If you visit the Goldfields to do a bit of fossicking around old abandoned sites, it would be an exciting and newsworthy event if you happened to find a lost gold nugget. What you are more likely to find is the common detritus of the everyday lives of miners and their families, including bits of broken pottery, and there’s a sure bet some of it will be blue and white Willow Pattern.
The pattern originated at a time when England was fascinated with Chinese porcelain, but which was far too expensive for ordinary people. Around 1790, Joshua Spode launched his range of affordable transfer-printed dinnerware, every piece telling an invented romantic story of star-crossed Chinese lovers: rich girl falls in love with poor boy; father wants girl to marry rich man, lovers elope, are pursued and escape across a bridge, only to die tragically and the gods turn them into doves.
It was sheer marketing genius on the part of Spode but in those days before patent and copyright regulations, it was inevitable his original design was copied and altered and since then more than 500 manufacturers have produced versions of the ever-popular Willow Pattern.
This blog article was written for Tansley & Co by Regina of Arbeia, author of the Digging the Dust history blog.
If you haven’t been to Maldon (or even if you have) here are a few reasons to visit this gorgeous little country town.
# ONE – We’re Notable
Maldon is Australia’s first notable town and the only one in Victoria. Maldon was recognised by the National Trust in 1966 as being historically significant, with many original goldrush buildings and an intact period streetscape. The town is protected from development which makes it an interesting antithesis to the intense development happening in many parts of our bigger cities. The Maldon Museum has a fascinating walking tour you can do which details the history of all the buildings in the main part of town, and some further out.
# TWO – You might strike it lucky
Maldon sits within the famous Golden Triangle (think Ballarat to Bendigo) and is still home to an operational Gold Mine. Gold fever hit Maldon hard in 1854 and although the rush was short lived, it was still one of Victoria’s richest quartz mining centres. In the last couple of years gold nuggets have turned up in the area worth several hundred thousand dollars, proving that gold is still out there. Watch out for old mineshafts though, someone drove their car into one recently and got a bit of a surprise.
# THREE – Take it Slow
Although it can get crazy busy in Maldon during big events, most of the time it’s very quiet and peaceful, especially mid-week. It’s a great spot to slow down a bit, take in the fresh air and relax. There are lots of accommodation options in town ranging from budget to luxury depending on your needs. Check out Maldon Getaways for some interesting ideas.
If you haven’t visited us before you might be wondering where exactly we are. Tansley & Co. is in Maldon, Victoria, Australia (not to be confused with the original Maldon in Essex, England). Maldon, Victoria is one of Australia’s best-preserved gold rush villages and the entire town was listed with Heritage Victoria in 1966 to preserve it for future generations.
Maldon is located to the north west of Melbourne in the central goldfields area and is part of the famous Golden Triangle, where many gold discoveries have been made. The nearest town to Maldon is Castlemaine, which is just 15 minutes away. The nearest city is Bendigo, approximately 30 minutes away.
We get many visitors from Melbourne to Maldon – just travel out of the city up the Calder Freeway and follow the signs! We are about and hour and a half from the northern fringes of Melbourne. You can see a map showing our location on our home page.
Maldon is also less than an hour away for anyone visiting Clunes, Daylesford, Kyneton, Woodend, or Maryborough. So, if you’re planning a weekend away in the goldfields then make sure you make a detour to come and see our beautiful little town.
We get asked all the time what there is to do in Maldon. So, if you’re visiting the Castlemaine Bendigo region this weekend, here are some great reasons to take a quick detour and come and visit Maldon!
In no particular order:
Travel on the Victorian Goldfields Railway Steam train between Castlemaine and Maldon. The train runs regularly between the two towns on Sundays, and they often run extra trips with all sorts of fun activities. Check out the VGR website for more information, including the timetable.
Delight your senses with coffee and cake or a gourmet lunch from one of Maldon’s many café’s. Our current favourites are Le Sel French Deli, the Gold Exchange Cafe and Miss Pritchard’s Pantry. There are so many great places in town – if you have kids in tow then both Café Maldon and the Maldon Hotel do great kid’s meals.
Sit back and enjoy a drink at Maldon’s famous Kangaroo Hotel – the only one in Australia! A great place to sit and watch the world go by, in cooler weather the outdoor fire pit will keep you warm and toasty. Have a look at the Kangaroo Hotel Facebook page to see what gigs are coming up.
Take in the view from the top of Mt Tarrangower. Take a drive up to the top of the mountain. It’s a great spot to take some scenic photos, with great shots possible around sunrise and sunset. If you don’t have transport you can also walk up the nearby Anzac Hill for some similar scenic views of the township.
Shop until you drop in Maldon’s eclectic mix of quirky stores and second-hand dealers. Ice cream, teddy bears, upmarket homewares, fashion, books, plants and more – rest assured you’ll find something to take home as a souvenir of your trip!
Inspired by our amazing heritage town, Tansley & Co. owner and designer Valentina Tansley has just released a new range of postcards and prints featuring Maldon. The postcards are printed on 100% recycled card and are now available in store. These quirky designs are a little different to your standard tourist cards, featuring not only scenes of the town but also scraps of vintage newspapers from Maldon’s past.
One thing we get asked every day is whether or not the wallpaper in our store is original, and the short answer is yes! Our building opened in 1900 as the cafe and refreshment rooms for the Maldon Bakery, which is still trading next door. The building was lavishly decorated throughout in bold wallpaper, however our room is the only one to survive intact.
Heritage interiors consultant Maree Wilding from Interior Productions in Melbourne visited us last year to provide some advice on the paper. The main floral pattern is of a type used over many decades in the Victorian period, however the dado is most certainly from the 1890’s.
Unfortunately the paper is showing it’s age at 118, and several parts are missing or damaged. The jury is still out on whether or not to patch up the missing sections or just leave it to the ravages of time.
You may not have thought about it before, but buying antique and vintage goods is one of the most eco-friendly ways to purchase goods.
Buying pre-loved goods saves energy and resources, so you’re helping the planet every time you choose to buy something old over newly made.
All our items in store are either pre-loved or made by upcycling or recycling other goods. We generally source our items within a couple of hours from our store. This reduces our reliance on air or sea freight for transporting goods. We are proud to share objects with you that have been loved and cherished by others.
Welcome to Tansley & Co. We are the newest store to open in the heritage town of Maldon, Victoria. Our little store is open two or three weekends a month and is currently stocked full of antique furniture, ceramics, lighting and textiles. Our aim is to provide interesting second hand goods at affordable prices. Buying antique, vintage and secondhand is a great way to support the environment!