When it comes to experiencing a creative, collaborative town, you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere that compares to Castlemaine. Nothing seems to faze the people, they are extraordinarily confident in trying new things and they’re completely individual in their approach, largely unconcerned by what others think. This confidence is sure to be backed by the tremendous support they have for each other along the way, bonding the community in a special way.

It's around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Castlemaine from Melbourne
It's around 30 minutes to Bendigo
Castlemaine is located on the V/Line Epsom Bendigo train line

V/Line Train Timetable Bendigo

Let’s take a look at some of the crew, and see why your next catch up in Castlemaine will be rewarded with unexpected finds.

Corner Store Merchants

If you have a bunch of friends who are sassy and always on-trend, then this is the ultimate gift store for them. Castlemaine’s old State Savings Bank building has been transformed into a bright space packed to the brim with new and vintage clothing, eclectic homewares and items that will surprise and delight. You’ll find fashion brands that are happening now - most from Melbourne and local artists. They have exhibitions in a small gallery space, the former bank manager’s office, and their change room is a fun conversion of the old vault. You’ll likely be happy locked in to peruse to your heart’s content.



Love Shack Brewing

After working together at Stomping Ground, Collingwood, Conna Mallett and Harry Cox discovered a shared dream to establish a brewery in Castlemaine where they could ‘make beer and bring people together’.  New Year 2021 marked the launch of Love Shack Brewing, and with it a cracking pace to keep up with demand. This cute little shack is home to their brewing vats full of Pale Ale, IPA and a Lager. A monthly limited release can be expected as well, which so far consists of Sours, Mid Strength Red IPA, ESB and a soon to be released Brown Ale. For passers-by, you can find the Love Shack down the laneway next door to the Theatre Royale.  When a gig is on at the theatre, the music flows out the doors, making it a pretty cruisy way to spend your days.  You can also munch on a Bistro Lola pizza in a shady part of their beer garden or beneath their pergola. All in all, it’s a laid-back spot, and you can feel the ‘love’ for what they do.

Rear of, 30 Hargraves St, Castlemaine


Merchants of Mostyn

We’re heading down the rabbit hole now, and in a good way. Merchants of Mostyn is full of very unusual and extraordinary things. Your head will be spinning, and you’ll easily spend hours searching through the quirky contents. Part of the joy that you feel in the space is the floral aromas, the music, and owner Nicola. Nicola’s friendly and comfortable nature makes you feel like hanging out. She moved to the region almost two years ago and, through her retail background, established a store that has a mix of clothing, homewares, gemstones, art and handmade products. You can also find Nicola’s work at Edge Gallery in Maldon.



The Bridge Hotel

It’s worth travelling to Castlemaine for the live music scene alone, and The Bridge Hotel is one such venue attracting superstars to their stage. Owner, Patrick Furze, has a knack of getting the best. In recent months they have had the likes of Julia Stone and Emma Donovan. They’ll always have someone planned that you’ll like, with a broad range of musicians and live acts three days a week. Then everything else they do, like scrumptious meals, local drinks, their lush beer garden, and being family friendly, means you just need to sit back and enjoy.



Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar

You can’t go to Castlemaine without making a stop at The Mill. It has become a hub for food and art, attracting tourists and locals alike. A favourite spot within The Mill is the Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar, and with around 2,000 square metres of market stalls all under the same roof, it’s a place you’ll want to commit a few hundred hours of browsing. You’ll find vintage clothes, memorabilia, jewellery, art, antiques and even new stuff. What’s found today may be gone tomorrow, so it’s essential to visit regularly. Music to your ears? Yes, you’ll find tunes there too.



Boomtown Wine

Indeed, it’s now wine o’clock. Our last stop is with Boomtown, also at The Mill. This place epitomises the collaboration culture evident throughout Castlemaine. Owner and winemaker, Tim Sproal, is generous with his time, sharing his passion, knowledge and equipment with budding winemakers. His approach and wines are down to earth, honest and openly experimental. Boomtown grapes come from vineyards in the surrounding region, and they are handled simply with low intervention. Tim also makes Minin Wines, which in contrast is a more grown-up, serious range, to the seasonal Boomtown editions that grace the winery storeroom for only a short time. It’s essential to sign up and follow their activity, so you don’t miss the small-batch, exclusive blends.



About the author

Narenna Bloomfield
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Narenna is a country girl at heart, growing up on a dairy farm north of Bendigo. Now living in Kyneton, (her husband’s hometown) she is a busy mum of three littlies. She loves gardening, baking, photography and getting out and about in the area. A favourite day in the region would be a weekly shop at a farmers’ market, meandering through an open garden and finishing with a dinner in one of the acclaimed restaurants along Piper Street, Kyneton.

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