I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published June 7th 2012
Maldon, a gold rush time-capsule, was declared Australia's first 'Notable Town' by the National Trust in 1966 and awarded the title of "most intact historic streetscape in Victoria' in 2006.
The first Europeans to visit the district were members of Major Thomas Mitchell's expedition in 1836. Mitchell was followed by squatters who arrived in the area in 1840 and subsequently established two sheep runs.
In 1853, as gold fever swept the colony, a German prospector named John Mechosk found gold on one of those properties, Cairn Curran, located at the foot of Mount Tarrengower. The resultant goldfield was named 'Tarrengower Fields' and within a month 3000 diggers had arrived.
Forget the cars and other modern trimmings, a stroll down Maldon's main street is like stepping back into the 19th Century.
A Post Office opened in March 1854 and by 1856, with a population estimated to be between eighteen and twenty thousand, the settlement was surveyed and named Maldon after the village of the same name in Essex, England.
In the decade 1861 to 1871 Maldon was Victoria's eighth largest town with a population in excess of 3000 and supporting twice that number of miners in the surrounding district.
As with most of the Victorian gold fields Maldon's alluvial deposits diminished not long after the initial rush and miners were forced to dig deep shafts as they sought the rich quartz reefs. Maldon proved to be one of the richest quartz regions in the whole of Victoria with more than seventy reefs giving up good deposits.
These quartz kilns survive on the site of Maldon's North British Mine.
With the move to deep-lead mining many diggers moved on and by 1891 Maldon's population had dropped to 1600. Mining continued in various forms throughout the district for many years and the last mine of real significance, the North British, closed in 1926.
The chimney stack from the Beehive Mine stands as testimony to Maldon's place in Australia's goldrush history.
Today the township boasts a permanent population of about 1000 and relies heavily on the tourist trade for its continued existence.
The majority of businesses go to great lengths to retain their colonial appearance and lend a genuine 19th Century air to the town, ensuring that Maldon continues to be recognised as Victoria's best preserved gold rush town.
Maldon is also home to the Tarrangower Times newspaper, first published in 1858 and holding a unique place in Victorian history as the longest continuously published newspaper in the State – a true piece of living history.
Home to the Goldfields Railway Maldon compliments its gold rush history by offering visitors a range of accommodation options, restaurants and tea-rooms.
Maldon Station is home to the historic Goldfields Railway which runs regular steam train trips to Muckleford and return.