Castlemaine (including Barkers Creek)
Famous and historic goldmining town
Castlemaine is a name which is probably familiar
to most Australians even though relatively few
may have visited the former goldmining
settlement. The reason being that the town was
the original home of Castlemaine XXXX. In fact,
it is a town with an interesting history and a
number of attractions, including some fine
heritage buildings along its wide streets, a
very good botanic garden (it is one of the
state's oldest) and numerous outstanding private
gardens which are revealed biennially during the
Festival of Gardens. It also has a surprisingly
high profile for the arts, being home to a
number of artists and boasting one of Victoria's
best provincial art galleries.
Castlemaine is located amidst low red hills
at the confluence of Barkers, Campbells and
Forest Creeks, 119 km north-west of Melbourne
via the Calder Highway and 39 km south of
Bendigo at an elevation of 280 metres. Once a
goldmining settlement, it is now a substantial
industrial centre in a fruit-growing and farming
area. The present population is about 7600.
Prior to European occupation the area was
occupied by the Jajowurrong tribe. The first
known white men on the townsite were the party
of Major Mitchell during his Australia Felix
expedition of 1836.
Squatters followed in Mitchell's wake owing
to his favourable reports and droughts in NSW.
Thus, in 1841 the 'Mount Alexander' pastoral run
had been established by William Barker. It was
named after the granite outcrop which looms high
above the horizon to the north-east of
It was on this property, in July 1851, that
one of Barker's shepherds found gold at Specimen
Gully (5 km north-east of Castlemaine). Soon all
of the area's streams were being scoured by a
rag-tag army of hopefuls from all over the
Gold Commissioner Wright established a camp
on the present townsite at the confluence of
Forest and Barkers Creeks (the site is known
today as Camp Reserve) . It briefly served as
the administrative centre for all the Central
Victorian goldfields. By mid-1852, his staff
numbered 300. This camp provided the impetus for
the emergence of a settlement which served as a
supply centre for the local goldfields as they
continued to spread out in all directions.
This centre was initially known both as
'Mount Alexander' or 'Forest Creek'. However, in
a way that was familiar throughout Australia,
local usage was overridden by government
officials who often favoured names honouring
officials of the British government, British
nobility, British relatives, British patrons who
could aid their careers (or all four of the
foregoing) and British place-names. There are
two versions relating to the naming of
Castlemaine. One states that Commissioner Wright
renamed the settlement after his uncle, Viscount
Castlemaine, on whose estate in Ireland he spent
part of his childhood. The other states that
Governor La Trobe named it after Castlemaine in
Ireland where he had been inspector of schools.
However that may be, land was surveyed just to
the north-east of the camp in 1852 and
Castlemaine was declared a town the following
year when town allotments first went on sale.
By 1852 it is thought that there were some 25
000 people on the Mount Alexander diggings,
living in shanty towns of canvas tents which
housed stores, the first school at Castlemaine
(1852), dwellings, sly-grog shops and even an
office of the Bank of NSW (also 1852). It was
around this time that a local confectionary
maker, T.S. Barnes, started producing
Castlemaine Rock. By 1853 Barnes was selling it
from a tent on the diggings. It is still being
manufactured today by his descendants.
Having established themselves, the residents
and proprietors around the government camp were
reluctant to move to the new government survey
site, particularly as it was heavily strewn with
logs and debris from the clearing process.
However, in early 1854, the gold commissioner
issued an order that all of these premises be
evacuated and the shift to the area around
Market Square (the new commercial centre)
The kinds of grievances which led to the
Eureka Stockade in 1854 (see entry on Ballarat)
were given voice at Castlemaine on a rise which
became known as Agitation Hill. An Anglican
Church was raised on this prominence in 1854. It
was one of five churches in Castlemaine by the
end of that year, by which time there were also
several hotels, a brewery, numerous stores and a
growing number of residences. Brick and stone
began to replace canvas and slab-timber.
