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Published June 27th 2020
Has Australia's first notable town been forgotten?
With domestic and regional travel on everyone's mind at the moment, we recently decided to re-visit a town nestled half way between Melbourne and Bendigo, a town called Maldon.
Church Conversion Sunday House
Maldon has preserved its gold-mining era and pioneer-like appearance and when you visit you can understand why it was declared Australia's first notable town in 1966 by the National Trust of Australia.
Maldon feels like Sovereign Hill but without the crowds. The town and the people were pure magic and I felt immersed in the history as we roamed the heritage-listed town and meandered down side streets collecting Autumn leaves and dreaming of living in one of the beautifully restored miners cottages.
Grand Hotel Tobin St Maldon
I had never heard of Maldon until we visited by accident in February. Upon discovering our little secret, I decided to share it when we returned to Melbourne. I started talking to friends and family about this quaint town. My friends had no knowledge of the town, my siblings had vague recollections of hearing about the town and anyone younger than us had definitely never heard of Maldon. But the Baby Boomers had all heard of it and had some fantastic stories and memories to share.
This got me thinking, are we too quick-paced to envision our next fancy holiday that our small towns are getting forgotten about, do we think visiting historic places are not of interest to our children anymore, do they want water parks, video games and more more more?
Upon our second visit to Maldon in mid-June with my two small children in tow, I can clearly see 'more, more, more' is definitely not what the children need.
We stayed on the edge of town at Miss Pyms Cottage booked through Jamie at Maldon Getaways. Family together time was the focus of the weekend and we had a fulfilling experience as did the other families we bumped into around town that weekend.
Friday night was spent at The Kangaroo Hotel, recently bought by two sisters with a vision to support and supply all local goods. Their grand opening was interrupted by the Covid-19 shutdown but the sisters' positivity is a small slice of what this town has to offer.
James Dean Look in Your Eye
Early Saturday morning on our morning walk to the Maldon Providore for hot chocolate and coffee, we saw kangaroos leaping down the street back to their hillside sanctuary where they seemed to keep watch and follow from afar.
Street Art in Maldon
Inspired by Elle Baillieu and the team at Empty Esky campaign, we had our orange travelling esky on hand and on Saturday we filled it with meat from the local butcher.
As we waited our turn to go into the traditional Maldon Lolly Shop, two teenagers before us had grins from ear to ear with their purchases, their mum called out across the road "what did you get today?"
A home-delivered meal of lamb shanks from Le Sel was our early Saturday night dinner by the cottage fire.
A drive home via Daylesford was an absolute must, but as we drove through the town at a snail's pace because of traffic, we looked at the queues to cafes and restaurants and realised how lucky we were to have found Maldon and experience an authentic gold mining town but without the excessive crowds.
Maldon recently received a street grant to preserve more of the pioneer appearance by relocating the power lines to under road cables. This, in turn, will hopefully attract movie makers like the creators of the 2007 film Romulus, My Father, many of the location shots were filmed in Maldon, Eric Bana probably visited the Lolly Shop too. The wide main street of Maldon will be a perfect setting to tell stories of long ago. Imagine being an extra in a locally made movie, and seeing yourself on the big screen; an experience more memorable than the hour-long queue for the five-second water slide ride.
A handful of empty shops are noticeable in Maldon, empty spaces ideal for anyone with a small business needing a tree change. The streets were busy with locals and visitors, cafes were operating at a steady pace, there was a buzz about town with people ready to spend.
A fine dining restaurant would be the icing on the cake, I would have organised a babysitter and enjoyed a night out with my dear husband and a somewhat mature conversation. Maybe next time we visit, a Masterchef like Poh Ling Yeow will have taken up residence. Fingers crossed.
I love MALDON but is frustrating to get there when you don't drive. Train from Melb doesn't go all the way, and the lovely restored vintage train is run by volunteers who do not get paid, and run a restrictive timetable. Wish silly State govt would put our trains back so we can enjoy our own country! Instead of murdering trees, destroying once glorious Melbourne and digging giant holes for unnecessary, hideously expensive, ultra ugly city stations.
Spot on. I've stayed in Maldon twice. Once in autumn which was glorious with the rich colours on the trees and the drifts of leaves everywhere. I liked the quiet, authentic historic feel of the place so much I started looking at real estate there for a tree change! If you like experiencing what country Australia was once like, you'll love it!