With more than 150 years of history in its soil, the parks, villages and castle – Yes, Castle – of Keilor are worth exploring
When bullock teams camped in the area now known as Keilor on their way to the Ballarat and Castlemaine goldfields during the Gold Rush, little did they know that, in the 21st century, the suburb would become one of the most desirable places in Melbourne’s northwest.
Nestled on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, Keilor offers incredible nature-based explorations for all abilities. Let the kids experience a different era at Horseshoe Bend Farm (what it lacks in farm animals it makes up for in history and olde worlde charm) and the quaint playground at Bonfield Reserve nearby. For something a little bit more exerting, lace up the walking boots and head to Organ Pipes National Park in Keilor North, where towering basalt columns offer something of an outdoor cathedral for all Melburnians to enjoy.
Break up your day with a stroll through the beloved Keilor Village. As timeless as the suburb itself, the quintessential suburban shopping strip is given a green touch, as native trees tower above the independent shops that line the northern side of Old Calder Highway.
Although easily accessible by the Calder Freeway and Western Ring Road, Keilor has a village feel, and a wander down the main street has more in common with a country town than a suburb just 18 kilometres from the city centre.
Built in 1849, Overnewton Castle is a symbol of the suburb’s rich history. While you may not find somewhere to park your horse and carriage these days, you can still revel in the 19th century nostalgia as you meander through the Castle’s gardens during or after one of their popular High Teas.
Keilor Village is home to another of the suburb’s historic monuments, the Keilor Hotel. Originally built in 1849 it has been in the hands of the same family since 1862, and as you step into the Galway Arms Bistro inside – The Galway Arms being the original name of the hotel – you’ll be whisked away to a time where diggers would stop by for steaks the size of dinner plates on the way to the goldfields.
Slow down and enjoy the beauty of nature at the Keilor Botanic Gardens. While not technically in Keilor – rather, it’s on Stadium Drive in neighbouring Keilor Park – its ten hectares are all devoted to native flora. Taking a quiet walk, you’ll be amazed at the bird life you see in the trees. Best of all, it’s a bit of a hidden gem, so you may well have the trails all to yourself.
For something a little darker, stop by Keilor Cemetery and search out the burial sites of some of Melbourne’s most notorious criminals. Carl Williams was buried here in 2010 in a gold-plated coffin, and now lies next to his brother Shane, mother Barbara and hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin.