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Castlemaine

(4.1/5 based on 480+ reviews for top 10 attractions)
Things to do: museums, parks, shopping
Castlemaine is a small city in Victoria, Australia, in the goldfields region of Victoria about 120 kilometres northwest by road from Melbourne and about 40 kilometres from the major provincial centre of Bendigo. It is the administrative and economic centre of the Shire of Mount Alexander. The population at the 2011 Census was 6,751.It was named by the chief goldfield commissioner, Captain W. Wright, in honour of his Irish uncle, Viscount Castlemaine.Castlemaine began as a gold rush boomtown in 1851 and developed into a major regional centre, being officially proclaimed a City on 4 December 1965, although since declining in population.It is home to many cultural institutions including the Theatre Royal, the oldest continuously operating theatre in mainland Australia.HistoryToponomyThe first European settlers named it Forest Creek and as the population grew it became known as Mount Alexander. The old name is still present in some place names in Victoria including the Shire of Mount Alexander and the former main road leading to it from Melbourne – Mount Alexander Road and several local institutions such the hospital and sports clubs.In 1854, Chief goldfields commissioner, Captain W. Wright, renamed the settlement to Castlemaine in honour of his Irish uncle, Viscount Castlemaine.Indigenous backgroundCastlemaine exists on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, also known as the Jaara people. They were regarded by other tribes as being a superior people, not only because of their rich hunting grounds but because from their area came a greenstone rock for their stone axes. Early Europeans described the Dja Dja Wrung as a strong, physically well-developed people and not belligerent. Nevertheless the early years of European settlement in the Mount Alexander area were bloodied by clashes between intruder and dispossessed.
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