street of Maldon
Extraordinary historic town which looks as
though time has stood still.
In 1966 Maldon became the first Victorian town
to be classified by the National Trust. This
honour reflects an appreciation of its
remarkably well-preserved historic streetscape
with its European trees, wide verandahs,
flagstone paving, old-fashioned shop fronts,
quaint cottages with attractive gardens, and its
many stone buildings erected in the heyday of
the goldmining era.
The town's genuinely historic feel is quite
overwhelming, arising out of its architectural
harmony, an extensive restoration program that
has avoided tackiness and frippery, strict and
divisive controls on building alterations, an
absence of grandiosity and the tendency of the
shops to reinforce the antiquity of their
exteriors with interiors that also bespeak a
For these reasons Maldon has become a very
popular tourist destination, particularly during
the Easter Fair. Hence, many of the buildings
have been converted into specialist stores
designed to appeal to the visitor. Some locals
scornfully regard the tourist orientation as the
'commodification of heritage'. At any rate,
Maldon is located 138 km north-west of Melbourne
via A HREF="VICCastlemaine.shtml">Castlemaine,
which is 19 km to the south-east, and 359 metres
Prior to the arrival of the first squatters
in 1840 the area was occupied by the Wemba-Wemba
people and an Aboriginal station operated near
Mt Tarrangower from 1841-1849. However, the town
really began when John Mechosk, a German
prospector who had already struck gold at A HREF="VICDunolly.shtml">Dunolly,
A HREF="VICMaryborough.shtml">Maryborough and
Kingower, discovered gold at the foot of Mt
Tarrangower in 1853, thereby initiating a rush
of some 20 000 diggers who initially devoted
themselves to alluvial mining. By the end of
1854 the tide had receded to some 2000
prospectors and a township of sorts had
developed around a narrow road.
The settlement was initially known as
Tarrangower. A townsite was surveyed in 1854 but
the location was rejected and ignored by locals.
Consequently the de facto township established
by the diggers was surveyed in 1856 (which
explains the irregular street patterns which
evolved organically as routes between the
diggings). It was renamed after Maldon in Essex,
In 1856 Nuggetty Reef was uncovered to the
north of town and companies entered the picture,
supplying the capital to unearth the
gold-bearing quartz reefs which proved to be
among the richest in the country. In the 1860s
Maldon rivalled Bendigo for returns but, by
1870, the gold had begun to dwindle. In the
subsequent years mines began to close and the
population declined. The last operating mine was
the North British which closed up shop in 1926,
although the Union Mine was reopened in 1987 to
reprocess the tailings.
It is this absence of growth after the late
19th century which has facilitated the
preservation of the town's historic features.
Noted novelist Henry Handel Richardson (nee
Ethel Richardson) spent a portion of her
childhood at Maldon.
The Maldon Camp Draft is held in February and
the Maldon Easter Fair in April. In late October
and early November, a folk festival is held at
Butts Reserve (along the road to Mt Tarrangower)
and the Mt Tarrangower Hillclimb (a motor sport
event) is held in late October. The Spring
Festival occurs in August.
Things to see:
The Maldon Visitor Centre is located adjacent
the shire offices in High St. It is open
weekdays from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m daily. Be
sure to pick up the brochures which outline
walks of the town, tel: (03) 5475 2569.
Historic Buildings - High St (South)
The information centre has two free pamphlets
identifying the town's historic buildings. One
covers the main commercial district (Main and
High Sts) and the other roams more widely.
Start at the southern end of town where the
Castlemaine Rd meets up with High St. Head north
along High St. The second house on the left is
Lauriston House which was built in 1866 for
local mining magnate R.D. Oswald. With its
Malmsbury bluestone and elaborate timber
verandah fretwork it was regarded as the town's
finest building at the time of its construction.
