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My PDC led me to this beautiful home at Castlemaine. built with light earth and straw bale techniques. It’s passive solar heating and cooling too.

Some beautiful Margaret Preston at Castlemaine Gallery. She will always be my number one. No one does Australian native flora better. (at Castlemaine Art Gallery)

Executed This Day- June 1, 1857



This unhappy man underwent the extreme penalty of the law yesterday morning, at eight o'clock, in the Melbourne gaol. James Woodlock formerly kept the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle public-house, in Elizabeth-street, but at the time of his commission of the crime which led to his death, was living at Castlemaine. He had a wife and five children, and, it appears, had conceived a jealousy of a man named Charles Vick, whom he believed to be the lover of his wife, and stabbed him. Committed for trial by the coroner, he subsequently absconded from his bail, but was again arrested by the detective police in February last, at Kilmore. He died with firmness, and suffered apparently but little. He was about forty years of age, and a member of the Catholic faith.

Castlemaine Accommodation

Castlemaine is only an hour’s drive from Bendigo and about 120 kilometres northwest by road from Melbourne. Though no longer famous for gold, the town is visited by a huge number of tourists each year. It is a wonderful agricultural city that has also some historical streets and botanical gardens to satisfy its visitors.

The town is also a good base to explore places like Maldon and Bark forest. The Bark forest is one of the best known gold mining operations site in Australia. On top of that, you can visit Castlemaine’s museums and galleries, have the scenic views of parks, and enjoy sunset panoramas of the countryside.

When you are in Castlemaine and looking for accommodation, choose The Midland Hotel.

At some point last week – unseen, unheard – someone deposited a pile of quinces in a puddle-pocked lane in Ballarat. It was a political act.

The lane in question – Warrior Place in the suburb of Redan – is the modest ground zero of Food Is Free, a volunteer movement that is, by turns, challenging and charming.

Since it began in October last year, it has spread rapidly to other locations, including Ballarat, Bendigo, Smythes Creek, Daylesford, Castlemaine, Gippsland and Sunshine. The newest Food Is Free site is scheduled to start up in Ararat on May 21.        

The driving idea behind Food Is Free is simple. People leave their surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs, seedlings and seeds at a particular spot. Then other people come along and take them, at no cost. There is no fee, no membership, no paperwork, no opening hours, no obligation – and no lawful premises.

“It’s very, very naughty,” said Lou Ridsdale, 42, who set up the Redan site. “That’s why I love it. It breaks a lot of taboos. We don’t own the land it’s on, for instance. The community has just taken it over. I’m a great believer in green anarchy.”

Each Victorian Food Is Free site in some way reflects the needs of its users.

However, Ridsdale’s initial action was prompted by two American movements: one rather utopian, and the other more hard-edged.

The utopian influence came from the US version of Food Is Free, a non-profit organisation that started in Austin, Texas, in January 2012. Volunteers build large planter boxes out of recycled materials, which are given free to communities and schools.

Founder John VanDeusen Edwards estimates there are Food Is Free schemes in 190 cities around the world.

Ridsdale’s grittier inspiration came from another movement, Guerilla Gardening. Using a more confrontational model, guerilla gardening groups appropriate unused inner city land – vacant lots, weed-strewn pocket parks, the middle of roundabouts – and plant food crops. Run-ins with authority are common.

The Texas organisation tends to attract free-spirited folk. Guerilla gardeners, on the other hand, are motivated by the brute fact that people who live in poor neighbourhoods often have little access to fresh fruit and vegetables. For both groups, food is a matter of social justice.

“There are some homeless people who come here at night to get some food,” Ridsdale said. “We’ve installed some solar-powered lights so they can see what’s available.

"I like the fact that this can be all anonymous if someone wants it to be. It’s available to everyone. People can come here to pick up some fruit or veg if the family budget is falling a few dollars short, or they can come here to pick up some fresh produce just because they want to.

"There’s no stigma about coming here. No one’s judged in the laneway.”