The first Victoria goldrush town to be classified by the National Trust
Maldon was the first Victorian town to be classified by the National Trust. This occurred in 1966 and reflects the town's remarkably well-preserved historic streetscape with its wide verandas, flagstone paving, old-fashioned shop fronts, quaint cottages with attractive gardens, and its many stone buildings erected during the goldmining era. The town's genuinely historic feel is quite overwhelming. There is an absence of ostentation and many of the shops reinforce the charm and historical appeal of their exteriors with interiors that have a nineteenth century allure. Not surprisingly Maldon has become a popular tourist destination although some critics regard the tourist orientation as the 'commodification of heritage'. It is really too well preserved, and too charming, for those naysayers to be correct. Where else in Australia would you find a supermarket (the local IGA) in a store built in 1859?
Maldon is located 145 km north-west of Melbourne via the M79. It is 359 metres above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
The settlement was initially known as Tarrangower. A townsite was surveyed in 1854 but the location was rejected and ignored by locals. Consequently the de facto township established by the diggers was surveyed in 1856. It was named Maldon after Maldon in Essex, England.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Exploring Maldon - Historic CBD Walk
The best way to experience Maldon is to walk up and down High Street and Main Street. There is a useful brochure (available at the Visitor Information Centre) and it can be downloaded at https://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/maldon-historic-cbd-walk#.YCHM6ZMzZBw. There are so many significant historic houses and shops in Maldon that the Historic CBD Walk is a suitable taster. This is a town that needs to be savoured. So much to see. So much to enjoy. Here are some of those interesting places.
Start at the Visitor Information Centre and walk up Main Street. The building near the corner, with a rusty corrugated iron roof over a street veranda, is marked "Affordable Accommodation". It was originally -
2. Treadwell & Stone's Smithy - it was built in 1858 and over the years has been a farrier, smithy, wheelwright, carpenter and auction rooms. It has been modified in recent times.
3. McMillan & Padley's Ironmongery - this modest duo of shops, which now operates as Peppercorn Books and Leckie Gallery, was originally an ironmongery when it was built in 1858. The ironmonger sold garden and farm equipment as well as kitchen utensils. Over the years it has been a tailor, tobacconist and hairdresser.
4. Former Dabb's Store - this building has been a general store since 1885. It is now the local IGA supermarket. It was built around 1858 and changed hands a number of times before it was bought by Dabb & Co. Note the attractive timber facade on the veranda.
5. Butcher's Shop - This building was completed in 1936. It replaced a small timber building which had a number of different functions but had been Chisholm's Butchery since around 1900.
7. Tarrangower Times Office - this modest building, now the Maldon Pharmacy, was built in 1861 and became a hairdresser until 1869 when it was occupied by a music store. The Tarrangower Times occupied the building in the 1930s and in 1975, when the town was used as a setting for the movie Break of Day, the facade was altered.
8. Calder's Ironmongery - located on the corner of Main Street and Dolphin Street it operated as an ironmongery (a hardware store where goods, originally made from iron, were sold for domestic use - kitchen utensils and gardening equipment). It opened in 1866 and is now known as Calder's Cottage and Garden.
9. McArthur's Bakery - located on the corner of Main Street and Dolphin Street there was a building here as early as 1857 which operated as a bakery. The bakery continued until the 1930s although this building was constructed in 1895. There is another bakery, possibly an older building, just a few shops up the road.
10. Phoenix Buildings - located on the corner of Main Street and Templeton Street, this handsome building was constructed by a local draper, James Trengrove, in 1907
11. Scotch Pie House - located on the corner of Main Street and Templeton Street, this was originally a hay and corn store. It had been built in 1856. It burnt down in 1866 and was replaced by a Scotch Pie House with the veranda being added in the early years of the 20th century.
12. Franklin's Building - heading back down the hill this is on the corner of Main Street and Vincents Road and dates from 1870. It was built by Catherine Dabb (the Dabb name appears on the building). By 1875 it was Dabb's Corn & Chaff Store. Note the strange mix of material with unplastered stone and a plastered facade above the veranda.
