A 90-minute drive from Melbourne, the former gold-rush town offer rich pickings for thrifters, trail riders and coffee lovers.
For a taste of Castlemaine’s famed boho life, check in to the super-eco, rainwater-fed Riversdale Retreat in Chewton, 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of the town. Short-listed for a coveted World Architecture Festival Award, the house is scattered with Japanese elements, including a tatami area for quiet contemplation. Outside, there’s bushland and 'roos and a firepit begging to be lit.
But where to for dinner? Drive to Castlemaine’s The Mill dining precinct for woodfired pizzas at The Taproom, a brewery co-owned by ex-Hunters & Collectors drummer Doug Falconer.
In need of a delicious pick- me-up? On your way to Harcourt’s mountain-bike trails, swing past Johnny Baker’s Drive-In patisserie where tattooed, bearded bakers turn out exquisite treats and cracking pies. Order the frankfurt croissant, made with Belgian butter and a snag from Castlemaine’s own fleischermeister, Ralf Fink.
The 11 bike trails at La Larr Ba Gauwa Park are prized for their bush views. The 2.3-kilometre Wanyarra track is ideal for first-timers (you can hire gear at the Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre)
Afterwards, tuck into a classic Wiener schnitzel at The Mill’s Das Kaffeehaus. Co-owner Elna Schaerf-Trauner has re-created the Viennese coffee houses of her youth, where intellectuals would gather to talk politics.
Before you leave The Mill, call into Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar, a store the size of four basketball courts, brimming with well-travelled luggage, kitschy tea towels and all things macramé.
For dinner, take a seat by the fire at The Railway Hotel and order the porterhouse steak with hand-cut chips and garlic butter. With its wooden bar, velvet curtains and pool table, this English-style pub is beloved by locals (to blend in, be sure to pronounce the “castle” in Castlemaine like “hassle”).
This story was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.