At High and Fountain is the Kangaroo Hotel
(1866) which, with its timber lattice and iron
lacework, was once a staging post for Cobb & Co
coaches. Head south along High St passing, on
the right-hand side of the road, the former
Commercial Hotel (1867), Argyle House (1866),
the former Carriers Arms Hotel (1857), the
former Bank of NSW (1858), the enormous Robert
Cox Motors (built c.1858 as a four-shop
complex), the motorcyclists' (formerly the
Freemasons' Hall built c.1863 with a 1908
facade) and a former flour mill (1873).
Cross the road and return northwards to the
former Royal Hotel which was built as a concert
hall in 1857 and extended in 1862 when it became
the hotel. In 1975 it was used as a setting in
the film 'Break of Day'. All that was required
was to cover the streets in dirt and Maldon
furnished a plausible 19th-century setting. It
is now a restaurant.
Historic Buildings - Main St
The Grand Hotel (1888) marks the start of Main
St. It features some elaborate arches, pilasters
and balusters. To the right, as you head
north-east, are the former McFarlane's Drapery,
built c.1867 (the face of McFarlane's brother,
the Secretary to the Treasury, once graced the
Australian pound note), Cookies Collections
(built c.1870 as a hairdressing salon),
Goldsmith's Building (1897), Berryman's Bootshop
(1895) on the site of an 1857 bowling alley, the
former Albion Hotel (1866), Dabb's Produce Store
(c.1870), a former butcher's (c.1858), Swann's
Buildings (1866) and the grand two-storey facade
of the Maldon Hotel (1909) with its delicate
verandah lacework and slender cast-iron posts.
The hotel extension was originally the stables.
Cornflowers was built c.1860 and was later used
as the Bank of Victoria. Wearne's Building
(c.1895) is currently a residence (note the old
kerosene sign on the wall) and Franklin's
Building (c.1870), at Main and Phoenix, started
as a shoe warehouse.
Diagonally opposite, at Main and Templeton,
is a fruit shop which dates from 1866 (note the
fence and the sign). Just along Templeton St is
Maldon Old Grain Store Antique Market (1864).
Return to Main St and head south, passing, on
the right, the quaint old bakery (c.1895) with
an 1854 wood-fired Scotch oven, Calder's (1866),
originally an ironmongery, Maldon Pharmacy
(c.1860), Wade's Building (c.1880), the former
Dabb & Co. Store with its ornate door (built in
1859 and now the Maldon Supermarket), and the
service station, which is housed in an old
ironmongery and a former smithy (both 1858).
Historic Buildings - High St (Middle)
Turn the corner, heading north back along High
St. On the right-hand side are Wade's House
(c.1865), now a residence, and, at the Francis
St corner, Calder House (c.1885), a
distinguished residence which is now a
restaurant and bed-and-breakfast.
On the other side of High St is the old post
office (1870) which, from 1880-86, was the
childhood home of noted Australian novelist
Henry Handel Richardson. Her mother was the
postmistress. Richardson's autobiography Myself
When Young (1950) recounts her time in Maldon
with great affection.
Walk along Francis St. To the left are the
croquet club (1890) and the museum.
Museum and Courthouse
The Maldon Historical Museum, at the corner of
High St and Fountain St, has mining photographs
and equipment, domestic memorabilia, and
archives. It is located in a mellow-toned brick
building erected in 1858 as a Market Place.
However, this venture was unsuccessful and it
became the shire offices in 1865. The hammerbeam
arches were added to correct the buckling walls
in 1871. It is open weekdays from 1.30 p.m. to
4.30 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 5.00 p.m on
public holidays and weekends.
Behind the museum is the old fire station
(1870) and on the other side of the adjacent
football oval is the former courthouse (1861).
Historical Buildings - High St (North)
Return to the post office and head north-west
along High St. To the left is Robinson's House,
a Gothic Revival structure dating from 1866.
Over the road, at 50 High St, is the unusual
brickwork of Thomas Vivian's House (1862). It
sits in the shadow of Holy Trinity Anglican
Church (1862-89), a Gothic Revival ragstone
structure with exceptional stained-glass windows
and an intricately trussed roof. At 54 High St
is Tressider's Cottage, a miner's cottage dating
back to 1859 which is now a bed-and-breakfast. A
little further along is Dr Lisle's House (1857)
and over the road is the primary school (1874).
