posted on 08 Jan 20 | by

Our destination has so much to offer over the summer months with fantastic events, live music, exhibitions and delicious seasonal produce.  Here’s our 10 ‘Summer Essentials’ to ensure you make the most of your visit whilst also staying cool and comfortable.

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1. Shade

We are located in the country so if you’re after shady trees we’ve got you covered, literally! Our shady pride and joy is the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens - home to an impressive collection of native and exotic trees all suitable for rolling a picnic rug under. Whilst in the gardens, be sure to check out the largest Indian Bean tree in Victoria or retreat to the shady elegance of one of the rotundas.

The gorgeously green Oak Forest at La Larr Ba Gauwa at the base of Mount Alexander is a quiet retreat. Head to Vaughan Springs to sample refreshing mineral spring water straight from the source and find the perfect perch along the beautiful Loddon River.  There’s more mineral springs at the Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve plus a creatively designed wooden playground, BBQ area and beautiful scenery along Back Creek.  For a leafy area, playground and BBQ combo, duck behind Maldon's Visitor Information Centre where you'll find the Maldon Shire Gardens.    

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2. Swimming and water sports

If size matters, then head to the Castlemaine swimming pool which is the largest in the area at 50 metres. There’s also a toddler’s pool, a kiosk and shaded grass areas.  You can also cool off at swimming pools at Newstead, Maldon and Harcourt, which are a popular destination during the warm summer months. The Cairn Curran Reservoir is home to a yacht club and is a popular water skiing and freshwater fishing destination. This time of year you can fish for Golden Perch, Brown Trout, Murray Cod and Redfin in the Reservoir's deep water. Bring your rod and make a day of it.

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3. Air-conditioned places to eat

If you like to eat in air-conditioned comfort, take sanctuary at Das Kaffeehaus open for breakfast and lunch. Re-opened after their Christmas break, you can relax over a freshly roasted coffee, sip on the local and Austrian beers and wines, feast on good, old-fashioned “like Oma used to cook” hearty meals and stay for the extensive range of cakes and pastries. The Bridge Hotel Castlemaine, Five Flags Hotel in Campbells Creek and the newly opened Wild wine bar in Castlemaine are also well renowned for their food offering.

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4. Beer gardens and courtyards

If you’re an outdoors type and relish the opportunity to eat or drink alfresco, there are some fab beer gardens and courtyards to discover.  The Bridge Hotel again is one of our top picks. Their shaded beer garden is family and dog friendly and often abuzz with live music. The Kangaroo Hotel in Maldon, Red Hill Hotel in Chewton and Guildford Hotel in Guildford also offer well decked out outside areas, with the occasional live music gig. For a delicious meal and a coffee outdoors you can’t go past the flourishing courtyards of North Kitchen, Origini and Fig in Castlemaine and Dig in Newstead just to name a few. There’s also the sunny rooftop terrace at Togs, which is a bit of a hidden gem!  

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5. Ice-cream

It just ain’t a summer’s day without ice-cream. In true Castlemaine style, we have our very own retro ice-creamery called Ice-cream Social that creates genius small batch ice-cream, gelato and sorbet, all using local produce.  Call into their ice-cream parlour Wednesday to Sunday or keep an eye out for their groovy 1980's ice-cream van that pops up around town and at local events.  Our home-made ice-cream offering doesn’t stop there. We also have Maldon Fudge and Ice-creamery serving up ice creams, gelato and fudge handmade on their premises in the heart of the charming Maldon township. 

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6. Locally produced bevvies and other treats

Cider and beer are quintessential thirst quenchers for the summer. At Henry of Harcourt you can taste and purchase cider and perry direct from the makers themselves. Have a chat with Michael and Irene and appreciate the care that goes into nurturing their crop into every drop. For craft beer, you can wet the whistle at The Taproom – Shedshaker Brewery.  They have a beer for any palette but our pick for summer is the Golden Ale – crisp and fresh with earthy malt flavours and fruity finish.  If you prefer a refreshing cocktail head to The Empyre Hotel. Ask bartender Benjamin Cleonard to whip you up their signature sip called the ‘Empyrean’ containing gin, cucumber and mint. Harcourt Produce and General Store stocks a range of local wines, ciders and beers from the area.

