I have refreshed this article which was first written during autumn on the cusp of winter. I have now revisited during summer and have written an update at the end of this article about my summery Malmsbury meanderings.
I must have driven through Malmsbury 50 or more times as a sales rep. This small village was on the main highway to the regional city of Bendigo which was part of my territory. Ironic really as Malmsbury’s foundation can be traced back to being a ‘traveller’s stop’ between Melbourne and the Gold-fields in the 1850s.
But in 2008 a freeway bypass changed everything.
Malmsbury went from a major thoroughfare to an off-piste destination and that must have been tumultuous for this tiny hamlet. It was bye-bye to stopping for a pie.
Recently however I met a friend of mine there. The plan was to undertake a day of photography in the autumnal colours of beautiful regional Victoria. We were just using Malmsbury as a meeting-point and had every intention of heading away immediately.
We stayed all day!
I have returned twice since in only about two months. It really is one of the best day trips from Melbourne by car and can also be easily reached by train.
Let me tell you a little more about its charms.
A rich history.
Like much of the Victorian ‘Gold-Fields’ region Malmsbury is blessed with superb 19th Century architecture and evocative remnants of a rich history. Quite literally.
Whilst gold was certainly an important factor in the establishment and growth of the town in the late 1850s it’s bedrock was something quite different. I say rock where I should probably say – stone. Bluestone to be precise.
Much of this mighty building material can still be seen in local structures to this day. Pre-eminent amongst them the wonderfully preserved railway station and epic railway viaduct. Many of Melbourne’s buildings of the era are also built of Malmsbury Bluestone, including Parliament House.
A wander around town easily unveils much of this rich history. It’s a very easy and very pleasant way to explore. Just park the car and go for an amble.
Plenty to see, eat, sip and do.
When I used to come through here more than a decade ago as that sales rep the Malmsbury bakery was often a transit stop for me. But it would be in and out. It was less enticing back then to stay-and-eat. With a regular procession of large, noisy and polluting trucks plying their trade up and down the main highway between Melbourne and Bendigo. It’s so different now.
There is pleasing selection of new and established eateries and cafes dotting the main road. I haven’t yet dined here for a seated lunch or dinner but you can simply click the link to peruse the choices and reviews of the Malmsbury dining options.
However I am a sucker for a good cafe. In fact within about 300 metres of my front door at home there are four amazing coffee-houses. So I am always on the look out for a cool cafe. And I didn’t have to look for long before finding the character-laden Small Holdings Cafe. As a coffee-loving history-buff when I see a renovated church replete with a restful and shaded outdoor terrace I simply must visit. Resistance, as they say, is futile.
Click an image to enlarge.
Once you’ve eaten or finished your coffee park up the car and go for a wander. It’s a delightful and compact village. With history at every turn you can criss-cross back and forth across the main road (the Calder Highway) and observe the wonderfully preserved architecture surrounding you. It’s hilly so be prepared. But this way you can walk-off that extra donut from the Malmsbury bakery right?!
I recommend to end a saunter at the absolutely delightful Botanic Gardens which also contains a truly remarkable sight.
Malmsbury Botanic Gardens.
A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. Inasmuch I’m going to let the images mostly speak for themselves. The Malmsbury botanic gardens are a serene and restful place. Somewhere that softly whispers ‘stay a while’. They were planted in 1850 making them the oldest in Victoria.
Click image to enlarge.
As you wander amidst the fine collection of native and exotic flora make sure you make your way to the ‘back’ of the gardens. So that’s to say as far away from the Calder Highway as possible. Because what you find there is nothing short of stunning.
Malmsbury Railway Viaduct.
Even if you know what to expect this 100 metre long viaduct will still not disappoint. Imagine then when my friend and I simply happened-upon it. We were shocked. Tucked away from view in a village of less than 700 inhabitants was a structure that the Roman’s would have been proud of.
Taking three years to complete (1858 – 61) and built-to-last primarily of local bluestone rock it is as imposing as it is spectacular. If you visit then stay a while and you will most likely see one of the regional trains crossing it’s span which is an impressive sight.
Yesterday I had the utter pleasure of ducking back into town for a first visit during summer. Something that was immediately obvious was that the main street has plenty of shade on offer to afford respite during the heat of the day. Verandahs and awnings on one side and venerable trees along a grass verge on the other.
Another suggestion I would have for summer would be to saunter down the main road – literally. Head downwards along Mollison St not up it. As you slowly wander you will pass myriad of eateries and bric a brac shops before ending at the shady nirvana that is the Malmsbury Botanic Gardens.
Here, at the junction of Mollison and Ellesmere, you will find at least three options to pick up a hot or cold drink (two cafes and a milk bar) to take with you into the gardens.
I’ll list some links below where you can retrieve more information about wonderful Malmsbury. This has just been a scratching of the surface. This village sure is a little place with big appeal and is definitely one of the best day trips from Melbourne by car or train.
Photo Gallery. Malmsbury.
Click an image to enlarge.
All images © Saxon Templeton.