The Lifestyle: Castlemaine

Castlemaine, Photo: Melody Ayres-Griffiths
Castlemaine, Photo: Melody Ayres-Griffiths

Thinking of a move to a regional area for lifestyle reasons? Did you know that Castlemaine, in Victoria, is a lifestyle location? I’ve previously written about the Castlemaine lifestyle. It has heritage streetscapes, friendly people great places to visit…and more.

The 1851 discovery of gold in the Castlemaine area saw a huge influx of migrants. It’s been reported that between 1851 and 1854, the world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfield was located here. It’s a little different in this popular lifestyle destination today. But. What’s it like?

There was an estimated 40-60,000 people on the Castlemaine Diggings in 1852.

Looking ahead, the Geelong Advertiser, in October 1852, made the prediction regarding the gold being exhausted: ‘it is ‘unlikely that these towns will be deserted, for even when the gold is done, the population will find other means of employment’.

These days the area is a vibrant community. It’s a popular lifestyle location.

It is also home to an active arts and culture community, including the Castlemaine State Festival (literature, visual and live art, dance, film, theatre….) a Jazz Festival, a Garden Festival – the list goes on.

Kerry Anderson, author (Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business and Australian Rural Entrepreneurs): ‘I love the heritage and the bush which is only a few minutes away from the CBD, not to mention beautiful botanical gardens for those wanting a more easy walk’.

Photo of red apples on a hessian rug on a trailer, there is a cane basket of red apples at the front. The trailer is outside, Castlemaine lifestyle
Apples, Castlemaine, Photo: Melody Ayres-Griffiths

Lifestyle Activities

For motoring enthusiasts, Castlemaine is home to the Castlemaine Hot Rod Centre: ‘education, leisure and entertainment’. 

Castlemaine also has walking and running groups, tennis, netball, basketball, football, swimming, tracks and trails to explore – to name just a few activities. There’s a 17.7 kilometre trail between Castlemaine and Maldon. It runs beside the historic railway and is also popular with cyclists.

Increasingly, Castlemaine is becoming a popular destination with foodies. From quality cafes, restaurants, hotels and bars to a cheese making school – there is a vibe about the food scene.

Lifestyle: Numbers

With the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census information released, it’s time to revisit Castlemaine.

The 2021 Census showed an increase in population. 

Previously the population, in 2016, was recorded as 6,757. 

In the 2021 Census the population is listed as 10,577. 

The median age is still 50 years. 

Bendigo is around 34 kilometres away, Melbourne is about an hour and a half away.

The mean maximum temperature is 19.9C. The mean minimum temperature is 7.8C

Castlemaine lifestyle, ld, yellow building of Castlemaine Library established 1855, with red trim around the windows.
Castlemaine Library, Photo: Maryana Garcia

Run Rabbit Run!

Recently I attended a Start Up Central Vic event. 

The speaker was local business owner Peter Bottomley, an owner of the ‘Run Rabbit Run’ cafe (24 Hargraves St, Castlemaine).

His family has been in the area ‘for over 160 years’.

He previously worked for a Bank in Australia and was also transferred overseas.

From Banking To Barista

On his return to Australia, he had a career change. He bought the ‘Rabbit’ cafe, as it is affectionately known locally, around six years ago.

His daughter, Alice, also works in the business, having been trained as a chef in Scotland.

Everything at the ‘Rabbit’ cafe is made on the premises. 

It was quite a change from banking!

Peter said the hardest thing, initially, were the issues around staffing.

Knowing when the cafe would be busy for example, was a problem he overcame.

Covid challenged the dynamic duo’s business. They prepared a lot of takeaway and also delivered meals.

Peter’s wife, Julie, relocated her vintage and gift shop to the cafe.

MKR

However, you may remember Peter and Alice from the  t.v. series, ‘My Kitchen Rules’.  

Peter said the experience was a lot of fun.  They enjoyed meeting the other contestants and crew.

And. It was a huge surprise to find Nigella Lawson on their doorstep one night!

Where to next?’, I asked Peter.  

Well, maybe not the t.v. series ‘Goggle Box’ or ‘Travel Guides’, he replied with a laugh.

For the moment this central Victoria town has the lifestyle and community many people yearn for.

Castlemaine: it’s the lifestyle!

*Cover Photo and Photo at top is of a scene in Castlemaine, from Melody Ayres-Griffiths

Jill Weeks has been an educator and author for many years. She is the author of 21 Ways To Retire, which gives insights into how 21 Australians from different backgrounds adjusted to retirement. She is also the co-author with her husband, Owen, of several editions of Where To Retire In Australia and one of Retire Bizzi.

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