Maldon is around 135km from Melbourne CBD and can be reached via Calder Freeway. Tourism brochures describe Maldon as the most instagramable town in Australia, picture perfect with an intact goldrush streetscape that has scooped bundle of awards for preservation. Visiting the town is like going back into time. The town has an annual Easter Fair which includes events such as billy-cart racing, dancing in the street, the Great Aussie Scone Bake, a cemetery walk and the lighting of the Mount Tarrangower tower. The Maldon Folk Festival has been held annually since 1974. In 1965, National Trust of Australia gave Maldon the title of “Notable Town” for its historic character.
In 1836, Major Thomas Mitchell on his return journey from Portland to Sydney after the exploration of the country he called the ‘Australia Felix’, passed south of Mt Tarrengower. Maldon historian George Mc Arthur claimed he found the initials of Major Mitchell carved on a tree in Nuggetty Ranges, which strengthen the belief that he passed through Maldon.
A settlement was established on the Loddon River near Mt Tarrangower in 1841, and pastoralists began settling in the area. Land was taken up in 1839 by Lachlan MacKinnon, who called his run ‘Tarringower’. Pastoral run licenses were issued for Cairn Curran Property in 1840 and Tarrrengower property in 1842. Cairn Curran pastoral run was later held by Bryant family and the area became known as Bryants Ranges.
From the Tarrengower pastoral run, the mount nearby was called Mt Tarrengower and the region was also first called as Tarrangower. After the discovery of Gold, Surveyor John Templeton was commissioned to select a site for a township. Initial work was completed by John Templeton by 1854, but detailed survey was carried by Adair in 1856. Adair is credited with renaming the township as Maldon after a town in Essex in England. But the township was known as Tarrangower until the municipality of Maldon was proclaimed in August 1858. In 1859, a provision was made for a direct representative from Maldon to the legislative assembly. The population of Maldon reached a peak of 3667 in 1901. But the mining activities began its decline in the 1920’s and by 1933, the town’s population has declined to 723.
Gold was first found in Cairn Curran property in 1853 by Captain John Mechosk, a German prospector. Diggers started flowing to Maldon in no time. “The Colonial Mining Journal” on 4th August 1859 has reported that alluvial mining in the area has made considerable addition to the population of the area, after 100-ounce nugget was found at Sandy Creek area. A very large influx of Chinese has taken place. The presence of Chinese were considered as a big nuisance by the white population. Apart from digging, these Chinese nationals engaged in thieving and gambling. The law required Chinamen to be segregated and to carry a residence license.
Sensational discoveries followed in quick succession- Eagle Hawk, Bell’s Reef and the Beehive in 1854; German, Nuggetty , Victoria and Lisle’s Reefs in 1855; Linscott’s and Parkin ’s Reefs in1856, and many others of lesser value.
The Chimney of Beehive mining company still stands close to the township. The Chimney was designed by D.R. Drape, who was also the architect for the hospital and other buildings in Maldon. The Beehive assembled a large plant which on its elevated position close to the town formed a prominent landmark on those days. Beehive is a peculiar name for a mining company but there is a story behind how it got the name. One day men working in the shaft came up for a break and they noticed a swarm of bees on a post. Up to that time, the mine had not been named. One of the miners said, “we will call the mine The Beehive”, and aptly named it.
Gold yields of Maldon were petering out by the end of World War I, with mines began to close. People started leaving the town for greener pastures, but the town survived on a population of around 1000 people. In 1965, National Trust of Australia gave Maldon the title of “Notable Town” for its historic character. The town is now protected and new constructions and renovations requiring approval from strict planning controls enforced.
What to see in Maldon
2.7km south of Maldon, the tunnel is driven through solid rock in search of Gold by the Great International Quartz Mining Company between 1882 and 1884. It is locally known as Carmen’s Tunnel from the Gully in which it is located. The 570m long tunnel is dry, clean and spacious. It is level and easily accessible for all age groups and is wheel chair friendly.
Tunnel tours are organised on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and school holidays. Closed on Christmas day, Boxing day and Good Friday. Each tour takes thirty to forty minutes.
Victorian Goldfields Railway
The authentic Steam Railway linking historic Castlemaine and Maldon.
For detailed information and timings visit www.vgr.com.au
North British Mine
The remains of the North British Mine can be seen on Parkins Reef Road Opposite Carman’s tunnel. In the 1880’s North British Mine was described as one of the richest in the world and it was owned by one man, Robert Dent Oswald.
Maldon General Cemetery
History buffs may be interested in visiting Maldon General Cemetery. Cemetery’s main gates were erected in 1890 and remained in their original state until they were repainted and re hung in 1990. The original caretaker’s cottage which was built in 1866 is still intact. The Cemetery’s first interments were recorded from 1854. The Chinese who came to Maldon Goldfields purchased a separate section towards the back of the cemetery. The burning tower was used to cook sacrificial meats which were then eaten as part of the funeral ceremony.
There are many historic churches in Maldon built in 1800’s.
Wesleyan Church and Parsonage, Fountain Street – This is the earliest church building still intact in Maldon. Halls built 1855 and 1861. Church in 1863
Holy Trinity Anglican Church – High Street – Constructed in 1861 from local stone from the Bowes Quarry owned by uncles of Jessie Bowe. This is the largest stone building in town
Baptist Church – Cnr Edward and Templeton Streets. Constructed in brick in 1896
Welsh Baptist Church – Cnr Francis and Templeton Streets – Currently privately owned. It was constructed in 1865 by Welsh Baptists.
Welsh Congressional – Cnr Camp and Church Streets. The building was constructed in 1863.
Maldon Lookout tower
By the end of 1920’s most of the Gold mining companies closed their doors. The Advance Maldon Association was seeking an idea to bring visitors back to the town in 1923 and erected a lookout tower. A suitable tower was identified at Comet mine in Bendigo, dismantled and brought to Maldon. The tower was officially opened on 26th January 1924.The top level of the tower is now used for fire spotting, but the lower levels are open to public. To reach the tower, drive north along High St, and turn left at Mt Tarrengower Rd.
The museum was first opened to public in 1966
Open: Each Saturday 1:30pm to 4:00pm and second Sunday of month 10:30am to 2:00pm
Entry Fee: Adults $5, Children free, Groups by arrangement
Location: Old Shire Hall (south entrance), Maldon Gardens, 93 High Street
Hours: Fridays 10:00am to 2:00pm (except Good Friday), other times by appointment
Entry Fee: Entry is free however a research fee applies for work done
Old Shire Hall (east entrance), Maldon Gardens, 93 High Street
Maldon Visitor information Centre, Shire Gardens, 93 High Street, Maldon, VIC 3463