Top 8 Things to Do in Castlemaine and Maldon with Kids

Castlemaine and Maldon have almost become outer-outer suburbs of Melbourne, what with all the tree-changers moving to these pretty Central Victorian towns. This part of the historic Goldfields region is a great place for a mini-break as it’s less than 90 minutes north west of Melbourne and conveniently accessed by road and rail.


Here are our family-friendly tips on Castlemaine and Maldon.

Things to do in Castlemaine

  1. Victorian Goldfields Railway

Lady AB is a Thomas the Tank Engine fan and is most excited to go on this chugg-chugg locomotive. Normally the first and excursion class wooden carriages are pulled by a steam engine but there is a high fire danger alert on our visit so a diesel engine is used instead.

Victorian Goldfields Railway

The trip from Castlemaine to Maldon takes 45 minutes and rattles through Ironbark forest – a dry crackling and frankly not very interesting landscape in the height of summer. At $25 for adults (under 4s free) it’s not a cheap ride but if you can get someone to meet you in a car at Maldon it’s a fun one-way trip back in time, down to the old-fashioned tickets!

For a limited time, Deals.com.au is offering a deal for discounted Victorian Goldfields Railway tickets. A family ticket is $45, which is 59% off, and single adult and child tickets are available at discounted rates too. It’s valid until 13 July 2020. BUY Victorian Goldfields Railway discounted tickets.

Victorian Goldfields Railway

Maldon is worth visiting as it’s Australia’s first and only National Trust classified town.

2. Maldon Market

Every second Saturday of the month the Maldon Market is held next to The Kangaroo Hotel. It features local produce, home made food and handcrafts. We visit on a super hot day and buy woolly hats!

3. Soldier and Scholar

Soldier and Scholar (215 Barker St, Castlemaine

This rabbit warren of a secondhand bookstore has a good collection of kids books in the narrow entrance corridor and front room. It’s a very tight squeeze though so you won’t be able to get inside with a pram or swing a big bag around. It’s a very idiosyncratic little shop – on our visit there wasn’t much in the way of customer service and the books are piled higgledy-piggledy on shelves and the floor so it can feel suffocating. We were only in there for 5 minutes but bought 3 books for a bargain $10.50 – The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Peter Rabbit’s ABC.

Soldier and Scholar, 215 Barker St, Castlemaine (03) 5470 6298

4. Mount of Alex

A more orderly book-buying experience can be found at Mount of Alex which specialises in rare books. However, they still stock interesting secondhand books and I purchased JRR Tolkein’s ‘Father Christmas Letters’ for $10.

Mount of Alex 273 Barker St, Castlemaine 0410 650 923

Find Hotels and Airbnbs near Castlemaine and Maldon

Where to eat in Castlemaine

5. Mulberry’s Delicatessen

When we go on holidays we’ve figured out that the kids can really only manage one dining-out event a day with good grace. So to make our lives easier we normally eat out at lunch and eat in at dinner time. At Mulberry’s Delicatessen, you can buy cheese and charcuterie, gourmet frozen pasta and sauce and even Jock’s ice cream.


Our favourite find is Bella’s read-to-bake frozen croissants. For a bargain $7.95 you defrost the croissants overnight, letting them expand, and then you have 6 giant croissants after 15 minutes in the oven (or $6 for 6 small croissants). We have our flaky, buttery croissants with some plum and blueberry jam kindly provided by Berkeley St Townhouse.

Mulberry’s Delicatessen, 60 Lyttleton St, Castlemaine (03) 5472 1651

6. Johnny Baker 

Apple Annie's (31 Templeton St, Castlemaine

Highlights from this bakery include Spinach and Ricotta Rolls and Beef and Burgundy pie, cheesecake and very rich Belgian chocolate torte.

Johnny Baker, 359 Barker Street, Castlemaine, Victoria, (03) 5470 5695

7. The Kangaroo Hotel

We only spend a brief time in Maldon to have lunch at the historic Kangaroo Hotel. If you’re riding the Victorian Goldfields Railway (see below) you can even order your meal in advance so it’s waiting for you when you reach the pub.

The Kangaroo Hotel (89 High St, Maldon

They have a high chair and kids menu plus a huge back beer garden for running around. As for the food, our whitebait ($12) and fish and chips ($20) were pretty good but not best we’ve ever had. Next time we visit Maldon we’d probably try somewhere else for a change.

The Kangaroo Hotel (89 High St, Maldon

The Kangaroo Hotel, 89 High St, Maldon (03) 5475 2214

Where to stay in Castlemaine

For accommodation options in Castlemaine and Maldon, I recommend researching on Stayz or Airbnb.

8. Berkeley St Townhouse

Berkeley St Townhouse (112 Berkeley St, Castlemaine)

In Castlemaine, we find this 3 bedroom house through Stayz for a very reasonable $195 per night.

The townhouse is a spacious split level space, with the lower level accessed from the carport/small back courtyard into a fully equipped kitchen, dining/sitting area, laundry, toilet and shower in the lower level. The second level is accessible from the front door with a formal lounge with TV, DVDs, games and a fireplace leading to the master bedroom with ensuite. This layout means that after the kids went to sleep we can still relax in the lounge room or get into the kitchen without having to tiptoe around.

We put the kids to sleep inathe top level, which has a bedroom at each end with a bathroom and toilet in between. It’s a perfect kids space – the bedrooms are both big enough to put in cots (they provided a portacot and high chair for us) and the bathroom has a low bath big enough for two little kids. They even provide a screw-in childproof gate so we can cordon off the stairs and just let the kids roam freely up and down the corridor.

We visit Castlemaine during a heatwave and the whole house has evaporative cooling, making it a pleasant retreat from the baking sun.

The house is located just on the outskirts of the town’s commercial centre but is within very easy walking distance of all the shops and the railway station.

Berkeley St Townhouse 1/12 Berkeley St, Castlemaine

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About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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