Castlemaine is a Victorian town which was certainly built on gold taken from the fabulously rich local surface fields. And it is a town loyal to the past through some magnificent and faithfully preserved old buildings such as the ornate Market Building (1862), which now houses the Castlemaine Visitor Centre, and the original gaol. The gaol is now an alternative accommodation venue, complete with cellar bar and cell block bedrooms.
Herons Reef Gold Diggings displays early methods of gold extraction and an authentic digger’s hut dating back to 1867. The site also includes the ruins of miners’ huts which remain virtually as they were when the diggers abandoned them and the spent fields.
The Theatre Royal, where femme fatale Lola Montez once entertained the miners, is one of the oldest surviving theatres in the state. Well worth an hour or two is the Castlemaine Art Gallery whose collection includes Frederick McCubbin's Golden Sunlight which was donated by Dame Nellie Melba.
While it honours its heritage, modern Castlemaine is a pleasant town whose biennial Festival of Gardens attracts visitors from far and wide to enjoy such gems as the Buda historic home and garden. Another popular regional occasion is the annual Castlemaine State Festival, held in April.