Book unique holiday rentals, houses, and more on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
Little of the historic glory of this bustling town in the Goldfields region has faded with time, even as its population shrinks. Built in the heat of a gold rush in the 1850s, the boomtown grew to be a major regional center, and the broad streets lined with majestic public buildings and shops dating back more than a century still show that off today. The area’s past fuels its continuing reputation as a hub for arts of all types, as seen by the Theatre Royal, the oldest continuously operating theater on the Australian mainland. While the town’s history and beauty bring visitors to admire the local architecture and gardens, its trendy food culture and creative class keep people coming back.
Castlemaine sits an hour and a half drive north of Melbourne, where the Melbourne Airport (MEL, and otherwise known as Tullamarine Airport) serves international and domestic flights and offers plenty of car rental options. However, the train also connects the town to the big city, with frequent daily departures making the two-hour trip. An airport in nearby Bendigo (BXG) receives flights from only Sydney, but offers another transportation option and also connects to Castlemaine by train. Once you’re in town, the local bus system along with taxis and rideshare services mean that you can explore the city and surrounds without needing to rent your own vehicle.
Warm summers, mild winters, and a moderately dry atmosphere make Castlemaine a year-round destination for vacationers looking to spend time outdoors. While the high temperatures in the hottest months can average well into the 80s Fahrenheit, the lows in the evening still cool off to the mid-50s. In winter, the lows can get down to the high 30s, while daytime highs only warm up to about the mid 50s. Rain, when it happens, mostly falls in the winter, and tends to come in storms, rather than a steady drizzle. Those heavy downpours are best avoided with a foray indoors, rather than by bringing heaps of waterproof layers.
Australia’s first national heritage park invites visitors to view the town’s history through what it left behind. Among the hiking and biking paths, rare and threatened wildlife, and blooming wildflowers, visitors can check out the remains of the region’s gold mining past in the form of cemeteries, old mines and home sites, and machinery.
Founded only shortly after the town was, in 1860, this garden (one of the region’s oldest) displays the wealth of the Gold Rush era with an impressive collection of trees from near and far, an artificial lake, and a stunning rotunda among the flower beds. Highlights of the garden include an English oak planted in the 1860s, a heavenly wisteria display, and a restored fountain.
Just across from the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, this former woollen mill also dating back to the 19th century brings in visitors with a much more modern draw — as a hub for local shops, artists, and food and drinks. In three segments — food, artisan, and vintage — plus studios and offices, the large complex gives visitors a taste of the city’s major assets.