In 1855 a new rush began at North
Castlemaine, along Forest Creek, and the first
National School opened in a tent with a proper
building erected for that purpose the following
year. In 1856 the settlement was declared a
municipality and work commenced on the present
Many Chinese miners were present at the
diggings, particularly at Guildford. In August
1857 about 1300 Chinese gathered at Mechanics
Hill in Castlemaine to protest a bill over
increased taxation. They tended to band together
in large encampments for safety as hostility to
the Chinese was overt and overwhelming on the
goldfields and there were numerous local
conflicts, some of considerable proportions. The
famous but ill-fated explorer Robert O'Hara
Burke, as superintendent of police in the
Castlemaine district from 1858 to 1860, would
have been involved in many such disputes. The
1861 census recorded about 5000 Chinese in the
The town's first flour mill was established
in 1857. It became a railway foundry in 1860 and
then a portion was used by Cobb & Co as a coach
factory and farriery establishment from 1864.
Edward Fitzgerald also opened the first
Castlemaine brewery in 1857 (he moved his
operations to Queensland in 1887). The first
slate quarry was in operation by 1859, supplying
thousands of tons of flagging to Melbourne and
Over time Castlemaine became recognised as
one of the world's richest alluvial goldfields.
The yield from the field was remarkable with a
peak being achieved in 1852 when, in a six month
period, a staggering 16 600 kg were shipped out
of the district by Gold Escort and, in 1860, the
figure was still as high as 140 kg a week. By
1860 about 30 000 people were thought to reside
in the Castlemaine area. The years of prosperity
saw the construction of some substantial
buildings and it was hoped that Castlemaine
would prove the state's second city. The
townsite then had six banks and two newspapers.
The present gaol, market building and courthouse
were built in 1861-62 and the railway line
arrived in 1862.
However. the alluvial gold soon began to
peter out and the area lacked the gold-rich
quartz reefs of other centres. Thus the
population began to wane. Yet the town did not
drastically decline, due, in large part, to
Castlemaine's industries. The quarry, flour
mills, railway foundry and brewery were still in
operation and Yeats Metallic Paints was
established at North Castlemaine in 1868,
utilising iron oxide from the tailings.
Castlemaine Woollen Company (one of the first
large-scale woollen mills in the state) and
Thompson's iron and brass foundry and
engineering workshops were established in 1875.
This foundry manufactured the gates of the
Botanical Gardens and the machinery for the
woollen mill. It is still in operation today.
The Castlemaine Bacon Company opened in 1905 and
it is now operating as Castlemaine Traditional
Smallgoods, employing 750 people. Castlemaine
was declared a city in 1965.
The Castlemaine State Festival is held
biennially on the Melbourne Cup weekend in
November of even-numbered years. It is a 10-day
event featuring popular music, opera, dance,
theatre, street performances and visual arts
with local, national and international
contributors. The Festival of Gardens (a
showcase of local private gardens) is held
biennially in November of the odd-numbered
years. An art show is held on the Queen's
birthday weekend in June and the Melbourne to
Castlemaine Cycle Race in July.
Things to see:
The Information Centre is located near a
footbridge over Forest Creek adjacent the
Pyrenees Highway as it runs off Forest St into
Duke St, tel: (03) 5470 6200. In September 1999
it will be moving into the Castlemaine Market
Hall in Mostyn St. They can furnish walking
guides through the CBD's heritage buildings and
guiding pamphlets for car tours of the city and
HERITAGE BUILDINGS OF THE CBD
Due to the immense riches which poured into
Castlemaine in the 1850s and early 1860s,
substantial administrative, commercial and
private buildings emerged far more quickly than
in many other centres. Moreover, the town ceased
to grow when the alluvial gold dwindled and so
the older buildings were deemed adequate for the
town. Consequently many of the CBD's structures
date from that early period. Even those that
have been transformed retain older elements such
as post-supported verandahs and ground-floor
shop facades. The Information Centre has
brochures outlining a walk of the CBD's heritage
Centrally located, and the centrepiece of the
Market Square, is the exceptional Castlemaine
Market at the corner of Mostyn and Frederick
Sts. Designed by town surveyor William Downe it
reflects the influence of Christopher Wren and
was built of stone and brick with cement
rendering in 1861-62. At that time it was part
of a complex of market buildings gathered about
the square. A produce market was held here until
1967. It was also the venue for celebratory
balls: in 1862 for the opening of the railway
and in 1867 for the visiting Duke of Edinburgh.
This Classical Revival structure is a highly
symmetrical design centring on a large and
elegant portico capped by a pediment which
incorporates a rising sun motif. On the roof
line is a statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of
agriculture (a symbol of fruitfulness). Within
the portico is an arched doorway guarded by
ornately cast wrought-iron gates. The low-set
wings on either side extend sideways for a short
distance then thrust forward as brick turrets.
