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... a small town city, rich in history

Okay after two days getting to know each other, I think we're ready for our first road trip together. I've had to order a bigger bus as we welcome today Neesie, Gosia, Terra and Nancy who are joining us. I've chosen the cute town well, it's actually a small city, of Castlemaine 125 km North West from Melbourne in central Victoria. 

I think it will be a great introduction to country Victoria. 
It has a rich history founded on gold, I knew that you'd like that.

You see Australia was really just an outpost for convicts until in a gentle wooded valley, gold was found and then boy did the world take note. It wasn't just for rough cut blokes, sheilas and convicts, this faraway corner of the world suddenly had pulling power. 

From 1851 onwards the population of Victoria exploded.  Diggers came from all over the world. Fossicking and prospecting became the order of the day and they were rewarded with finds of some of the world's largest gold nuggets.

Modern day Castlemaine
Castlemaine's gold was near the surface, it was amongst the earliest found in Victoria, but was also the first depleted. Which means that it's importance in gold rush terms was not as significant as the bigger cities of Ballarat and Bendigo.

With gold came prosperity, and with prosperity came the legacy of some magnificent buildings and churches...

The Empyre Hotel originally build as the Albion Hotel in the late 1800's
... and one of regional Victoria's loveliest public gardens. 

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens
Fast forward one hundred and fifty years plus 
and you find a town which has survived the post-goldrush demise,  
yet still maintained a lot of its olde worlde charms.

Today Castlemaine is a thriving centre for agriculture, arts and gastronomy. 

So let's start with a drink and make a plan! 
I know a lovely little place it's a taste of Vienna...
I'm thinking this sort of eatery will appeal to Sami, Carie-Anne, Ashmita and Jill?

So just in case you are a tad confused about whether we are in Austria or Australia
let me reassure you this is very much in the heart of Australia!
A wander through some of the many interesting shops will prove this.

Koalas at the Restorers Barn
So now that we have a plan let's start with a tour of the city centre 
to admire many more of these fabulous historic buildings...

Of course, what I love is the contrasts between the grand and the simple miners cottages and historic farm homesteads. 
Cow Poo for sale!
Whilst we are passing let me take you into the Restorers Barn, 
I particularly wanted to show this to Carol, Jeanie, Cynthia, Bette and Mary-Anne
I'm sure we can all enjoy a quick poke around spotting things we recognise from our own youths and things we don't!

Restorers Barn
Perhaps now is a good time to pop into the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, which are among the earliest of Victoria’s  provincial botanic gardens. They have recently had a multi-million dollar upgrade to paths, playgrounds and toilets. From previous blogs, I know these spectacular gardens this will be appreciated by Karen, Amalia and Lady Fi!

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens
Other than this, 
I reckon not much has changed since the first curator was appointed in 1866. 
Except that the acorns have grown into splendid oak trees! 

We must make some time for the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park on the edge of town. Which gives us plenty of opportunity to walk off lunch and for Eileen and Margaret to do some bird spotting. 

The Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park

Well I think we'll leave it here for today at

 Castlemaine - like stepping back in time, with all mod cons! 

I do hope you have enjoyed our little wander?

It has been lovely to have so many blogger friends join me on our virtual Wander Victoria* tour. If you want to join tomorrow leave me a message either below or via e-mail and I will include you in tomorrow's commentary. 

Tomorrow we're off on a yoga retreat to a Spa Town. Please wear loose comfy clothes and make sure you are up bright and early with your best singing voices!

PS: Wander Victoria is an initiative of our Victorian State Government to encourage us to explore the charms of regional Victoria. You can find out more on my previous post here

Linking with Our World Tuesday, thanks to all the hosts

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