At Hospital and High is Dr Hardy's House
(1857) and adjacent is School Cottage (1860)
originally a school. Further along High St and
on the other side of the road is the arched
entranceway of one of the town's grander homes,
'Glendonald', built in 1870 as 'Ethandune'.
Continue north past a range of late 19th-century
residences to the Adair St corner where there is
an Italianate villa with impressive plasterwork.
Historical Buildings - Adair St
At Adair and Chapel is the hospital, built as a
one-storey Classical Revival structure in 1860.
Patients were allegedly given subterranean water
from Eaglehawk Mine as it was believed to have
medicinal properties. Just along Chapel St is St
Brigid's Catholic Church (1891).
Return to the High and Adair St intersection.
On the north-eastern corner is Rule's House
(1897). The brick-and-timber house adjacent
dates from 1875. At the south-western corner of
Adair and Templeton is a corner store and
Historical Buildings - Templeton St
Heading south on Templeton, to the right, are
Brook's residence (1890) with its fine iron
lacework, and a typical timber house from the
1880s. Over the road is Chapman's House which
was started at some point prior to 1863. The
large house on its southern side dates from
At the south-eastern corner of Templeton and
Camp Sts is the former Holy Trinity Parsonage
(1863). The original church was to the rear.
Just to the south is Lovell's Cottage, a timber
house dating from 1860.
Historical Buildings - Church St
Walk along Camp St to the Church St corner where
you will find one of the town's highlights - the
former Anglican Penny School where the children
once paid a penny a day for their schooling. It
was largely rebuilt in 1862 after a storm
destroyed part of the original 1856 structure,
although the tower and entrance porches remain
from that earlier day. The architecture is
unusual and eclectic. Over the road is the Welsh
Congregational Church (1863 with a transept
added in 1901).
Walk south along Church St past the
Presbyterian manse (1859) to the Presbyterian
Church (1905) at the Edward St corner.
Historical Buildings Concluded
At the north-eastern corner of Edwards and
Templeton is the Baptist Church (1896). On the
south-eastern corner is Brook's Store (1864).
Across Templeton St, at the Francis St
corner, is the former Welsh Baptist Church
(1865). On its western side is the former
temperance hall (1873) and behind that is one of
the town's oldest surviving structures, the
former Edwards crushing plant.
Maldon Historic Reserve
The Maldon Historic Reserve constitutes about
2500 ha of public land and forest around Maldon.
It was created to preserve the area's goldmining
relics, including old shafts, abandoned
equipment, mullock and tailing heaps, tunnels,
dams, tracks, kilns, cyanide vats, stone walls
and the goldmining dredge beside the road to
Bendigo, 3 km from the town centre. Some are
The box and ironbark forests are regrowth
projects as the original woodlands were
destroyed by goldmining and farming activities.
Bushwalking, forest drives, wildflowers and
fossicking can all be enjoyed at Smith's Reef
which is signposted to the left off the
Castlemaine Rd about 4 km from town.
The 30-metre Beehive Chimney (1862) is located
just off the road, near the intersection of Main
St and Church St. The Beehive reef was
discovered by Cornish miners who named it after
a swarm of bees which were, at that moment,
settled on a nearby post. There is a picnic area
North British Mine
Turn off High St into Parkins Reef Rd which
heads south-west. 2 km from town, to the left,
is the site where the North British Mine
operated until 1926. A walking track leads past
numerous ruins including two large stamper
batteries and some kilns. There is much to see
but some remnants may go unnoticed or
unappreciated by the untrained eye so be sure to
obtain a guiding pamphlet from the information
centre. The forest just to the south contains
some old puddling machines and mining holes from
the gold days.
Just past the North British, to the right, is
the access point to Carman's Tunnel, a 570-metre
goldmining tunnel which was excavated, largely
with pneumatic drills, between 1882 and 1884.