Upon these turrets sit cupolas atop ornamental
structures that vaguely echo the temple motif of
the central portico. The light, spacious
interior is based upon a Roman basilica with a
clerestory roof featuring unique curved wood
trusses. The halls once housed 22 stalls which
vendors accessed through side doors. The whole
has been restored by the National Trust and will
soon house the town's information centre.
Bank of Australasia and Goldsmith's Hotel
On the other side of the road from the
Castlemaine Market (cnr Mostyn and Frederick
Sts) is the ANZ Bank which has been a banking
chamber since its construction in 1856 as the
Bank of Australasia.
On the other side of Frederick St is a
pharmacy which was originally Goldsmith's Hotel
Head east along Mostyn St and turn right into
Hargraves St which was named after Edward
Hargraves who was falsely credited with being
the first discoverer of payable gold in
Australia (see entry on Ophir). Hargraves
visited the town late in 1852 as the town survey
was being completed.
To the immediate left is the Theatre Royal.
The original was built in 1855. Two years later
it was burnt to the ground but it was
immediately rebuilt. It has now been in
continuous use since 1857 which makes it one of
Victoria's oldest theatres. In 1856 noted
Irish-born dancer and entertainer Lola Montez
appeared at the theatre during a tour of
Australia. The performances were recalled as
much for her lectures to the audience, her large
claims made for her importance to the destiny of
Bavaria, some untruths about her origins and her
antagonistic response to a minor fracas in the
audience, as for her famous Spider Dance. The
facade dates from the 1930s.
Continue along Hargraves St to the Commercial
Hotel on the Forest St corner. The building
dates from 1857 when it was constructed as
Butterworth's Store. It became the Commercial
Hotel in 1874.
Mostyn St East
Return along Hargraves St and turn right, back
into Mostyn St. As you turn the corner, look to
the right and you will see the original walls of
the Theatre Royal.
Mostyn St was named after the commissioner in
charge of the camp at Fryerstown who later
became police commissioner for the district.
At the corner of Mostyn and Union Sts is the
Albion Hotel with a fine wrought-iron lacework
verandah and the coach entrance through to the
rear courtyard. It is now a bed-and-breakfast.
To the rear of the hotel was the heart of
Chinatown where there were five Joss Houses and
a Chinese Mission Chapel (1860).
On the other side of the road to the Albion,
a little further along, is the former Mt
Alexander Hotel (1864) which is now The
The Trades Hall, adjacent, dates from c.1860.
A dressmaker's sign on the side wall indicates
an earlier function of the building.
Return west along Mostyn St. At the corner of
Lyttleton Ave is the former Freemasons Tavern.
At the north-eastern corner of Mostyn and
Hargraves Sts is the E.D. Williams Building.
Originally a collection of single-storey shops
it was redeveloped in the 1870s to accommodate
the expanding merchandise and grocery business
of Mr Williams.
On the north-western corner is a shop. The
wall facing Hargraves St was part of the
government survey office where the town's first
municipal meetings were held in 1856.
Turn right into Hargraves St. To the right is
Penney's Bakery (c.1880). Note the sign "Three
Course Meals 1/3 d" on the second-storey facade.
Over the road is the former Union Bank
(1859), now a two-storey private residence. On
its northern side is French's Talbot Drug Store
(1858), also two storeys.
Just beyond Lyttleton St is St Mary's
Catholic Church (completed in 1866 with later
additions), originally erected as the result of
the efforts of Father Patrick Smyth who figured
largely in the Eureka Stockade rebellion.
On the other side of the road is the police
station which was constructed in 1855 as the
State Savings Bank. Note the keystone in the
arch of the facade. On its southern side is an
old granite lock-up.
At the north-western corner of Hargraves and
Lyttleton Sts is a private residence which was
originally the gold warden's office.
Lyttleton St was named after a member of the
goldfields police who later became inspector of
Adjacent the gold warden's office is the
cement-rendered Classical Revival courthouse.
Built in 1877 it features single-storey wings
projecting from a two-storied central block with
a pedimented gable and colonnade. It is now home
to the historical society who conduct research
and guided tours, tel: (03) 5472 1425.
