A little bit about us....
Castlemaine is a picturesque rural, industrial and commercial town located in Central Victoria, approximately 120km northwest of Melbourne.
In 1836 explorer Major Mitchell passed through the area and observed 'well watered grazing land'. The following year early settlers arrived with their herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. Soon after huge squatters runs were established in the region and a small rural township emerged.
In 1851 gold was discovered in Specimen Gully and what was a small rural township quickly developed into the home of the world's largest alluvial goldfield.
Castlemaine has continued to flourish and according to the 2016 census the region (including Chewton, Faradale, Fryerstown, Harcourt, Maldon, Newstead, Taradale, and Vaughn) now boasts a population of 18,761.
The town is so bestowed with history that there are nine historical societies within the shire boundaries:
- Castlemaine Art Gallery
- Castlemaine Historical Society
- Chewton Town Hall
- Harcourt Heritage
- Maldon Museum & Archives Association
- Maldon Vintage & Machinery Museum
- Newstead & District Historical Society
- Pioneers & Old Residents' Association
- Taradale Historical Group.
The Castlemaine Pioneers & Old Residents' Association (P&ORA) held its first meeting on 17 March 1880 following some informal meetings amongst like-minded gentlemen who were keen to form an organisation to support one another in times of need and to enhance the society they lived in.
One of the early rules states 'that the organisation will collect, store, preserve and promote the area's local history.
The P&ORA is not a Historical Society as such, but we do own a lot of historical 'stuff' as past members were reluctant to throw anything out.
Right up until the late 1980s the P&ORA was orientated toward helping to improve the society they lived in. These days our members are spending time sorting, digitising, cataloguing and storing our collection - current and historical - in an effort to establish a legacy for future generations.
We are enthusiastic about remaining relevant for another 139 years and ensuring our collection of historic memorabilia is accessible to folks far beyond our region. Thus in 2019 we launched our very own website.
The Old Telegraph Station was built in 1856 and opened officially on 1 January 1857.
The building, and the land it stood on, was granted to the Pioneers & Old Residents' Association on 22 December 1893, and we have lived there ever since.
Originally there was a north wing, however it was demolished to make way for the construction of the Faulder Watson Hall which was opened on 27 March 1895 and has provided a large venue for meetings and social activities ever since.
It is the intention of our organisation to achieve the following objectives.
To continue to collect, preserve & protect our shire's significant historic memorabilia and ensure its longevity.
To collect more recent memorabilia so it remains relevant to current & future generations.
To leverage the 'internet age' in order to make our collection accessible to people around the globe.