13. Wearne's Building - is a strange, narrow, two storey structure which was built in 1895 and used as a chemist's shop.
14. Farr's Building - it has a large sign above the awning which reads "ACCOMMODATION". It was built in 1860 and by 1875 was the shop for Albert Honneus, a gold dealer and jeweller. It was subsequently used as a doctor's and dentist's surgery until 1939.
15. Shakespeare House - built in 1907. The original building operated as a hotel between 1864 and 1910. Note: it is marked as an "Art Gallery" above the awning and the posts have intricate ironwork which has remained intact.
16 & 17. Maldon Hotel and Stables - the stables, once a wooden building, stood beside the hotel. There was a hotel in this location from as early as 1861. It was weatherboard. The present building was constructed in 1909 and named Maldon Hotel. It is characterised by delicate veranda lacework and slender cast-iron posts.
18. Tobin's Building - this building now includes the town's newsagent and a series of shops. Tobin was a draper and silk merchant. The building was constructed in 1912 and the facade is Art Nouveau. Note also the pressed metal and the green tiles. Behind the shop fronts there were apartments.
19. Swann's Building - now a cafe and a Jeans Shop. The original building was constructed in 1857 but was demolished and replaced by a number of shops which, over the years, have included a hairdresser, jeweller, stationer, tailor and a Mines & Supply Rates Office.
20. Upton's Butcher Shop - the sign above the awning says Upton & Co Butchers est. 1857. The awning was constructed in 1860 and the business was still operating in 1900. The narrow laneway beside the building still has the sign "Ray's Stables - Livery & Letting".
21. Dabb's Produce Store - the sign above the awning reads "Wheel & Loom". The building dates from 1868. The previous building was taken over by a hay and household goods shop run by Samuel Dabb.
22. Former Albion Hotel - this small two storey hotel was built in 1886 and designed by Thomas Kebble. The first building on this site was a timber structure named the Maldon Larder. It caught fire. Then in 1866 a new brick building was constructed. It was named the Albion Hotel and remained a hotel until 1888. After that it was purchased by the London Chartered Bank and eventually became the State Savings Bank of Victoria.
23. Berryman's Cafe and Tea Rooms - were built in 1895. Previously this site had been a bowling alley with a bar, sittiing rooms, bedrooms, a kitchen and bagatelle rooms. Berryman used the new building for his bootmaking business which he operated until 1948.
24. Goldsmith's Building - note the remarkable iron frame veranda. This long building was completed in 1897 on a site which had previously been the Criterion Drapery Warehouse which was opened in 1864 and destroyed by fire in 1891. Note also the elaborate facade above the awning.
25. Miss Hockey's Shop - a tiny shop which was purchased by Louisa Hockey. It was completed in 1912.
26. Mathews Plumber - now the Maldon Take Away this building was completed in 1920 and replaced Mathews Plumber which had operated from 1864 until it was damaged by fire around 1895. The subsequent, two storey building was replaced by the current building in 1920.
27. Mohr's Hairdressing - this building was completed in 1870. By 1875 it had been purchased by Conrad Mohr who operated as a hairdresser until 1890. After that it remained a barber's shop until the 1940s.
28. McFarlane's Drapery - this building was completed in 1870 although the Drapery was operating from 1863 and continued, with the McFarlane family, until 1946.
29. Grand Hotel - located at 28 High Street, the Grand Hotel was opened in 1858 and known as Britannia House. It became the Grand Hotel in 1888 when the local mining magnate, Robert Dent Oswald, had this building constructed. It features some elaborate arches, pilasters and balusters.
30. Royal Hotel - The former Royal Hotel was built as a concert hall in 1857 and extended in 1862 when it became the hotel. It remained a hotel until 1930. In 1975 it was used as a setting in the film Break of Day. All that was required for the film set was to cover the streets in dirt and Maldon furnished a plausible 19th-century setting. It was reopened in 1998.