Almost opposite the courthouse is the former
Imperial Hotel (1861). Most striking to the eye
are the mansard roof with its lovely dormer
windows and decorative chimneys, and the
two-storey verandah featuring highly ornate
cast-iron lacework and supporting posts. The
shaded facade consists of five bays and French
doors. Also of note are the iron-ridge cresting
and Classical pilasters.
Adjacent the courthouse is the former School
of Mines (1889) and, on the Frederick St corner,
is the monumental red-brick town hall (1898). On
the other side of Frederick St is the old drill
hall (1889), now a Sports Fitness Centre.
Head along Frederick St to Templeton St (named
after the chief of the original town survey
team. This area was the site of the first burial
ground before the cemetery was moved to
Campbells Creek in 1853.
At the corner of Frederick and Templeton Sts
is the fire station which has been on this site
since 1857. The two large buildings on the other
side of Templeton St were built in 1885 as the
citadel and barracks of the Salvation Army.
Adjacent the fire station, in Templeton St,
is a red-brick building which was the barn for
the police troopers' horses, housed in the
downstairs section of the building.
The building on the south-eastern corner of
Templeton and Barker was formerly the police
station. The foundations and cells were
incorporated into the reconstruction of the
building in 1920 when it became the State
Savings Bank. It is now solicitors' offices.
There is an information plaque.
The building on the south-western corner was
originally the Council Club Hotel and Tonk Bros
Hardware (north-eastern corner) dates from the
late 19th century.
Optional Extension to the Walk
Enthusiasts may wish to extend the walk by
taking in some of the historical (and largely
residential) buildings of Campbell and Doveton
Sts. If you do not wish to do so just proceed
past this section to the 'Barker St' entry.
Walk along Templeton St past the Baptist
Church (established on this spot in 1861). At
the end of the road is the wrought-iron lacework
verandah of the former Midland Hotel which was
established in the 1850s though it has been
rebuilt several times.
On the other side of Kennedy St are the
red-brick railway station (1862) and the fine
brickwork of the railway goods shed.
Head north along Kennedy St. Duck into
Campbell St and have a look at 'Campbell House'
at No.3 (1859). Return north along Kennedy St.
Turn right into Doveton St. No.14 dates from
1860 and was used as a boarding house.
At the Barker St corner is the masonic hall
(1873), originally a Bible Christian Church.
Turn right into Barker St. At the Campbell St
corner is the Methodist Church. The oldest
section of this building dates back to 1857. It
is now used by the Seventh Day Adventists.
Campbell St is a Classified streetscape. Keep
to the left-hand side of the road. At the
Hargraves St corner is the Campbell Motor Lodge,
originally a pair of Classical Revival houses
built by a timber merchant named. Campbell who
married the granddaughter of famous Scottish
poet Robbie Burns.
Cross Hargraves St. No.47 dates from 1861 and
no.49 from 1895. Cross over the road. No. 38
dates from 1860-64. Return along Campbell St.
The two-storey residence at no.30 was built in
1874 and the cottage at no.10 Campbell St dates
back to 1860.
Turn right into Barker St. To the left is a
residence built in 1855 for E.W. Cole of 'Cole's
Funny PictureBooks'. This returns you to the
corner of Barker and Templeton Sts.
Barker St was named after William Barker,
another pioneer pastoralist whose run included
part of the land that is now Castlemaine.
The whole eastern side of Barker St, between
Templeton St and Lyttleton St, has been
classified by the National Trust. Adjacent the
solicitors' offices is the library, built in
1857 as a mechanics' institute with additions in
1861, 1872 and 1893. Next to it is the Faulder
Watson Hall which opened in 1895 and adjacent is
the old telegraph office (1857). There is an
On the Lyttleton St corner is the decorative
Classical Revival post office (1873-75). It is
in the form of an Italian palazzo with a central
clock tower, five arched bays and strongly
contrasting colouration. This structure replaced
a wooden post office which was built on this
same spot in 1859 when the service was
transferred from the gold commissioner's camp.
Over the road is the Cumberland Hotel (1884).
Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum
Head west along Lyttleton St to the Castlemaine
Art Gallery and Museum which is considered one
of the state's finest provincial galleries,
featuring major Australian works of the late
19th and early 20th centuries. The collection
includes the paintings of Frederick McCubbin,
Tom Roberts, Louis Buvelot, Russell Drysdale,
Fred Williams, Margaret Preston and many more
recent works. The gallery was founded in 1913
and the Art Deco facade was added in 1931.
