Victorian Goldfields Railways is a beautiful stretch of old-fashioned and steam-powered ‘rail adventure’ between Maldon and Castlemaine in Central Victoria. At just over an hour away from Ballarat it doesn’t make it onto our Ballarat Bucket List (100 things for families to do in Ballarat) but it is a seriously good family day out and well worth the extra half hour drive.
The impressively restored steam trains travel between Maldon and Castlemaine, taking about 45 minutes to complete their journey. You can buy a one way or return ticket. If you choose the return journey, and get your timing right, you can spend a few hours exploring the opposite township. Or you can simply wait for twenty minutes at the station while the steam engine refuels and turns around before climbing on board again and heading straight back. (If you’re patient and willing to wait, the drivers might even let the kids climb up in the engine and see how it works before they head back.) Check out the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s website for more information about running times and prices.
The trains are beautifully restored and give you a first class idea of what steam travel would have been like back in the early 1900s. There are first class and economy tickets. As you will see in the photos below the first class carriages are seriously beautiful – but for my money economy is the way to go. In economy you get a cabin that seats about eight and the kids (read parents) can open the windows and feel the wind on their faces, hear the rhythmic sound of the wheels on track and see the train pushing on through the bush-land. It’s really just a bit magical.
The Victorian Goldfields Railway is volunteer run and you will find helpful and friendly volunteers on hand to collect tickets and share information about the trains. Be warned though, these guys seriously like talking about their trains, once you get them started there is no stopping them. We actually really enjoyed their knowledge and conversation so I would actually chalk that up as a good thing.
The pictures below will give you a great idea of how our little adventure unfolded.
It really is a beautiful day out and just as much fun as it looks. Well worth the drive to get there. Both Maldon and Castlemaine are also lovely, historic and well-appointed towns to explore with kids. There are loads of cafes, crafts stall, antique shops and gardens in both. If you get your timing right they both also run numerous markets and festivals. A small shout of for the Fish-n-Chips at Maldon Fresh Takeaway and the fudge at The Maldon Lolly Shop (both on Main street.) Our lunch was close to perfection.
Remember to check out the Victorian Goldfields Railway website for prices and train running times.