At the heart of the central Victorian goldfields, Castlemaine is a rewarding working-class town where a growing community of artists and tree-changers live amid some inspiring architecture and gardens. Even after the gold rush subsided, Castlemaine has always had a reputation for industry and innovation – this was the birthplace of the Castlemaine XXXX beer-brewing company (now based in Queensland) and Castlemaine Rock, a hard-boiled sweet lovingly produced by the Barnes family since 1853. It’s also the ‘Street Rod Centre of Australia’, where hot rods have been built and shown off since 1962.
After gold was discovered at Specimen Gully in 1851, the Mt Alexander Diggings attracted some 30,000 diggers and Castlemaine became the thriving marketplace for the goldfields. The town’s importance waned as the surface gold was exhausted by the 1860s but, fortunately, the centre of town was well established by then and remains relatively intact.