The Historical Museum focuses on items
relating to the history of the Mt Alexander
shire. There are photographs, newspaper
clippings and other artifacts.
The centre is open weekdays from 10.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m. On weekends the hours are the same
except it is closed from midday to 1.00 p.m,
tel: (03) 5472 2292.
Churches and 'Ballara'
At the top of the hill is the former
Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church (1894) with
its fine stained-glass windows.
On the other side of the road is the former
Congregational Church (1861-62). To its rear is
the original Congregational Church (1855) which
was the town's first brick church (1855). It
became the Sunday School hall. Adjacent the new
church is the presbytery (1857).
Return to Barker St and turn right. To the
left is Fossey's. It was built in 1860 as the
Ball and Welch Store. Home Hardware, over the
road, also dates from 1860.
Turn right into Mostyn St. On the right-hand
side of the road is a grey rendered building
known as 'Ballara' which was constructed in
1861-64 as the home/office for Edward Fitzgerald
of Castlemaine breweries.
Cross over the road, past the Boer War Memorial
and continue on to Christ Church, an Anglican
structure built of random-coursed sandstone from
1854 to 1858 on what was then known as Agitation
Hill, as the diggers used this spot to hold
protest meetings about the gold license system.
This Gothic Revival design features distinctive
windows and projecting gables. There are 1892
Return along Mostyn St and turn right into
Barker St. On the corner is the Criterion Hotel.
The original Criterion was a two-storey timber
building erected in 1853. The present building
dates from 1883. These are the
longest-continually-licensed premises in the
Adjacent is the CBC Bank (1856) which
replaced an earlier iron structure belonging to
the Bank of Victoria. It is the first of four
bank premises on this side of the road. Next are
the Oriental Bank Chambers (1862), now legal
chambers, then the two-storey Classical Revival
Bank of NSW (1854). The facade consists of five
bays with arched doorways at each end. It is now
the Bank of Melbourne. Adjacent is the National
Bank, built in 1860 as the Bedford Arms Hotel.
Cross the road and return to the Mostyn St
corner which was once a major focus of the town.
Stock were auctioned off here and it was
something of a test of their worth to see how
they fared at hauling a load up the hill on the
western side of Barker St (it was originally
much steeper). Public political meetings were
also held at this corner under a large elm tree.
Note the old drinking fountain in Victory Park
(1919) which is designed for the benefit of
horses and dogs, as well as people.
The following entries take in sites outside of
the CBD. They are organised in the form of a
Located by the corner of Forest St (part of the
Pyrenees Highway) and Urquhart Sts, the Globe
Garden Restaurant was built in 1868 as the
French and English Hotel which replaced an
earlier wooden hotel of the same name (1855). It
was renamed the Globe Hotel and is now a
Follow the Pyrenees Highway east out of town.
Once across Patterson Bridge the road ascends
Wesley Hill. Note the old red-brick miner's
cottages on the roadside. To the right, at the
top of the hill, is the Wesley Church (1852)
which was the first place of worship on Forest
Pennyweight Flat Cemetery
800 metres beyond Patterson Bridge is a turnoff
on the left into Murphy St. 500 metres along
here turn left into Colles Rd which leads across
Zeal Bridge to Moonlight Flat. The cemetery is
500 metres along this road, on a little green
knoll. Probably established in 1851, Pennyweight
Flat Children's Cemetery was one of the first
cemeteries on the Forest Creek Goldfields. 200
people were buried here from 1852 to 1857, many
of them children. Further along this road is
Donkey Gully which yielded 1000 kg of gold.
Return along the highway, turn right into
Urquhart St then right into Lyttleton St. To the
left is a geological phenomenon known as an
anticlinal fold. It was revealed by road
construction work in 1874. There is a
Burke and Wills Monument
A little further along Lyttleton St turn right
into Wills St. At its end is a Burke and Wills
monument, established in 1862 when news of the
explorers' deaths was the talk of their country.