31. Tarrangower Times Office - a wonderful demonstration of how careful the locals have been to retain the appearance of a 19th century town. The Tarrangower Times Office burnt down in 1929. This building was constructed in 1992. Would you know?
32. Gray's House - located on the corner of High Street and Tobin Street (2-6 High Street), Gray's House was built in 1869 by William Blair Gray, a mine owner and member of the Victorian Parliament. When it was sold in 2013 the real estate agent described it as "Built over two levels on bluestone foundations with excellent rear access, the property has a substantial and wonderful north facing English country garden which is enjoyed by meandering through or from the long northern return veranda giving a lovely overview. The home offers four bedrooms, three with ensuites, formal dining and living room with ornate detail and small service kitchen upstairs. Downstairs there is a delightful and well appointed country kitchen, family room, meals/living area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and study." Now cross the road and return towards the centre of town.
33. Moore's Coach Factory - located on the corner of Spring Street and High Street, this was originally a blacksmith's shop which became a Coach Shop and Factory until the 1930s. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1982.
34. Langlows Building - located on the corner of Spring Street and High Street, this was the site of two early gold-era hotels - the British & American Hotel and the Exchange Hotel.
35. Warnock's Flour Mills - located between Langlows and the Freemasons Hall is the site where James and Samuel Warnock built a flour mill. It was converted to shops in 1900.
36. Freemasons Hall - this was originally part of Warnock's Beehive Store. It was built in 1868 with the facade being added in 1908. Although it looks historic, the Masons didn't occupy the building until the mid-1980s.
37. Warnock's Beehive Store - located at 51-57 High Street, and now named Robert Cox Motors, this was a four-shop complex which was built in 1858. "The building was remarkable because of the early plate glass, verandahs and cedar framing. It still retains its basic form shop fronts, stall boards and ceiling. The Tarrangower Times described the store of "leviathan proportions", both for size (4 large departments) and importance. Warnock's erected a building at the rear to accommodate 25 employees for their flour mill. They also had a branch at Eaglehawk (Maldon) and Melbourne. Dabb & Co were their greatest rivals."
38. Bank of New South Wales - this charming little bullding was constructed in 1858. By 1864 it had been altered and a residence had been built. In 1866 a smelting house was constructed which continued to be used until it was demolished in 1936.
39. Carriers Arms Hotel - located at 61-65 High Street and built as a hotel in 1857 it operated until 1864 when it changed function. It remains largely intact and is now the local Lions Op Shop. It was, for many years, the principal coaching office in the town.
40. Hornsby's Buildings - these shops date from around 1900. Over the years they have been considerably altered.
41. Argyle House - built around 1866 it was used for a time as a local auction house.
44. Kangaroo Hotel - located on the corner of High Street and Fountain Street is the single storey Kangaroo Hotel which dates from 1856. It started as a tent on the goldfields and, over time, has been the town morgue, a butcher's shop, a doctor's surgery, a theatre and it was once a staging post for Cobb & Co coaches. It is reputedly the only hotel in Australia named 'Kangaroo". That completes the Historic CBD Walk but if you keep walking up High Street you will reach the local Post Office.
Other Places of Interest
Located at 95 High Street is the old post office (1870) which, from 1880-1886, was the childhood home of noted Australian novelist Henry Handel Richardson. Her mother was the postmistress. Richardson's autobiography Myself When Young (1950) recounts her time in Maldon with great affection. There is a plaque on the building. For more information see https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/arts/display/32069-henry-handel-richardson.
