Glamping has quickly emerged as one of the most exciting trends in the leisure accommodation industry.
Yet at BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park in Victoria, glamping is more than an elegant alternative to basic camping. Rather, it feels like the perfect accompaniment for unearthing the beating pulse of this fascinating and relaxed boho town.
Castlemaine was made for glamping.
A history-filled town born from the riches of the gold rush, its enduring ornate streetscape reveals countless signs of its enthralling past.
These days, though, Castlemaine is better known for its creative, artistic types. And the vibe is quickly evident.
The town’s collection of hip cafés, trendy pubs, and boutique shops, combined with its leafy streets, would not be out of place in Melbourne’s or Sydney’s coolest suburbs.
In fact, the town has earned the label ‘Northcote North’ for its comparisons to the super-fashionable inner-Melbourne suburb.
And at a 90min drive from Victoria’s capital, it is ridiculously accessible. The ideal weekender.
In short, Castlemaine is big-city choice with small-town appeal: Creative, progressive, vibrant yet relaxed, and surrounded by glorious natural scenery.
Which brings us back to glamping.
Tucked away at the rear of BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens, three beige glamping bell tents poke out from their prime slot within this charming holiday park.
From the individual, generous-sized wooden decks of each tent, guests can look towards the expansive greenery within historical Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, which border the park.
While the tranquil setting is big on appeal, it’s the bell tents themselves that steal the spotlight.
With clear attention to detail, these tents were carefully created to reflect the wider ambience of the town, as BIG4 Castlemaine Gardens owner, Claire Height, explained.
“We wanted to wow guests with the luxury details: gorgeous rugs, beautiful throws and cushions, and loads of pillows on a super comfy queen bed,” she exclaimed.
“We also wanted to include the necessities for a luxury escape: bar fridge, fans and heating, complimentary toiletries, options for eats, and outdoor decks with furniture for guests to relax, admire the surrounds, and immerse themselves in nature.”
And then comes the various nods to Castlemaine’s cultural and natural assets.
“I styled each tent differently, inspired by Castlemaine and the beautiful natural setting around us, with a focus on quality furnishings and live indoor plants,” Claire, a Castlemaine local for 15-plus years, outlined.
“I decided to make each tent an individual experience for our guests with some quirky additions. One is what we call our ‘boho tent’, where we draw on the artistic, creative, and eclectic vibe of Castlemaine with the addition of a guitar, arty books, and vintage chic furnishings.
“Then we have our ‘jungle tent’, acknowledging all the wildlife that surrounds you. We‘ve included lots of animal prints and even a bongo drum.
“Lastly, we have our ‘safari-style tent’ with tribal furnishings, board games, and lanterns.”
It’s all about that buzz word, ‘experience’.
“Guests can escape the city on Friday night and 90min later unwind on their deck overlooking the gardens with a craft beer or champagne while grazing on a charcuterie platter and listening to the sounds of nature,” Claire said.
Weekend bliss. And it gets better.
For the young and the restless, an insight into Castlemaine culture is within the easiest of striking distance.
Only a 400m walk from the glamping tents is The Mill, a heritage precinct dominated by old-brick buildings and an imposing smokestack. Once home to the Castlemaine Woollen Mill, it’s been rebirthed as a foodie, produce, and arts hub.
Here, you’ll find a gorgeous café, coffee roaster, microbrewery, smallgoods store, winery, ice creamery, vintage bazaar, art spaces, and more. Typically, the emphasis is on locally produced goodies, and recycled wares.
Otherwise, take the short stroll to the Bridge Hotel for a setting, menu, and beverage selection that you’d expect to find at ‘cousin’ Northcote.
It’s Castlemaine summed up in a radius of less than 1km: historical yet modern; trendy and creative; enchanting and satisfying; chilled and laidback. It’s the chance to indulge, with no need for an Uber. Convenience with a capital C.
And what to do if all these Friday night spoils have caught up with you? Well, join the 5km Castlemaine parkrun in the neighbouring gardens the next day. This free event is held each Saturday from 8am.
Or perhaps another caffeine fix is calling…
If you’re looking for more of what to see and do in Castlemaine, we’ve put together these excellent options…
Aside from The Mill precinct, try the likes of Saffs, Fig, or North Kitchen for brunch or Johnny Baker’s for coffee and delicious pastries. Italian-themed Origini is among top picks for dinner (Friday nights only) or try Lola.
The Railway Hotel suits a beer or two (as well as being a highly rated gastro pub) or settle in at nearby Maurocco Bar for cocktails: this delightful venue is a throwback to a time gone by.
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens: Idyllic wandering with plenty of prime Insta-worthy ops.
Victorian Goldfields Railway: Runs steam trains between Castlemaine and Maldon on Sundays and Wednesdays. Or indulge with the Ales on Rails feature trains monthly from March to November (Saturdays). Alternatively, follow the dedicated cycling trail that’s parallel to the railway line.
Theatre Royal: A striking old structure that’s home to a cinema, bistro, and cosy wine bar and is a popular live music venue. Shedshaker Brewing and the Bridge Hotel are other popular live music venues.
Wesley Hill Market: Mix with the locals each Saturday morning. Grab fresh produce, and peruse stalls selling art and craft, recycled goods, and more. The coffee is excellent. Hot tip: try the chai.
Castlemaine Art Museum: Houses a fantastic and diverse collection within a grand art deco building.
Buda Historic Home and Garden: Provides an elegant throwback to the glory of Castlemaine’s gold-filled days.
The Restorers Barn: This quirky find is the ultimate definition of eclectic with the most varied assortment of trinkets, treasures, ornaments, odds and ends, and so much more.
Isn’t it time you had an indulgent escape? Book your next BIG4 break now.