The Easter holidays are behind us and another new school term is beginning. Here at the park things are a little quieter after weeks of happy holiday fun. It was so wonderful to see the park full again, to welcome guests from near and far, to hear the laughter of the children and the clink of glasses being raised on a golden autumn evening.
And while our guests come and go, the special beauty of autumn in Castlemaine remains. The colours of the changing leaves across the town are magnificent, the walking tracks and picnic spots are peaceful and enticing, there’s great live music happening at our pubs and bars, and the local autumn produce is demanding serious attention - think mushrooms and cheeses, the famous Harcourt Valley apples, outstanding local ciders, wines and craft beers. In short, it’s the perfect time to come and stay. Enjoy the brisk air and kaleidoscope of colours and put your feet up by the campfire at the end of the day and just enjoy the holiday memories you’re making.
Here are just a few of the things to see and do in these last few weeks of autumn.
The markets in Castlemaine and around the region are the very best places to browse and sample the extraordinary range of Central Victoria’s produce and gourmet delights. With as much abundance as you could possibly imagine, you’ll return to the park laden with everything needed for inspire holiday cooking. The Castlemaine Farmers’ Market is on the first Sunday of the month, followed by the Bendigo market on the second Saturday of the month, Maldon on the second Sunday and the Malmsbury and the famous Talbot market on the third Sunday. Castlemaine and Bendigo also have smaller weekly markets offering local seasonal produce. Check the Victorian Farmers’ Markets website or just ask our team for more detail,
The cooler days are perfect cycling weather. Bring your own bikes or hire what you need at Castlemaine’s Bike Vault and head off to explore the quiet and scenic back roads of Castlemaine and nearby Harcourt or try the easy and level 17.7-kilometre walking and cycling Castlemaine and Maldon Trail. For the serious mountain biker, Leanganook Track offers exciting off-road adventure and La Larr Ba Gauwa at Harcourt provides world-class mountain bike trails
This huge, extraordinary foodie and artisan precinct situated in a re-purposed 1870s woollen mill is just a stroll across the road from BIG4 Castlemaine. The Mill is your go-to for amazing meals, coffees, wines, beers and gourmet treats with vintage shopping, arts and crafts thrown in for good measure. Everything you want for holiday feasting is right here: fruit and veg, handcrafted sausages, smoked salmon, hams, and terrines, organic fresh cheese and dairy products, coffee, artisan breads, chocolates and ice cream. Just yum!
Treat yourself to an afternoon at Castlemaine’s Buda House, a Museums Australia accredited goldfields villa house and gardens. Purchased in 1863 by successful Hungarian-born businessman Ernest Leviny, the villa was home to the Leviny family until 1981 and houses the family’s significant collection of furniture, artworks and personal belongings. The 1.2 hectares of gardens feature original plantings, a bird aviary, tennis pavilion and garden ornaments and there’s a lovely giftshop where you’ll find that special locally-crafted holiday souvenir.
The magnificent and historic 23-hectare Castlemaine Botanical Gardens and Bushland Reserve is right next door to us. Enjoy walking and cycling, admire the lake, the birdlife, the garden beds with colourful autumn plantings and, of course, the autumn leaves! The lovely Malmsbury Botanic Gardens, established in the 1850s, are also well worth a visit.
Head to this historic town just 15 minutes from Castlemaine and explore the gorgeous heritage streetscapes. There are great cafes and pubs for a cosy lunch and plenty of good shopping to be done.
This is an ideal starting point for exploring the history of Castlemaine's vast Central Goldfields. A 400-metre track circles around an historic alluvial goldfield and detailed signboards along the way provide fascinating facts and information about the ancient Forest Creek River bed, the gold rush of the 1850's and 1860's, and the remnants and relics of the structures and equipment left behind. Further information is available on the Parks Victoria website (look for Castlemaine-diggings-national-heritage-park).
Book a memorable journey on the Victorian Goldfields Railway, the authentic steam heritage train linking Castlemaine and Maldon. The train operates on Wednesdays and Saturday and bookings are essential. Keep an eye on special fun events that are often scheduled on Saturdays throughout the year. They include the popular Ales and Rails and Murder on Orient Express movie night (And remember, BIG4 Perks members enjoy discounted tickets). www.vgr.com.au has all the details.
This gallery and museum on Lyttleton Street in the heart of Castlemaine is well worth a visit for an hour or two to have a look at the range of art and artefacts reflecting the history and social life of Castlemaine and the surrounding region Exhibition details and opening hours are available on the castlemaineartmuseum.org.au website.
There's a lot more to see and do – Castlemaine cafes to enjoy, wineries to visit, boutiques to browse and nearby towns to explore! So come and enjoy the autumn magic on offer in Castlemaine. We're looking forward to welcoming you soon.