diggings

Step back in time at the Forest Creek Historic Gold Diggings, where you can explore the remnants of the gold rush era that put Castlemaine on the map. This outdoor museum offers a fascinating look at the tools and techniques used by the miners who flocked to the area in search of fortune. Wander among the old diggings and imagine the lives of those who once toiled here.

Pack a picnic and take your time exploring this significant historical site. It’s a great spot for history enthusiasts and families alike, offering a unique glimpse into the past.

Nearby Towns

Bendigo, VIC:

  • Distance from Castlemaine: 38 km north
  • Highlights: Known for its rich gold rush history, Bendigo offers an array of cultural experiences, including the Bendigo Art Gallery and the Golden Dragon Museum. The town also boasts beautiful Victorian architecture.
  • Notable Sites: Bendigo Art Gallery, Central Deborah Gold Mine, and the Bendigo Botanic Gardens.

Maldon, VIC:

  • Distance from Castlemaine: 16 km west
  • Highlights: A well-preserved historic town, Maldon is renowned for its antique shops and annual folk festival. The town offers a glimpse into Australia’s gold rush era with its historic buildings and charming streets.
  • Notable Sites: Maldon Vintage Machinery Museum, Beehive Mine Chimney, and the Maldon Folk Festival.

Daylesford, VIC:

  • Distance from Castlemaine: 40 km southwest
  • Highlights: Famous for its natural mineral springs and spa retreats, Daylesford is a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. It also features a vibrant arts scene and gourmet dining.
  • Notable Sites: Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, and the Convent Gallery.

Kyneton, VIC:

  • Distance from Castlemaine: 36 km south
  • Highlights: Known for its vibrant food and wine scene, Kyneton is home to several acclaimed restaurants and wineries. The town also features beautiful gardens and historic buildings.
  • Notable Sites: Kyneton Botanic Gardens, Piper Street, and the Kyneton Museum.

Creswick, VIC:

  • Distance from Castlemaine: 47 km southwest
  • Highlights: A town with a rich forestry history, Creswick offers beautiful walking trails and the Creswick Woollen Mills. It’s also known for its historical significance and educational institutions.
  • Notable Sites: Creswick Museum, St Georges Lake, and Creswick Woollen Mills.

History

  • Pre-1851: The area around Castlemaine was originally inhabited by the Dja Dja Wurrung people, the Indigenous Australian inhabitants of the region.
  • 1851: Gold was discovered at Forest Creek, leading to one of the world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfields. The influx of prospectors turned the area into a bustling settlement almost overnight.
  • 1852: The settlement was officially named Castlemaine in honor of William Lygon, the 7th Earl Beauchamp, who held the title of Viscount Castlemaine. Lygon was the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time.
  • 1854: Castlemaine was officially declared a town. By this time, the population had swelled to accommodate the gold rush, leading to rapid infrastructure development.
  • 1856: The Castlemaine Post Office was opened, further establishing the town’s role as a regional center.
  • 1859: The railway line from Melbourne reached Castlemaine, enhancing its connectivity and boosting its growth as a trade and transport hub.
  • 1860s: The town continued to grow, with the establishment of various civic buildings, including the Courthouse and the Castlemaine Gaol.
  • Late 1800s: As the gold rush dwindled, Castlemaine transitioned into a more stable agricultural and manufacturing economy.
  • 1900s: The town maintained its significance in the region, with continued growth in local industries and services.
  • 1980s-Present: Castlemaine has seen a revival as a cultural and artistic hub, attracting artists, musicians, and tourists. The establishment of festivals and the preservation of its historical sites have made it a vibrant community.
  • 2020s: Castlemaine continues to thrive as a cultural destination, known for its rich history, artistic community, and scenic landscapes.

Information Centre

Castlemaine has a dedicated Visitor Information Centre located at the historic Market Building, 44 Mostyn Street, Castlemaine. For assistance and local information, you can contact them at (03) 5471 1795. The centre provides maps, brochures, and advice on attractions, accommodations, and events in the region.

Getting There

By Car

Castlemaine is located approximately 120 km northwest of Melbourne, making it a convenient drive from the city. The drive typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours via the Calder Freeway (M79). Follow these steps:

  1. Take the M2 from Melbourne CBD.
  2. Continue onto the Calder Freeway (M79) and follow signs for Bendigo.
  3. Take the Castlemaine exit (Pyrenees Hwy/C282) and follow the signs to Castlemaine.

By Train

Castlemaine is well-served by V/Line trains, which provide regular services from Melbourne. The train journey is approximately 1.5 hours. Here’s how to get there:

  1. Catch a V/Line train from Southern Cross Station in Melbourne.
  2. The Bendigo line trains stop at Castlemaine Railway Station.

You can check the V/Line website for the latest timetables and ticket prices: V/Line Timetables.

By Bus

There are also bus services connecting Castlemaine with surrounding towns and regions. The buses are operated by PTV (Public Transport Victoria). Here’s a typical route:

  1. From Bendigo, you can take the V/Line bus towards Castlemaine.
  2. Bus routes and schedules can be checked on the PTV website: PTV Journey Planner.
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