Your Guide for Fabulous Food and Wine Holiday Feasting
For lovers of fine food and wine, Castlemaine and the Central Victoria region are a delight. There are a dozen or so excellent boutique wineries within a 30-minute drive of town, several noted breweries and cideries, a busy farmers' market happening somewhere most weekends, numerous outlets offering gourmet produce, often locally sourced and handcrafted and, of course, a huge array of cafes, country pubs and fine dining restaurants. If your idea of a holiday involves exploring and enjoying fresh organic produce and innovative, creative dining options accompanied by a glass or two of something special, then Castlemaine is the ideal base for you.
The hospitality scene in and around Castlemaine is busy, vibrant and often changing. A few cafes offer dinner options on the weekend, some wineries offer tasting plates, and several cafes and produce stores will provide picnic hampers. We encourage guests to plan ahead, checking who is offering what and when, and making reservations as required by venues to avoid disappointment.
If you're staying with us, you'll receive on booking a detailed list of current food and wine destinations and suggestions to enhance your holiday experience. In the meantime, to help get you started, we've listed a few of our favourites below:
Well, where to start! If you're after a hearty country breakfast, elegant brunch or delicious lunch featuring local produce you'll be spoilt for choice. In Castlemaine itself we always enjoy a visit to Saffs Cafe, Run Rabbit Run, Moxie Café, Togs Cafe, Fig, Origini Cafe, The Blackbird and Saint Florian. All are located in the main town centre area and all offer good food, good coffee and a good atmosphere. For something special very close to BIG4 Castlemaine there's the spectacular Viennese-themed Das Kaffeehaus across the road at
The Mill complex.
If you're out and about exploring, you'll find friendly cafes in nearby towns: The Harcourt Produce and General Store and Newstead’s Dig Café are popular, and Maldon’s Main Street offers a choice of traditional cafes as well as the French Café Le Sel.
What's a trip to the country without a hearty pub meal, preferably in front of an open fire in winter or in a beer garden in summer? Once again, you'll be spoilt for choice. Just across the road from BIG4 Castlemaine is the family-friendly Bridge Hotel, with a spacious beer garden and upmarket pub food featuring local produce which can often be enjoyed against a backdrop of live music. A few blocks closer to town there's the Railway Hotel, much loved by locals and serving up traditional seasonal pub fare plus a daily curry special. A few minutes' drive from Castlemaine you'll find the Five Flags Hotel at Campbells Creek, open seven days a week. The Kangaroo Hotel in Maldon, open in various incarnations for over 150 years, is also popular as is the delightful Guildford Family Hotel.
Not a pub and a bit more (or much more) than a cafe: here are some further suggestions for lunch and dinner. In Castlemaine, head to Taste of the Orient for highly rated yum cha and noodle dishes or the popular New China Restaurant on Barker Street. For a family pizza night enjoy wood-fired pizzas from Bella Fresca Pizza or order takeaway to bring back to the park. For a quick bite Castlemaine's iconic Theatre Royal serves pizza – walk-ins only. Next door is Love Shack Brewing serving great beers and delicious burgers and snacks. Across the road from BIG4 Castlemaine, there's Shedshaker Brewing and the Taproom at The Mill, serving great craft beers, freshly made pizza and locally procured cheeses and share plates. The Royal Sultan Restaurant and Tandoori Cuizine, both in town, serve up Indian food and offer take-away.
For something special book in for a Friday evening or Saturday lunch feast of shared seasonal plates at Boomtown Social Club Kitchen at The Mill.
Wild restaurant, located in an historic fire hall in Castlemaine, serves excellent wines and dishes based on the best seasonal offerings from the region's farmers and producers. Bar Midland, in Castlemaine's historic Midland Hotel, is an intimate bar and dining space that celebrates and showcases the best indigenous foods from organic and biodynamic regional producers. It was awarded one Chef Hat in the 2023 Age Good Food Guide. Bookings for both are essential and should be made well in advance. Bar Midland also offers a walk-in Supper Club on Friday evening and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon, with small plates and an excellent cocktail and wine list.
