There’s Plenty to See and Do!
You’ve decided Castlemaine is the perfect base for a brief winter getaway. And you’re right, of course: just 90 minutes by car or train from Melbourne, conveniently close to Bendigo and Daylesford, and with a wealth of history, great eating, shopping, live music and scenic parks and bushlands in and around Castlemaine itself, this charming town is the ideal holiday destination.
So, with an amazing must-do list of places to go and things to see, where do you start?
Here’s our very own self-guided itinerary covering some of our very favourite things to help you plan your trip.
Arriving at BIG4 Castlemaine
Of course, you’re staying at BIG4 Castlemaine! With the beautiful Castlemaine Botanical Gardens right next door and the exciting Mill Complex just across the road, you’re in the very heart of some of the best Castlemaine has to offer. When you booked you might have chosen to have a homemade lasagne waiting in the fridge for a hassle-free supper on arrival, so you have a lazy, cosy first evening ahead of you!
Day One: Food, History, Art, Vintage Shopping
Stop 1: A hearty breakfast!
Head over the road to the famous Mill Complex and indulge in a delicious breakfast at Das Kaffeehaus, a Viennese-styled coffee house (yes, that’s right – unmistakable European style in the heart of Castlemaine). Admire the chandelier and artistic touches as you indulge in a caffeine heart-starter made from coffee beans roasted on site.
Stop 2: Grab some supplies!
After breakfast, tour The Mill’s renowned food outlets. Choose from artisan sourdough breads, croissants and pastries, hand-crafted hams, sausages and other smallgoods, chocolates, local fruits and vegetables, handmade cheese and much more. Pick up some treats for a late afternoon snack or perhaps a light supper by the campfire
Stop 3: Into Town.
Walk or drive into Castlemaine’s main street. Head to the Visitor Information Centre, housed in an historic market building, where’s there is a selection of local souvenirs and often a local art exhibition happening, and pick up a brochure detailing the local historic walks. Head off for an hour so and take in the story of the old goldfields days and some of the noted architecture, and perhaps call in to a few of Castlemaine’s charming boutiques along the way!
Stop 4. Art and History.
It’s now late morning and the ideal time to drop into the Castlemaine Art Museum. There’s a noted Australian art collection, always an interesting exhibition or two, and an extensive and fascinating display of information and historic artefacts and photographs reflecting the early history of the region.
Stop 5. Lunchtime!
There’s cafes and friendly local pubs to choose from. Sit back and enjoy!
Stop 6. More History.
Head to the lovely Buda House, an authentic goldfields villa, and enjoy a tour through the house taking in how life might have been lived more than 120 years ago. Enjoy a wander in the three hectares of beautiful gardens featuring original plantings and garden ornaments.
Stop 7. Back to BIG4 Castlemaine via The Mill.
Stop off again at the Mill, this time to explore the Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar, home to dozens and dozens of stallholders offering a diverse and eclectic range of vintage wonders. Make your way through the treasure -trove shopping for things you never knew you needed.
Stop 8. Dinner Time.
After a brief rest back home at BIG4 Castlemaine, you’re heading off to dinner. Perhaps you booked ahead for one of the town’s restaurants, or you’re heading back across the road for some great handcrafted beers and pizza at the popular Tap Room at The Mill, along with some live music. Or stop in at the historic Bridge Hotel, for some classy pub food and, yes, more live music!
PS: Don’t forget to take a look up at the night sky! The moon is brighter. The stars are bigger! Welcome to the country sky!
Day Two: A Historic Town, Breathtaking Scenery
Stop 1: Breakfast Time Again.
This time you’re heading to one of the cafes you noticed yesterday, for another hearty country brekkie with great coffee.
Stop 2. Maldon.
Head 15 minutes down the road to the historic town of Maldon, designated Australia’s first Notable Town by the National Trust, in recognition of its carefully preserved 19th
century streetscapes. Take in the architecture, the lovely local gardens, great shops featuring local produce, galleries and more. Also explore the Maldon Historic Reserve around the town, where’ll find protected relics from the goldmine era including abandoned shafts, tunnels, stone walls and chimneys as well as local bush and trees. Enjoy a long lunch at one of the historic pubs, or country-style cafes. It’s definitely all Insta-worthy!
Stop 3. Stop and Enjoy the Views.
Drive to the top of nearby Mt Tarrengower before heading back to Castlemaine. Climb the lookout tower or simply enjoy the truly stunning panoramic views.
Stop 4. Time for a Winery.
There’s still plenty of time to visit a winery or two in the Maldon and Castlemaine area. They are all good – just check opening times before heading off – and you’ll be bound to find a bottle or two of excellent local red.
Stop 5. The Campfire at BIG4 Castlemaine.
What’s a winter holiday without a campfire? Hire your own firepit or come and sit by the park’s big communal campfire. Bring that bottle of red and some local cheese, and just sit back and relax. It’s the perfect way to while away an hour or two on a winter’s evening!
Day Three: Heading Home
It’s time to head home but make a special day of it by going through via Daylesford or Kyneton. That’s after another country breakfast and a long walk in Castlemaine’s 23-hectare Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest regional botanic gardens in Victoria. Originally laid out in the early 1860’s, enjoy the birdlife, the lovely lake, and spectacular trees.
An Extra Day
If you can, why not stay a little longer and spend a day in nearby Bendigo
just 40 minutes up the highway (Australia’s first UNESCO Creative City & Region of Gastronomy). There’s the famous Bendigo Art Gallery
to visit, trendy View Street
to explore, the beautiful Rosalind Park
to have a wander in, and a wealth of excellent restaurants to dine at. Heathcote
also offers a special day put. Just 40 minutes from Castlemaine, this happening town is known for its wineries, scenery, history and restaurants