Located at 9 High Street, Lauriston House was built in 1866 for local mining magnate Robert Dent Oswald. With its Malmsbury bluestone and elaborate timber veranda fretwork it was regarded as the town's finest building at the time of its construction. When recently offered for private sale the real estate agent described it as: "Today the property is almost fully intact and comprises a grand formal entry with a hedge, wrought iron fence, central pathway, brick walled garden and a number of old fashioned fruit trees. The home has a wide veranda with distinctive arched timber fretwork and tuck pointed stone work. The home has a grand arched hallway, 4 main rooms, ornate timber windows/shutters, marble surround fireplaces, and 4 panelled doors. There is a rear vestibule, farmhouse kitchen with pantry, two small maids rooms, a bathroom, slate flagstone courtyard, an old well, cellar and outdoor wash house. A large meandering garden backs onto State Forest/Anzac Hill, and includes a garage, and a number of shade and fruit trees." It is listed in the Victorian Heritage Database. Check out https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/69208.
Museum and Courthouse
Located at the Old Shire Hall, 93 High Street is the Maldon Museum. It has mining photographs and equipment, domestic memorabilia, and archives. It is located in a mellow-toned brick building erected in 1859 as a Market House. It became the shire offices in 1865. The hammerbeam arches were added to correct the buckling walls in 1871. It is open Wednesdays 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm; Saturdays 1.30 pm - 4.00 pm and the second Sunday of the month 10.30 am - 2.00 pm. Behind the museum is the old fire station (1870) and on the other side of the adjacent football oval is the former Courthouse (1861). See https://maldonmuseum.com.au for more information.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Located at 50 High Street, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church (1861-1889) is a Gothic Revival ragstone structure which "was designed in Early English gothic style by David Relph Drape and built from local schist with granite dressings. The nave was opened in 1861 and the building progressively enlarged until 1889. It consists of a nave, chancel, western porch, organ chamber and vestry. The interior is of particular note for the splendid east window dating from 1864, the work of accomplished artist John Lyon; other windows include the signed work of William Montgomery." See https://www.ohta.org.au/organs/organs/Maldon.html for more details.
Maldon District Hospital
Located at 1 Chapel Street, the Maldon District Hospital is listed by the Victorian Heritage Register (http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/result_detail/671). It was built as a one-storey Classical Revival structure in 1860 with the female ward being added in 1862. "These were both designed by the architect DR Drape who had a master plan for the building including a central two storey building ... the central double storey section was erected in April 1867 to the designs of TF Kibble. This was originally face brickwork and all three sections had single storey verandahs around them with the whole complex surrounded by a picket fence. The original face brickwork structure was given its present elaborate render decoration when the verandahs were removed and ground floor facades plastered and pilasters, urns and the front entrance portico added. Both of the side wings of the hospital were extended in 1897. Other buildings on the site include the Gray/McIntyre Ward (1897), the Morgue and the Isolation Ward (1892) which is situated approximately sixty metres from the main hospital buildings."
Located off Anzac Hill Road, which lies to the south of Maldon, Anzac Hill provides excellent views of the township and the Grampians, Mount Franklin and Mount Macedon . You can walk or drive to the summit. The walk starts in Spring Street and is about 2.4 km up the hill. Apart from the panoramic view the lookout and the hill feature an Avenue of Honour, war memorial, restored Turkish gun (it is German made and was used against Australian troops at Gallipoli - although there is some dispute about this) and a walking track. The Monument Australia website notes: "ANZAC Hill commemorates those who died in service or were killed in action during World War One. Early in 1916, the community of Maldon decided to erect a memorial to honour the Maldon men who had died in service or were killed in action, and the plan was formed to establish ANZAC Hill. Two avenues and a double circle of trees were planted on the Hill, with the trees being donated by the people of Maldon and planted by volunteers." See https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/disaster/display/32073-anzac-hill/photo/1 for more details.
Other Attractions in the Area
Maldon Historic Reserve
The Maldon Historic Reserve is located in and around Maldon. It covers around 2500 ha of public land and forest and was specifically created to preserve the area's historic goldmining relics, including old abandoned mineshafts and tunnels, abandoned equipment (notably the dredge on the road to Bendigo at Porcupine Flat), mullock and tailing heaps, dams, tracks, kilns, cyanide vats and stone walls. The box and ironbark forests are regrowth projects as the original woodlands were destroyed by goldmining and farming activities. Bushwalking, forest drives, wildflowers and fossicking are all part of the attractions of the reserve.