There are excellent views over the city from
Drive to the end of Lyttleton St and turn left
into Kalimna Rd which leads through Kalimna Park
which combines natural and regenerated bushland
where wildflowers are common in spring. There
are nature trails, as well as a golf course and
Follow Kalimna Rd which eventually bends to the
left, becoming Hunter St. At no.42 is 'Buda, a
private home which was built in 1861 in the
Indian bungalow style by Colonel John Smith, an
army colonel who had served in India. He named
it 'Delhi Villa'. In 1863 it was purchased by
silversmith, jeweller and watchmaker Ernest
Leviny who journeyed to Australia in 1853 to
mine gold. He made improvements to the building,
giving it its current name in honour of Budapest
in Hungary, his birthplace. It was extended in
The house features the Leviny family's
collection of silver, art and crafts (including
the enamelling, wood-carving, embroidery,
photography and painting of Ernest Leviny's
daughters which reflect their Hungarian
heritage), works by other distinguished
Australian artists, furnishings and domestic
effects accumulated over a period of 120 years.
The house features stucco moulding, a clerestory
and projecting bay-windowed wings and a broken
pediment over the porch. The excellent historic
garden covers 4.5 acres. Given a Category One in
the 1980 Study of Historic Gardens the citation
notes that 'More than any other garden in
Victoria, this has retained the very elusive
character of the nineteenth century...its
clipped cypress hedge is probably the largest in
Victoria'. The ornate aviary was made at
Thompson's Foundry in Castlemaine.
In the 1980s it was bequeathed to the
Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum.
It is open from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. daily.
There is a cafe and guided tours are available
by appointment only, tel: (03) 5472 1032.
Some More Historic Buildings
Turn left into Urquhart St then right into Bull
St. Numbers 37, 39, 31 and 33 (1865) and 15
(1893) are all of interest.
Turn off Bull St into Barker St. To the right
is Castlemaine North Primary School which is
housed in a brick structure will belcote dating
back to 1873.
Turn right into Hunter St then left into
Hargraves St. On the Hall St corner is
'Barrington', built in 1866 for Judge Leech.
'Kaweka' and Kaweka Wildflower Reserve
A little further north on Hargraves St, to the
right, is Kaweka Wildflower Reserve. There are a
number of walking tracks . It was named after
'Kaweka' (1896), a private residence adjacent
the reserve in Hargraves St (between Turner and
Halford Sts) which was built for foundry owner
and former mayor of Wellington, John Thompson.
Turn left into Halforth St, left into Barker St
then right into Parker St. To the right is
Thompson's Foundry which has been operating on
this site since 1875. Cross the railway line and
Parker becomes Walker St. To the immediate left
is the former Woollen Mill (1875) which became a
carpet factory after a major fire in 1981.
Castlemaine Botanical Gardens
Opposite are the town's Botanical Gardens which
were established in 1856 on the site of some
exhausted diggings on Barkers Creek. They are
now recognised as one of Victoria's oldest
public gardens. They were planned and supplied
with the assistance of Baron von Mueller who was
responsible for the laying out of the Botanical
Gardens in Melbourne.
A number of the trees are so old and so
important they have been listed on the National
Trust's register. Of particular interest is a
large English oak which was planted by the Duke
of Edinburgh during a visit in 1867. The tree
bears a plaque commemorating the event. It is
now one of the oldest planted trees in the
state. There is also an Indian bean tree which
is the largest-known in the state. The Catalpa
tree between the ornate main gates in Downes Rd
(wrought locally in 1875 by the newly-opened
Thompson's Foundry) and Lake Joanna which is
quite beautiful when it blooms in spring. A rare
Chinese weeping cypress grows in the northern
section from seeds obtained by the Baron from
China. Other plantings include elms, oaks,
cedars, pines, eucalypts, kurrajongs, silky
oaks, Bunya pines and an avenue of lime trees in
the north-west corner.
At the corner of Walker St and Cornish St is
the Bridge Hotel. The building, originally a
store, dates from 1866. Cornish St leads to the
Mt Alexander Hospital which was started in 1860
as the Benevolent Asylum.
Old Castlemaine Gaol
Now follow Cornish St to its southern end, turn
right into Finch St and take the immediate left
into Bowden St. Just past Edward St is the Old
Castlemaine Gaol. Built of sandstone quarried
nearby in 1860-61, it was decommissioned in
1990. The design consists of a central hall and
radiating cell blocks. Today there is a
fully-licensed restaurant and the old dungeon
kitchen, still in its original condition, has
been transformed into a bar which serves local
wines. There are conference facilities and you
can even spend the night in a cell if you desire
as they offer affordable bunk-bed accommodation.
