Loddon Mallee

Loddon Mallee boasts a gang of towns all with their own distinct personality. Love being part of the art crowd? Kyneton or Castlemaine might be for you. Want a more metro experience? Perhaps consider bedding down in Bendigo. Need to be close to the great outdoors? Then run a finger along a map of the Murray River and see which town catches your eye.

There are so many brilliant places to call home in this region. Read below as we shine a spotlight on some of our favourites.

Kyneton is seen as something of a keystone town due to its close proximity to all of Victoria’s major cities. It’s a destination for historic architecture, art and op shopping. It’s also easy to navigate, with most of the action going down on Piper Street. This long strip is chock-full of antique dealers, grocers, cafes and galleries.

Crisp winter mornings in Kyneton are particularly wonderful; the combo of clear skies, country air and quality coffee brings many locals out to eat on the street. If you prefer to cook for yourself, monthly farmers’ markets will keep your fridge and fruit bowl full of local produce. 

Castlemaine is a favourite of history lovers, art lovers, food lovers and lovers of life in general. The town has experienced impressive population growth lately, welcoming many new residents from Melbourne’s northern suburbs. They’ve brought their artistic talents and demands for a decent brunch along with them too, and now locals can take in great music and food year round.

Despite the influx of tree-changers, Castlemaine has retained its country soul. And while the region’s farmers still sip on the amber nectar at traditional pubs, they can now also catch up for a chat at the Castlemaine Brewing Company's Tap Room or the monthly craft and produce market.

If you want a change of pace but still need city vibes in moderation, then Bendigo is the happy medium you’re after.

Boasting magnificent architecture preserved from the town’s gold rush heyday, walking through Bendigo feels like you’ve stepped onto a historical film set. Living here, you’ll become part of a growing city with a palpable energy, and have easy access to just about any service and recreational activity you can expect to find in Melbourne. You won’t have to travel far if you want to upskill, either, as the city hosts a health-focussed outpost of Monash University and a fully-fledged La Trobe University campus with more than 5,000 students.

Look closer to the Victorian border with New South Wales and you’ll find Mildura, the epicentre of the Sunraysia region. Nicknamed the ‘Fruit Bowl’ because of its high production of grapes and oranges, farming may be the backbone of this community but there are dozens of industries that have cropped up over the years. It means you’ll run into all sorts living in Mildura, and you’ll never be far away from a good chat and a new mate.

If you feel like an adventure outdoors, just jump in the car and make a beeline for Mungo National Park. With barely a tree in sight, you’ll come here to feel the red dirt beneath your feet and to get a bit closer to our ancient human history. In the 1970s, archaeologists uncovered ‘Mungo Man’ and ‘Mungo Lady’ here, the oldest human remains ever found in Australia (believed to be between 40,000 and 60,000 years old). Then take that sweaty body of yours and slide straight into the­ cooling waters of the legendary Murray River.

‘The Murray’ is Australia’s longest waterway, and the reason for Victoria’s meandering border with New South Wales. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun, especially when you live close by. Residents of Mildura, Echuca, Kerang, Robinvale and Swan Hill all have easy, year-round access to this mecca for surface water sports, camping, cruises and fishing. Many Melburnians make the pilgrimage once a year, but you’ll have the luxury of dropping out in your lunch hour for a swim if the big drink is calling your name.

Loddon Mallee has a lot to offer families and explorers alike, so which spot looks like the best home base for you?

In the Loddon Mallee region, the Department of Justice and Community Safety manages the Loddon and Tarrengower prison precincts. The department's Community Correctional Services (External link) program is run out of offices in Castlemaine, Maryborough, Bendigo, Echuca, Kerang, Swan Hill, Ouyen, Robinvale and Mildura.

Bendigo photo by John Sheba (External link)