The Accidental Town


Castlemaine owes its existence to the gold rushes of the 1850s and this book recreates its first 10 years.

By Marjorie Theobald.



Castlemaine owes its existence to the alluvial gold rushes which began in 1851 and this book recreates its first tumultuous decade when it was poised between a mining camp and a settled town.

This first decade was rich in characters and egos – young and assertive men and women determined to shape a better way of life. At break-neck speed they shaped the built environment, the scaffolding of institutions that continue today and a new way of life which wouldn’t have been possible in the home lands they left.

In its first decade Castlemaine grew from a ramshackle village known as Canvas Town clustered around the Gold Commissioners’ camps, to become a permanent town with hotels, schools, churches, Post Office and Court House. Local initiative built the Hospital, Gas Works, Mechanics Institute and Benevolent Asylum and the railway line was constructed. In 1855 Castlemaine became a municipality.