Castlemaine featured in the gold rush in the 1850’s where the population is said to have peaked at nearly 30,000.
It has settled now, closer to 8,000 however the Shire of Mount Alexander totals 17,000.
Breweries, foundries and a woollen mill took over after the gold rush.
As Wikipedia reports, the first official Post Office at Castlemaine, named “Forest Creek”, opened on 1 March 1852. (Renamed the Castlemaine Post Office on 1 January 1854.)
The first official Post Office was established after “The Argus” (Melbourne) correspondent at Forest Creek had an article published in November 1851 that put the case forward for a Post Office to be established somewhere between the Forest Creek goldfield and Kyneton. At the same time (November 1851) he described the Forest Creek diggings as having many businesses like stores and licensed hawkers and “at least 8000 persons on the two creeks (Forest and Barker)”. The need pointed out in “The Argus” in November 1851 had resulted in an unofficial Post Office being established on the diggings at Chewton (Forest Creek) in December 1851, a Post Office then described as being “on the most central part of the diggings”.
On 15 February 1853 town lots were offered for sale. By that time the first Castlemaine District Hospital had been opened, the gaol had been built, and Castlemaine was moving from ‘tent’ town to bricks and mortar. A local government was formed on 23 April 1855 and was later to become the City of Castlemaine. Evidence of the Forest Creek diggings have been restored and open to the public, a few kilometres back, on the Melbourne Road towards Chewton.
A section of the Forest Creek diggings has been restored and is open free to the public, near Chewton on the Melbourne Road.
The Empyre Hotel was established as The Albion Hotel in the late 1800’s and survived despite flood and fire. The current building was a private dwelling until 2000, when the Empyre was fastidiously restored to its current glory, it was reopened as a Hotel/restaurant in 2004. Situated in the heart of the Castlemaine retail and boutique activity, the Empyre boasts the best location for accomodation in the town.
The Empyre Boutique Hotel is now an accommodation focused operation, celebrating the many and diverse restaurants in very close proximity to the building. Guests have the opportunity to use all areas of the beautifully restored building, and can easily spend much of their stay very close to the facilities of the Hotel.