Fully guided tours are conducted, tel: (03) 5770
Camp Reserve and Broadoaks
Drive along Edward St and turn right into
Gingell St. To the left, near the Forest St
corner, is Camp Reserve. Gold Commissioner
Wright set up a large government camp here soon
after the goldrush began. It employed 300 people
and provided the impetus for the development of
the town. Army units used the reserve as a
parade ground. The entrance gates are in Forest
St. There is a granite memorial cairn with an
'Broadoaks' is an early Gothic Revival
residence located at 31 Gingell St, facing the
reserve. It was the home of famed and ill-fated
explorer Robert O'Hara Burke who was
superintendent of police at Castlemaine from
1858 to 1860.
Victoria's Oldest Goldfields Building?
Goldsmiths Crescent runs south off Forest St,
opposite Gingell St. Down here, to the right, is
an historic red gum. The police used to chain
prisoners to the tree when the local lock-up was
Opposite, set back from the street at 7
Goldsmiths Crescent is a single-storey,
red-brick house with a timber verandah which was
originally a courthouse (1852). The original
shingles are still in evidence beneath the newer
corrugated-iron roof. It is thought to be the
oldest surviving building on any of the
At the end of the crescent turn left into
Yandell St which immediately reaches a
T-intersection with Gaulton St. No. 24 was built
in the 1860s as two cottages which have since
been carefully merged. They were associated with
a brewery that has since been demolished.
Walk south along Gaulton St. There is a
bridge over Forest Creek. The original on this
site was Castlemaine's first bridge. On a little
knoll to the right, as one approaches Sheriff's
Bridge, is a large red-brick house with white
trimmings which served originally as the
sheriff's house (1850s). It was one of three
brick buildings erected for officials of the
government camp which extended as far south as
Cross the bridge, turn right into the highway.
After 500 metres turn right into Elizabeth St.
After 700 metres turn right into Ray St. At no.
60 Ray St is 'Ferndale Manor', a two-storey
house with Georgian and Classical elements built
in 1856 for magistrate George Isaacs.
Turn left into Farnsworth St. The Elizabethan
home at no. 39 dates from 1866-69. Just past it,
to the left, is the red-brick powder magazine
(1856). Erected on a stone plinth it features
buttresses and a vaulted brick ceiling under an
iron roof. The sandstone cottage (1866) at no.
47 originally housed the caretaker.
Flour Mill and Greenhill Ave
Turn right into Forest St then right into Barker
St. To the right, before the bridge, is a large
red-brick building with sandstone corners which
was built as a flour mill and used as a foundry
during the construction of the railway. It was
later used as a distillery by the Fitzgerald
brothers as part of their Castlemaine Brewers'
Continue across the bridge and take the first
left into Greenhill Avenue. The streetscape is
generally of interest here. There are miners'
cottages and more substantial residences. At
no.24, is 'Talerdigg', a single-storey Classical
Revival brick villa built in 1869 and extended
in 1881 and 1890. It features bay windows, a
capacious encircling verandah, ornate iron
lacework and fine gardens. Further on, beside
the creek, is Castlemaine's oldest cottage.
There was once a Joss House in this street but
it has, unfortunately, been demolished.
Return along Greenhill Ave and turn left into
the Midland Highway. You will soon cross over
the railway arch (1862), bound for Campbells
Creek. Once a separate village it is now
effectively a suburb of Castlemaine.
Pastoralist William Campbell established the
Strathloddon run in the area in 1840. After gold
was discovered in 1851 a canvas-tent shanty town
emerged . By 1853 it was estimated that 3000
people were living along Campbells Creek. There
were numerous hotels, a brewery, houses of
worship belonging to the Primitive Methodists
and Presbyterians and a denominational school.
By 1858 the roads had improved and stone and
brick dwellings and stores had appeared. There
was a huge corrugated iron store, a wooden
wheelwright's shop, a drapery, a general store,
the Phoenix Brewery, several hotels and some
substantial brick dwellings.
In the second half of the 1850s a huge
Chinese camp, estimated at over 3000 people
(some sources say 6000), had emerged along
Campbells Creek, between this point and
Guildford. They gathered together for safety as
hostility to the Chinese was overt and
overwhelming and there were numerous local
conflicts, some of considerable proportions.
