Friday, October 16, 2009

Castlemaine tour

Now, before we step out we must get the pronounciation of the town correct; it's 'Castle' (as in cat) not 'Carstle' (as in cart).
Newcastle in NSW is pronounced as in cart, Castlemaine is as cat...although there's the odd blow-in around the town who would try to stick a plum in yer gob to get it changed.

*Click on any of the photos to view larger image*

 Info pergola at corner of Castlemaine park showing the propensity for sheep, cattle and...mushrooms in the area.

The train station is not slap-bang in the middle of the town but it's only a short 4 min walk from the main streets past some lovely examples of goldrush, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture. There's the odd ugly-wtf-were-they-thinking type building things but these are easily ignored.
You can download a free map of Castlemaine streets HERE although it's a basic grid pattern so you're not likely to get lost aroud these extra-wide streets with gutters deep enough to have a bath in when they're "running a banker" (over-flowing the banks/sides).

T'other platform at Castlemaine which then looks up the facing hill to see...

A (not very clear) shot of the old Castlemaine Gaol.

But lower your eyes and you'll see something far more important...

Almost a waterway in its own right.

Taking Henry Lawson's advice (from his poem The Song of the Darling River) they dammed their gutters.

Many of the streets now have signs explaining who the street is memorialising, a type of instant sound-byte of history. I tried to get as many snaps of these as possible but a few locals were giving me the hairy eyeball so I ceased and desisted when groups of more than 1 pensioner were about.


For all of its grand buildings and richness in variety it is a small town compared to Bendigo or Ballarat.
Having said that, it still has much to offer to the casual tourist or person looking for a tree-change.

The (now private) Midland Hotel opposite the railway station.

Random shot of a house on way up Templeton Street from station.

Side of (former) hotel now in the middle of extensive renovations corner of Templeton street and Midland Hwy.

Castlemaine Library..still got my card in my wallet somewhere!

It's barely 90 mins drive from Melbourne (less if you count the burgeoning rural towns as outer suburbs these days) the trains are very frequent and reasonably priced, there's still a lot of the small-town, old-fashioned familiarity about it without too much old school stuff to keep it stuck in the past.

Isn't it a gorgeous streetscape?

I haven't lived up that way for 15 yrs now and, while there were little changes, some things were exactly as there were almost two decades ago.
This isn't as bad as it sounds considering there is a recession on (there was a recession effecting Castlemaine 15 yrs ago, too), new businesses starting out in small country towns have less chance of building up good-will and regular clients while new and old businesses have to compete with a much larger regional town, Bendigo, barely 40kms further up the highway.

Leadlight windows appreciated to their full potential.

There are some beautiful buildings to drink in, some great cafes, food shops, book stores and historical things you can only tuck away in your memory to enjoy later.

A bank.

The old Oriental Bank.

Original Telegraph Station.

A monument.

With words.

Obligatory horse trough at the front.......and one 'round the side for man's best friend.

One place I couldn't get a photo of is The Restorer's Barn.
The website is not up yet, which is a disappointment in this day and age considering the fantastic reputation this business has built up. It opened in the early 1990s and has gone from strength to strength since, which is a testament to the owners' hard work sourcing their goods and their realistic prices.
For any serious collector, period house renovator, that hard to buy for person, Xmas and/or birthday pressies this is the place to go. They have everything meticously grouped together so finding a matching/replacement door knob/door latch/boot scraper/light fitting is easy to spot.
Car/garage euphemera abound in old tin signs, old car bodies turned into lounge seats, old washing mangles sit above crystal dishes, enamel bakeware, Chinese cupboards and everything else under the sun.
They even carry a range of bathroom and kitchenware so you could say they even have the kitchen sink!
Some things are not for sale which makes it all the more easier to just 'have a stickybeak' at the stock throughout the huge barn-like structure.

Couldn't find what significance these two artworks (above & below) held but they're quite strikingly pretty (sorry, tad blurry due to rain).

Those who know their Aussie history will remember the Bourke and Wills Expedition which attempted to cross the interior of Oz.  Robert O'Hara Bourke was a policeman stationed in Castlemaine before he took to perching himself on a camel to see what the inner-aspect of Oz held to be discovered (sand, dry sand and Really Arid Sandy Places, apparently).


The Bourke and Wills monument is waaaaaaaaaaaay up that there hill - oh, yes, we so climbed it, although our Shanks' Ponies were a tad knackered afterwards.

And the climb is so worth it!
For those who were fans of the TV series Blue Heelers this was often used in Anzac Day/war memorial shots.

  Panorama of the view.
The hump on the horizon to the right is Mt Franklin, near Daylesford.

I wasn't actually trying to be arty-farty with this one; couldn't fit the whole monument into the frame otherwise!

This is a supermarket.
No, seriously, it is.
You may think it's a high school.
It may look like a high school.
But it's actually an IGA supermarket in disguise.
Shockingly mocking, eh Jussy, keeping the facade like that?
(Great photos HERE).

And now we'll have a break coz Feral Beast is nagging to use the computer to do his maths.


  1. Jayne, the Oriental Bank is on a slant! What is the building with the clock tower pls?

  2. So it's pronounced Cattle-main then?

  3. Andrew, it IS on a slant!
    That's the delicious post office, isn't it a beauty?

    Yep, Brian, there's a fair few bovines rolling their rumps around the streets :P

  4. Ohhhhhhh.
    Neat idea putting history on the street signs.
    Neat idea reusing a schoo.
    Neat old buildings and loved the glass.
    Enjoyed the whole tour. Thanks

  5. Right. Must take a look see at the Restorers Barn one day. Should also probably get my bum into gear and turn that HX Statesman short-rear I have into a sofa. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Thanks, Elizabeth :)
    Hope you enjoy the second part, too :)

  7. LOL, M, you'd enjoy the place.
    Ohh, a HX Statesman sofa?!