Stepping out of the train with rays of afternoon sun shining on my face, I could not agree more for selecting a weekend stay at Castlemaine. The excitement is already on my face as I ran behind the departing train to capture a short video as if I could not miss out on such a joyous moment. There were six of us – an exciting all girl weekend getaway, much needed after months of lockdown. Escaping to countryside seems like an eternal joy.
I am not going to bore you with too much details, there is much to say and really can’t have a long blog! I know you have very little time. So here’s my travel in a nutshell.
Castlemaine, a small town 120km North-West of Melbourne is situated in the Gold country and has been a flourishing city during the gold rush. Today the town glistens in it’s undeniably beauty, not as much as it would have glittered back then!
It’s quirky character and friendly people are definitely an attraction to visitors. Tourism is one of it’s main sources of income. I wouldn’t want to even go there and imagine how dull it would have been during the hard lockdown that affected Victoria.
It seems to be all in the past as I see the town buzzing with joy and here we are ready to explore!
Getting to Castlemaine
There is undeniable joy in our faces (masks off) as we arrive into an uber quiet Castlemaine Station. Roughly an hour’s train ride on V/Line from Melbourne’s Southern Cross station will take you through the countryside to Castlemaine. It is as simple as that. Your costs both ways would be around AU$50. I love train rides as you can simply sit and stare at the passing scenery. Driving is another option if you are not into trains.
Our excitement cannot be captured with the masks on
Castlemaine is small enough to explore by foot.You don’t necessarily need a vehicle to take you around. However, it is best to choose accommodation that is within walking distance to the town centre so that it is easier for you to explore the area if you don’t have a vehicle.
#7 Things to do in Castlemaine
Let me say that we just couldn’t wait for the weekend to begin. There was too much to do and a weekend seem too little. Friday afternoon was just gorgeous and sunny so were the next two days. We explored by starting with the #Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar and spending a relaxed evening at the #Botanical Gardens.
#1 Vintage Bazaar
Cant agree but more that the Vintage Bazaar at Castlemaine and the surrounding eateries, cafes, ice cream parlours, breweries are the biggest crowd pullers of this wonderfully quaint town. Of course there is more.
Stay patiently as the story unfolds.
The old Mill
An old Mill, lovingly restored to its busy multi purpose complex, The Vintage Bazaar is an essential part of this complex. Just a short walk away from the town centre, it is easy to get lost in this colourful vibrant Bazaar. It is a happy place. Better be prepared to spend a bit more than you originally planned to because it is exactly what I did. There are plenty of things from Vintage clothes to Crockery to everything and anything. I could not get enough of it and would have gone back had there been more time. You need a good 1-2 hours to browse and find your little/ big treasures.
#2 Botanical Gardens
Right opposite the Mill is the Botanical Gardens. You will not get lost at the Botanical Gardens for sure. It is comparatively small than you would imagine. However it is the home for an impressive collection of trees and native plants. This is also a great place to relax, enjoy a picnic and even a BBQ or just laze around and enjoy the cool breeze by the pond.
#3 Ice Cream Social Castlemaine – Treat your self to a yummy Gelato
Ice Cream @ #Icecreamsocialcastlemaine is irresistible! The variety is impressive even to the pickiest eater, not that I am aware of any picky Ice cream eaters. You will find ice cream social on one side of the Mill. Cannot miss for sure!
#4 The Best Pub Food @Railway Hotel Castlemaine
I have to say this was my favourite place for eating out. This is a 160 year old hotel beautifully located and almost hidden, tucked away in a corner. There are two things I loved (including my friends) about this place. Its super quirky vintage ambience and the non orthodox Pub Food – just out of this world. The atmosphere was stunning and electric with friends, families and couples locked together to enjoy a splendid summer evening. Service is exceptional and local beer is perfect for the warm evening!
#5 Visit to Buda House
A listed heritage house with sprawling gardens, this is one of the biggest draw cards of Castlemaine. It is the epitome of creativity of Ernest Leviny’s family going back in 100 years
Read more about visiting Buda House here https://budacastlemaine.org
Visiting Buda House must be done in a leisurely manner to enjoy the treasure of this creative family and for story telling. Check out the opening times before you head to Buda House. Do remember to buy some locally produced Jams, relish and sauces from here. My trio citrus jam is one of the best I have had so far.
#6 Roam around the Town Centre
The Town Centre at Castlemaine is a wonderland. There is so much to see and explore, a few hours is not enough – although that’s what I had. Like me if you have only a few hours make sure that you visit the one of the oldest working theatres – Theatre Royal, second hand book store down the main Street, Peter Drew’s art https://www.peterdrewarts.com of Monga Khan opposite the library, Art Gallery & Museum and hop into some quaint shops to grab a few treasures to take home. I found one of the best bees honey at the art gallery – all locally produced #supportlocal
# 7 Coffee Basics Das Kaffeehaus – you’ve got to indulge in Coffee and most delicious cakes and pastries!
Situated adjacent to #icecreamsocialcastlemaine is the Coffee Basics Das Kaffeehaus – Yes it feels like you are in Europe. The coffee is wonderful, cakes are super delicious, service is exceptional and ambience is lovely.
Places to stay in Castlemaine
There are many lovely quaint places to stay in Castelemain that resonate the true essence of this beautiful town. You must pick one of them for your stay. We opted to stay in an Airbnb property managed by a charming gentleman. Set close to the town this century old quirky place was amazing and was great value for money
Castlemaine is not on everyone’s radar. (I really do not know why) and most likely not even on a bucket list. Having explored this beautiful town, I can say that it certainly must be on your #thingstoinMelbourne for a quick weekend getaway or even for a day trip. A couple of days at Castlemaine is fantastic for anyone who is interested in art, culture, history and local produce.
Don’t miss the farmers market – we did miss it ):
Add more to your bucket list with https://www.winecheeseandhike.com/5-amazing-things-to-do-in-sri-lanka/