Despite the extraordinary effort, returns were
minimal. For a small fee you can go on an
informative, candle-lit, half-hour walk through
the dry, clean, spacious, level and easily
accessible tunnel from 1.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. on
weekends, public and school holidays, tel: (03)
The town's handsome railway station in Hornsby
St was built in 1884 . Two steam trains serve as
a static display while another two operational
steam trains are used for 45-minute return trips
into the Muckleford Forest (a diesel locomotive
is used on days of total fire ban). Trips are
made on Sundays and public holidays at 11.30
a..m, 1.00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. and on Wednesdays
and Saturdays in school holidays (same departure
times). Trains also run every day from December
27 to mid-Januray and from Good Friday to Easter
Monday. Ring (03) 5475 2966 for recorded
information concerning train times, or call the
general office on (03) 54751451.
Nuggetty Ranges Winery
4 km north-west of Maldon, on the
Maldon-Sherbourne Road (also known as Bradford
Road), is Nuggetty Ranges Winery. Established in
1994, it is a small family-owned winery which
produces cabernet sauvignon, semillon and an
award-winning shiraz. The cellar door is open
daily from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., tel: (03)
Next to the Nuggetty Ranges Winery, in the
Maldon-Sherbourne Road, is the Maldon Yabby and
Fish Farm which offers a personalised farm tour,
yabbie catching, barbecue and picnic facilities
and sales. It is only open to the public in the
Christmas school holidays, tel: (03) 5475 1086.
One of the best vantage points in town is from
atop Anzac Hill which furnishes views of the
Grampians, Mount Franklin and Mount Macedon in
the distance. You can walk or drive to the
summit along Fountain St although it is
unsealed, difficult and much further (2.4 km up
a steep hill) than most guides will admit. At
the top there is a picnic area and a walking
track which heads west along a 4WD track to the
summit of Mt Tarrangower. If you're looking for
an easier option there is an excellent view of
the town from the Turkish cannon which is less
than a third of the way up the hill.
Mt Tarrangower and Butts Reserve
Mount Tarrangower (570m) is located 2 km west of
town via Franklin St. This was the centre of the
gold diggings in the 1850s and it was here that
the richest quartz reefs were located. Today
there is a very good lookout tower (which is
illuminated at Eastertime), fine picnic areas
and walking tracks to Anzac Hill and Fountain
Just off Franklin St, at the base of the
hill, is Butts Reserve where there are picnic
and barbecue facilities and where a folk
festival is held each year in early November. In
late October it is also the starting point for a
motor race to the top of the hill.
Cairn Curran Reservoir, 12 km south-west via
Newstead Rd, is a large and scenic lake which
offers good opportunities for water sports,
swimming, picnicking and relaxing. There is a
sailing club near the spillway.
Porcupine Township is an award-winning
recreation of an early 1850s gold town located
in rugged bushland on the site of the original
Porcupine diggings where the first gold
discovery between Castlemaine and Bendigo was
made. The buildings associated with the original
settlement have entirely disappeared but slab,
shingle and mud-brick buildings have been
relocated from other goldfields and derelict
townsites. These include a two-storey barn, an
hotel, an undertaker's, miner's huts, a
blacksmith's, a general store, a carriage
repository, a doctor's surgery and a bowling
You can go for a ride in a Gold Escort, pan
for gold, feed the emus or take a trip on the
Little Toot train which does a circuit through
the original diggings. There are actors in
period costume, a resident artisan working in
pioneer style, a licensed restaurant, a motel
and self-contained cottages. The 'village' is
located 2.5 km from the post office at the
corner of the Maldon-Bendigo Rd and Allans Rd,
tel: (03) 5475 1000.
Maldon's pioneer cemetery (1857) contains the
graves of over 200 Chinese goldminers from the
early days of the town. There is a Chinese oven
where incense was burned for ceremonial
purposes, Chinese headstones, a caretaker's
cottage (1866) and a rotunda (1900). Jonquils
grow in profusion in springtime. To get there
follow the Maryborough Rd for 3.8 km then turn
right at the women's prison.