Don’t think that because Christmas is over you can’t enjoy a good pudding. Pud For All Seasons bakes delicious puddings year round that can be devoured during the summer months too.  Be sure to visit Johnny Baker’s and The Mill for the best pies, baguettes, pastries, bread, meats and sweet treats to tuck into on your picnic.  And don’t forget it’s stone fruit season so time your visit with one of the local produce markets to stock up whilst they’re in abundance.  

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7. Indoor experiences

Bet you haven’t been to all of our galleries? We have a diverse range and they’re all awaiting your discovery over summer. At the Newstead Arts Hub you’ll be inspired by the creative space with local history, heart and soul. At the Brian Nunan Gallery you’ll see Brian’s large studio creations telling stories of the bush and its people.  The Left Bank Gallery displays the colourful paintings of artist Ron Holden. The Falkner Gallery specialises in historic and contemporary fine arts by Australian and international artists. A stunning repurposed church is now the Cascade Art Gallery in Maldon. Here the owners believe in Fine Art tradition and provide visitors a meaningful and visually exciting art experience. The Castlemaine Art Museum housed in a beautiful art deco building contains unique collection of Australian art and fascinating historical artefacts reflecting the early history of the district. Buda Historic Home and Garden displays silverwork and original jewellery designed by noted colonial silversmith and jeweller Ernest Leviny. 

Still need more cool things to do?  It doesn’t get much cooler than a mine shaft! Don the miner’s helmet and head down into the colder depths of Carman’s Tunnel for a candlelit tour.  The Victorian Goldfields Railway is a great activity for a warm day. Board the train at Maldon or Castlemaine and kick back for a leisurely journey between the two towns – book first class so you can enjoy a cold beverage as you travel. For all train bookings over summer they have a special price, see their website for details.  It’s never too hot to shop! Bookshops, vintage and collectables are our specialty. The Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar and Maldon’s Tansley & Co Vintage Merchants are top notch. 

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8. Events and live music

The annual Maldon Twilight Dinner on 18th January is a spectacular dinner under the stars. Expect delicious local produce and a night of music and entertainment featuring the Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute band.  Highly regarded international artists descend on Newstead during the Australia Day long weekend as part of the Newstead Live Music Festival.  You’ll hear folk roots music oozing from many unique venues across the township, as well as impromptu sessions, spoken word performances and open-mic sessions. Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal was voted by Music Victoria as the Best Regional Music Venue in Victoria (under 50 gigs), check out their gig guide for what’s on over summer. The Guildford Hotel, The Criterion  Hotel and The Bridge Hotel all offer gigs too. For art lovers, pencil in Arts Open, a biennial event where artists open their studios for visitors to have a squiz - March 7,8,9 and 14, 15. 

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9. Accommodation with a pool

If having your own backyard pool to access is essential for your summer weekend away, consider these stunning luxurious accommodation options.  The Chocolate Lily is a self-contained gem located in Sedgwick, only a 20 minute drive from Castlemaine. The Poolhouse in Maldon is a meticulously renovated cottage with an eclectic mix of Tuscan/French Provincial and modern day country.  Castlemaine Boutique Accommodation has a number of terraces that can accommodate small groups, each fitted out with the finest of comforts and access to a pool. For more accommodation options, click here

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10. Fire awareness

During the warmer drier months, the reality is that fires are a threat. Make sure you download the Victoria Emergency app so that you can be informed of any incidents of bushfires in the area. Stay alert and if you’re unsure of fire conditions, you can check in with our staff at the Visitor Information Centres. In the unlikely event that there is a fire, the app will also guide you as to the best route to take to evacuate safely. Visit their website for more details. 

We hope you enjoy your visit over summer. Be sure to subscribe to our ‘What’s On’ database for the latest events news and call into our Visitor Information Centre on arrival.