Calico tents were the main domiciles, lining
narrow thoroughfares dotted with joss temples,
tea-houses, tailors, apothecaries, gambling
establishments, opium dens, herbalists, barbers
etc. The Chinese tended to work, not so much as
individuals, but in a type of co-operative,
utilising a system of open-cast alluvial mining.
Bucket dredging was employed early in the 20th
century to extract the last remnants of gold.
Orchards, vineyards, breweries and farms
sustained the settlement after the goldrush era.
At the foot of Redfearn's Hill are two small
gables cottages. 'Vermont Villa' (no.131), to
the right, dates from 1861, and, on the other
side of the road, 'Jubilee Cottage' (c.1860).
A little further along, on the left, is the
former Standard Hotel which was built in 1854 as
the Bath Arms. Its name was changed when it was
purchased by the Standard Brewery in 1869. It is
now Smith's Bazaar (47 Main Rd), tel: (03) 5472
Just beyond, also to the left (at 61 Main
Rd), is the two-storey verandahed facade of the
Vine Hotel. It was rebuilt in 1876 after a fire
damaged the original building which was
constructed in 1857. The name was changed to the
Vine Hotel in 1864 after the grape vines which
grew on the property. It is now the Diggers'
Store B & B, tel:(03) 5470 6500.
On the other side of the road is a gracious
Federation house behind a picket fence. It
originally belonged to the owner of the
Campbells Creek's brewery which once stood
behind the impressive home.
A little further along the highway are two
former churches - the first (Methodist) dates
from 1862 and is now a private Christian college
while the second church is now an antique shop.
On the other side of the road, at no.90, is a
wattle-and-daub building which was once a
On the same side of the road, a little
further south, is the Rechabites Temperance Hall
which bears a sign to that effect on its facade.
Continuing south, just past the swimming pool,
is the small old weatherboard shire hall.
The second right after Smith's Bazaar leads
across the creek to a road which runs parallel
to the highway. Here you will see the
picturesque Castlemaine cemetery which was
removed to this spot in 1853. On a slight knoll
at the cemetery are a Chinese burning tower and
Back on the main road, and a little further
south, are the Five Flags Hotel (1855) and the
Five Flags Store which is older still. This area
was known as Five Flags because of the many
nationalities that worked the goldfields
Dry Diggings Track
The Dry Diggings Track is a 55-km walking route
which winds its way around the old goldfields
between Castlemaine and Daylesford, taking in
Fryerstown, Vaughan, Mt Franklin and Hepburn
Springs. It takes in many of the area's
goldmining relics, as well as its plant
communities and fauna types. A comprehensive
guide map has been drawn up. Ring the
Castlemaine Visitors' Centre for details, tel:
(03) 5470 6200. This track represents one
section of Victoria's Great Dividing Trail, a
series of co-ordinated walks across the ranges
and Central Highlands.
Diggings Heritage Project
A project which is being developed locally, and
which will be ready to operate in the near
future, is the Diggings Heritage Project. It is
based upon a comprehensive guidebook to the
region's goldmining heritage which outlines a
network of four drive-walk heritage trails. They
will incorporate historic buildings, goldmining
gullies, bush graves, old miner's huts, rusting
relics and a number of sites that are otherwise
inaccessible to the public, including the Forest
Creek Goldmine (1850s) and the old poppet head,
shaft, winding house, changing rooms and
crushers of the Wattle Gully Mine. Essentially a
carload of people will pay a fee for the
passbook, a quality souvenir brochure and the
keys to various sealed attractions. Ring (03)
5472 3222 or (03) 5472 1110 for more information
or an update on its readiness.
At Barkers Creek (5 km north-east of
Castlemaine) a cairn marks the spot of the
Specimen Gully gold find which sparked the 1851
rush to the Castlemaine district. The former Old
England Hotel dates from c.1864.
The Dingo Farm, signposted from the highway
between Castlemaine and Chewton, is open daily
from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. It offers visitors a
chance to get beyond the bad publicity
surrounding Australia's only native dog.
Effectively a dingo stud, the farm is aimed at
keeping pure genetic strains going. The pups are
sold (for high prices), tel: (03) 5472 3266.