There is a path up to the 30 metre Beehive Chimney from Vincent Street. The chimney was completed in 1863 and, today, is the only one still standing in Victoria. It provided a draught for the steam boilers at the mine. The Beehive reef was discovered by Cornish miners who named it after a swarm of bees which were, at that moment, settled on a nearby post. The Victoria Heritage Database notes of the chimney and the mine ruins that the " Beehive Reef was opened in 1854 and was mined until 1918. Large-scale mining commenced in 1860, when machinery described as the 'most extensive in the colony' was installed. The 60 horse-power engine powering the machinery was called at the time the 'most powerful employed in mining speculations in Victoria'. The site's towering brick chimney stack, constructed in 1861, has been recognised historically (since 1923) as a monument to Maldon's nineteenthcentury gold mining." See https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/5244 for more details.
North British Mine
Located 2 km south-east from town on Parkins Reef Road is the site where the North British Mine operated until 1926. A walking track leads past numerous ruins including two large stamper batteries and some kilns.
There are numerous signs at the ruins with the main introduction explaining: "Gold was first discovered at Parkin's Reef in 1855, and numerous small claims were soon pegged. The area that was to become the North British Mine was pegged by two prospectors known as Ned and Mick.
By the late 1850s most claims on the reef had been worked down to the water level, and became too expensive to work by small parties. The various claims were amalgamated into the Parkin's Reef Association and the Young Independent Association.
"In the 1860s both claims fell upon difficult times and Robert Dent Oswald was able to buy out disenchanged investors. He renamed the Parkin's Reef Association the North British. Oswald held onto this mine and was rewarded with handsome gold returns in the 1880s.
By 1926 over 225,000 tones of quartz had been crushed with a yield of over 200,000 ounces of gold.
The signage relating to the Quartz Kilns is illuminating: " Calcining (the roasting of quartz in kilns) was an early method of preparing gold bearing rock for crushing. Impurities were burnt off, and the quartz was made more brittle.
"This process was continued at Maldon until about 1900, perhaps ten years longer than at other goldfields. This was partly because of the hardness of Maldon's rock, but some said it was because of local sentiment and conservatism about the kilns.
"Quartz kilns came to be seen as a feature of Maldon, and these are some of the best surviving examples in Victoria.
"Three southern kilns (on the right) were built in 1864 and the northern two were added later. A conspicuous break in the stonework marks their joining.
"The most southerly kiln was partly destroyed in 1913 to construct a rock breaker, which was located over the concrete lined pit."
Carman's Tunnel Goldmine
Just past the North British Mine, at 138 South Parkins Reef Road, is the access point to Carman's Tunnel, a 570 metre, near level, goldmining tunnel which was excavated, largely with pneumatic drills, between 1882 and 1884. Despite the extraordinary effort, returns were minimal. The tunnel was opened to the public in 1964. Tours, which are informative and take about 30 minutes, are led through the dry, clean, spacious, level and easily accessible tunnel on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) at 1.30 pm, 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm, tel: (03) 5471 1795 or check out https://www.bendigoregion.com.au/visit-castlemaine-maldon/carmans-tunnel.
Victorian Goldfields Railway
Leaving from the Maldon railway station in Hornsby Street (1884) the Victorian Goldfields Railway runs steam trains (unless there is a danger of bushfires) between Maldon and Castlemaine every Sunday and Wednesday. See http://www.vgr.com.au/homepage.php for times and bookings.
Gold Dredge and Dragline
Located at Porcupine Flat 3km north of Maldon on the Bendigo-Maldon Road, these huge old pieces of machinery (now rusting) are a reminder that searching for gold, in gold-rich areas like Maldon, never really ends. These are not remnants from the first goldrush. As recently as 1958 George Heywood purchased the dredge. He operated it from about 1973 until 1984. The dragline was purchased from the Yallourn Coal Mine and brought to the area to help with the construction of the dam. See https://www.maldon.org.au/gold-dredge-and-dragline for more information. Check out https://www.hiddenmelbourne.com.au/other-places/maldon-dredge for a view from within the dragline.
