Published on 24th May 2017
by Linsey Rendell

This regional gold-rush-era town is now a hub of produce makers, artists, markets, fine food and drink. Here's our guide to Castlemaine.

In mid-1851 one of the largest alluvial gold deposits in the world was discovered beneath the fertile soils of Dja Dja Wurrung country in Central Victoria. Soon 25,000 diggers were living in the area, and the town of Castlemaine swiftly transitioned from a valley of native bushland to a gold-rush tent city, and then Euro-grid town. Many of these 19th-century buildings are still standing today.

The surrounding fields, orchards and vineyards now brim with high quality produce, so many of the town’s cafes and restaurants champion local produce. Similarly, in the past six years the town has grown from harbouring just a handful of espresso machines to dozens.

Colloquially known as “Northcote North”, Castlemaine has lured and nurtured a slew of creatives over the years. They are drawn by the town’s supportive community of artists, musicians, designers and makers, and its leafy landscape. Vintage items and antiques have a stronghold too, and there are pastries and pastas to soak up the many locally made drinks.

Castlemaine is a 90-minute drive north-west of Melbourne up the Calder Freeway, and about the same if you take the V/Line from Southern Cross Station.

Welcome to Castlemaine

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Musicians, artists, makers and producers all gather under reinvigorated historic roofs in this creative community.

Itinerary

Winter Getaway in Castlemaine

Comforts abound in this hub of agricultural and creative talent. A winter-ready town, Castlemaine provides numerous opportunities to huddle up by a fireplace – with cake at a cafe, whisky at a bar or at your lodgings.

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10AM

Johnny Baker

359 Barker Street
Castlemaine VIC
(03) 5470 5695
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Johnny Baker

Roll out of bed and head over to this drive-through patisserie for breakfast. Don’t miss the almond croissant and pear tarte tatin.

11AM

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

2 Walker St
Castlemaine VIC
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Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

Walk around the corner to Walker Street and the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, where you can sit by the edge of Lake Johanna and tuck-in to your treats.

12PM

Bress Wine, Cider and Produce

3894 Harmony Way
Harcourt VIC
(03) 5474 2262
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Bress Wine, Cider and Produce

Drive the 10 minutes to Bress in Harcourt via picturesque Chewton and Golden Point. Taste wine and cider before saying hi to the chooks and strolling through the veggie patch.

1.30PM

The Governor's Cafe

36-48 Bowden Street
Castlemaine VIC
(03) 5472 3749
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The Governor’s Cafe

Take a late lunch up on the hill, where the food is seasonal (and delicious) and you can kick back with a local beer or wine on the patio, overlooking the leafy town below.

3PM

Boomtown Winery Co-op

The Mill 9 Walker Street
Castlemaine VIC
0417 237 155
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Drinks at The Mill

Mosey from Boomtown Winemaking Co-op, where these larrikin lads produce a top Central Victorian drop, to Das Kaffehaus for a warming mulled wine. See the offerings at Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar and Platform No. 5, then stop at The Taproom for a cleansing ale.

7PM

Theatre Royal

30 Hargraves Street
Castlemaine VIC
(03) 5472 1196
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Theatre Royal

Enjoy a meal within the historic walls of this 1854-built theatre before sinking a brew or two with the locals while catching a free gig.

10PM

Riversdale Retreat

Address supplied at time of booking
Chewton VIC
(03) 9510 6822
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Riversdale Retreat

Retire to your quiet country dwelling for the evening. Light a fire and crack a bottle of Boomtown Red to enjoy alongside the day’s takeaway treats.