Maldon is a small town found in Victoria’s Goldfields region. It was named Australia’s First Notable Town in 1966, due to its authentic appearance – it’s been almost perfectly preserved since the goldrush era of the 1850’s.
Find out why you should visit, some things to do in Maldon, Victoria and spend some time drooling over the photos of this gorgeous and certainly most notable town.
As a state, Victoria has been quite good at preserving its architectural history.
Melbourne wasn’t entirely immune from the destruction and demolition that swept Australia in the 1960s, but there are still some pretty amazing old, heritage buildings that remain in the city.
Further afield, you’ll find remnants of the state’s 1850s gold rush era in buildings, streets – even entire towns.
Like Maldon, which is under two hours away from Melbourne.
Its heritage is so well preserved, that it’s known as Australia’s ‘First Notable Town’, a title given to it by the National Trust.
Here are some things to do in Maldon, what makes it notable and why you should visit.
Best things to do in Maldon
Before we launch into what you can get up to in Maldon, let’s find out what a ‘notable’ town is and why this particular place wears this title.
What makes this town “notable”?
First of all – what on earth is a notable town?! What is it about Maldon that makes it so worthy of… notation?!
This classification is handed down by none other than the National Trust, and it was given to Maldon in 1966.
You see, it’s been perfectly preserved since its mining days. There’s a ton of historic buildings, such as the railway station (1884), old post office (1870) and the Grand Hotel (1888).
You’ll find most of the heritage buildings around Main Street, High Street, Camp Street and Church Street. Ogling these gorgeous buildings is one of the best things to do in Maldon.
The historic buildings haven’t been left to rot, either. They’ve been converted into galleries, cafés, restaurants and in particular, antique shops.
So you can wander along a streetscape that looks like it hasn’t changed in over 100 years (try to ignore the very modern looking cars parked alongside the road and driving on through) and have a good shop while you do it.
Maldon Victoria’s history
Before being colonised by European invaders, this region of central Victoria was home to the Liarga Balug, a clan of the Jarra People of the Dja Dja Wurrung language group.
In the late 1830s and 1840s Europeans took over, driving the area’s traditional owners off their land, to use for their own agricultural purposes.
Then, gold was found in the 1850s and everything changed.
The diggers arrived in their thousands and the township of Maldon quickly sprung up, to sustain them. The town itself became a municipality in 1858.
Things began to slowly die down in terms of gold rush activity in the 1870s, however agriculture kicked on, becoming the main economic activity.
Some continued to find wealth in gold, with the last of the early mines closing in 1926.
After this, the town began to decline, not helped by the Great Depression. However, things began coming up Milhouse in Maldon once more in the 1940s, when the population began to rise.
It was in the 1960s that Maldon took a turn for the best. With its historic buildings and streetscapes rediscovered, it was declared ‘Notable’ by the National Trust.
Since then, it’s been the scene of extensive restoration and conservation.
That’s enough of a history lesson. Now let’s discover the best things to do in Maldon.
1. Walk the main streets
Main and High streets are the hot spots for Maldon’s gorgeous architecture.
Stroll along the streets to take in the gold rush-era buildings, shopfronts, signage and more.
2. Visit the local museum
If you’d like to learn more about the town’s history, consider visiting the local museum.
The collection was started in 1966. It contains artefacts, photographs and historical records throughout Maldon’s history.
The Museum is open Wednesday and Saturdays from 11.30am–2pm.
3. Victorian Goldfields Railway
Victoria is home to quite a few cool trains and train-related experiences, such as Puffing Billy in the Dandenong Ranges.
This particular steam train runs between Castlemain and Maldon.
the authentic steam heritage train linking the historic gold mining towns of Castlemaine and Maldon in Central Victoria.
This is one of the best things to do in Maldon with kids. Jump onboard for a family day out, or pump for first class.
There’s even the odd special event, such as watching ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ on the ‘Orient Express’.
The train runs Wednesdays and Sundays and some school and public holidays.
4. Maldon Vintage Machinery Museum
This volunteer-run, free museum is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and the second Sunday of the month.
It showcases vintage agricultural machinery that’s been collected since the early 70s, including the Tarrangower Times printing press.
5. Mount Tarrengower Lookout
Climb to new heights at the Mt Tarrengower Lookout.
This three-level tower was constructed in 1923. The poppet head hails from Comet Mine in Bendigo.
While the topmost level is off-limits, the public are welcome to climb the the first two levels for views of Mt Alexander, Mt Macedon, Mt Franklin and Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park. Basically all the notable mountains of Central Victoria can be ogled at from here.
6. Maldon Dredge & Dragline
If you love the sight of abandoned mines, and machinery rusting and rotting among the elements, well this is one of the things to do in Maldon that may interest you the most.
This dredge and dragline is located at Porcupine Flat. This machinery has been sitting in its present location for around 40 years, abandoned but not (completely) forgotten.
7. Carman’s Tunnel
In 1882, some plucky individuals thought it’d be a great idea to drive a tunnel right through Mt Tarrangower, to make it easier to access the area’s gold.
They gave up after two years and 600 metres. Although it seems like the whole endeavour was a bit of a waste of time, Carman’s Tunnel gives an insight into mining techniques of the 1880s.
You’ll find it around three kilometres south of Maldon.
8. Maldon Market
This monthly market sells just about everything you can imagine – produce, plants, art, jewellery, clothing and more.
It runs from 9am until 1.30pm, every second Sunday or the month.
9. Antique shopping
One of the best things to do in Maldon is poke around the antique stores in town.
You might find a damn good bargain and take home a little piece of history.
I particularly enjoy the Maldon General Store Much Ado, which sells a lot of environmentally-friendly gear.
10. Castlemaine Maldon Rail Trail
This 17.7 kilometre rail trail runs from Castlemaine to Maldon and can be hit with two wheels or two feet.
Bring some snacks to enjoy at Muckleford Railway Station, the halfway point.
If you’re not up to making a return trip, you can climb aboard the Victorian Goldfields Railway (VGR) and ride it back to your starting point.
11. Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park
This park was once home to world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfield.
Most of the gold’s long gone but other riches are available these days, such as bushwalking, cycling, picnics. You can still explore the mining relics and go gold prospecting.
The park is right near The Goldfields Track, a 210 kilometre track for mountain bikers and bushwalkers, which travels through historic towns and beautiful forests.
Where to stay in Maldon
Maldon is near two big regional towns – Bendigo and Castlemaine. If you’re visiting either place and fancy popping into Maldon for a few hours, this is entirely doable.
It’s also around a forty minute drive from Victoria’s spa region of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. This drive is particularly beautiful mid-spring, when all the wildflowers are out!
And for more gold rush era glory, make a stop in the regional city of Ballarat.
Another really picturesque town to explore nearby is Clunes. It’s Australia’s first Book Town and holds an annual book festival every May, a must-do for bibliophiles.
Things to do in Maldon: in conclusion
Maldon, Victoria is certainly worth visiting, even if you just spend an hour wandering around its historic streets.
You might also be interested in these places in Victoria:
- Visiting a castle north west of Melbourne
- The most haunted places in Melbourne
- Walking with llamas to Hanging Rock
- Small towns in Victoria worth visiting