In Maldon the new ‘Table et Terroir’ is winning acclaim for its sumptuous French-themed menu and Kyneton and Bendigo, both within 40 minutes' drive of Castlemaine, also offer a number of fine dining destinations. The lovely Chauncy Restaurant in Heathcote, awarded Two Hats in the current Age Good Food Guide, is also an easy and picturesque drive away.
Castlemaine's Farmers' Market is held on the first Sunday of the month in the town’s Western Reserve on Forest Street, opposite the main IGA supermarket. car park behind the historic Market Building and Visitor Information Centre in the heart of town. On the fourth Sunday of every month at the same location you'll also find a large and popular Artists' Market featuring some of the best art, crafts and design talent in the region. There's also a smaller weekly Farmers' Market every Wednesday afternoon at Camp Reserve, Forest Street, near the Railway Station. On Saturday mornings locals head to the Wesley Hill Community Market at Chewton for fruit and veg, breads, coffee, plants, an eclectic range of bric-a-brac and plenty of friendly chats.
Maldon holds its monthly Farmers' Market on the second Sunday of the month at Church Street in town. On the third Sunday of the month, it can be well worth heading to the small town of Talbot, a 40-minute picturesque drive from Castlemaine, to visit the Talbot Farmers' Market. There's also the Bendigo Farmers' Market on the second Saturday of the month at Dai Gum San, The Victorian Farmers Market Association website has great information about the monthly accredited farmers markets happening around the state each month - you can be sure there'll be a market happening somewhere in the Central Victorian region every weekend!
Whether you just want a bottle of something special to enjoy over a dinner back at BIG4 Castlemaine or you want to add some serious reds to your collection, exploring the wineries around Castlemaine is a delight. And there are certainly plenty to choose from! Some of our favourites include Harcourt Valley Vineyards, the oldest vineyard in the area with a five-star rating from James Halliday, Blackjack Vineyards, famous for some delicious reds, Sutton Grange Winery, Mt Alexander Winery, Limestone Track Vineyard, Guildford Vineyard, Bress Winery, Welshmans Reef Vineyard and Chappel's Cairn Curran Estate. It is worth checking hours for cellar door openings and tastings before heading out, as these details can change.
If you want to stay close to town, Boomtown Wines, a winemaking space at The Mill Complex across the road from BIG4 Castlemaine, has excellent wines available for tasting and on sale and is open Friday evenings and through the weekend.
Beers and Ciders
Enjoy seriously good small-batch handcrafted beers and ales at Shedshaker at The Mill Complex, or bring some back to the park to enjoy over a meal. Also look out for beers from locally-based Love Shack Brewing, available at Theatre Royal and a rapidly growing number of venues and bottle shops.
The Castlemaine area is also known for its premium ciders, due to the exceptional apples and pears that have been grown at Harcourt for more than 150 years. Visit Harcourt Perry and Cider Makers and Henry of Harcourt and treat yourself to some special beverages.
Local Produce: Eat In or Picnic!
There is so much good food to choose from and try! You can plan a romantic dinner for two, create a picnic to remember or cook up a storm for friends and family, all with gourmet produce purchased within a few minutes' walk from BIG4 Castlemaine. At the Mill Complex across the road you'll find outstanding hams, sausages, terrines, bacon, meats and smoked salmon and trout at Oakwood Smallgoods; Sprout Bakery sells artisan sourdough breads, magnificent sandwiches and often a special sweet treat or two; organic cow's milk cheeses and dairy products are available at Long Paddock; fruit, and veg can be picked up at Harvest Thursday afternoons to Saturday; there are handmade chocolates for dessert from Cabosse and Feve; and locally roasted coffee from Das Kaffeehaus, along with European pastries and sweets. Now that's a few meals sorted! Mulberry’s Delicatessen, next door to Tog’s Café, sells great cheers, pickles, cold cuts and more.