Castlemaine was the centre of one of the richest alluvial gold fields, Mount Alexander Gold Fields in the 1850’s . Its riches were later surpassed by Ballarat and Bendigo, where there was reef gold requiring greater investment than alluvial. Less than a 2 hour drive out of Melbourne, Castlemaine and the area around it, south of Bendigo, is inherently charming and cohesive. One after the other of architecturally intact, 18/19c towns are complete with broad streets and fine avenues of shady trees.
For some time now the area has been known as a local centre for arts and fine regional dining. Furniture-maker, Nicholas Dattner, recently refurbished, The New Northern Hotel. He has restored it to its’ former art deco glory with rich timber panelling and a collection of his furniture from Nicholas Dattner & Co. The tapas-style menu from chef, Andrew Saxon is fabulous and the home-baked croissants on the breakfast menu certainly makes it worth the trip from Melbourne.