Mount Tarrangower and Butts Reserve
Mount Tarrangower (570m) is located 4 km west of town via Mount Tarrengower Road. This was the centre of the gold diggings in the 1850s and it was here that the richest quartz reefs were located. Today there is a panoramic lookout tower, fine picnic areas and walking tracks to Anzac Hill and Fountain Street. The lookout was built in 1923 and is an old poppet head from the Comet Mine in Bendigo. The lower two levels are accessible by the general public and the top level is used as a fire lookout.
Below Mount Tarrengower is Butts Reserve where there are picnic and barbecue facilities. There is detailed information at https://www.goldfieldsguide.com.au/explore-location/121/mt-tarrengower-lookout-tower.
Cairn Curran Reservoir
Located 11.5 km west of Maldon, the Cairn Curran Reservoir, which was constructed between 1947 and 1956 is a large and scenic lake which holds 147,130 ML and covers an area of 1,943 ha. It offers opportunities for a wide range of recreational activities including boating (both power and sailing), skiing, fishing, swimming, wind surfing, jet skiing and canoeing. For more information check out Goulburn-Murray Water at https://www.g-mwater.com.au/water-resources/catchments/storages/loddon/cairncurranreservoir.
Located 4 km north of Maldon at 80 Maldon-Shelbourne Road, Maldon's pioneer cemetery dates back to 1854 although the first graves weren't gazetted until 1861. There have been over 7,000 burials in the cemetery including over 200 Chinese goldminers from the early days of the town. There is a Chinese oven where incense was burned for ceremonial purposes, Chinese headstones, a caretaker's cottage (1866) and a rotunda (1900). For more information check out https://www.maldon.org.au/maldon-general-cemetery which notes: "The surviving Chinese funeral oven was for the burning of offerings to the spirits of the dead (not the bodies). The Pioneer Section of the cemetery is significant in the Central Goldfields. Many miners were buried in unknown or unidentified paupers graves in a separate unmarked section. This section is now recognised by a small brass plaque attached to a tree along the side fence to the right of the entrance."
* Prior to the arrival of the first squatters in 1840 the area was occupied by the Liarga Balug group of the Jarra First Nation people.
* An Aboriginal (now First Nations) station operated near Mount Tarrangower from 1841-1849.
* The town really began when John Mechosk, a German prospector who had already struck gold at Dunolly, Maryborough and Kingower, discovered gold at the foot of Mt Tarrangower in 1853.
* A rush of some 20,000 diggers reached the area within months. They devoted themselves to alluvial mining.
* By the end of 1854 the 20,000 had been reduced to 2000 prospectors and a town had developed around a narrow road.
* A townsite named Tarrangower was surveyed in 1854 but the location was rejected and ignored by locals.
* A de facto township established by the diggers was surveyed in 1856. It was named Maldon after Maldon in Essex, England.
* In 1856 Nuggetty Reef was uncovered to the north of town and companies entered the picture, supplying the capital to unearth the gold-bearing quartz reefs which proved to be among the richest in the country.
* Maldon was incorporated as a municipality in 1858.
* In the 1860s Maldon rivalled Bendigo. It was an important centre for quartz mining.
* In 1864 Maldon was proclaimed a shire.
* By 1870, the gold had begun to dwindle. In the subsequent years mines began to close and the population declined.
* In the 1880s the railway from Castlemaine reached the town.
* The last operating mine was the North British which closed in 1926.
* In 1966 Maldon became the first Victorian town to be classified as a 'Notable Town' by the National Trust.
* The Union Mine was reopened in 1987 to reprocess the tailings.^ TOP
Maldon Visitor Information Centre, 93 High Street. It is open weekdays from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m daily, tel: (03) 5475 2569, 1800 171 888.^ TOP
The official local website can be found at https://www.bendigoregion.com.au/visit-castlemaine-maldon.^ TOP