The Big Tree
The main reason for visiting this town is 'The Big Tree' at the intersection of Fryers St and Ballaarat St (it is suitably signposted off the highway).
This truly remarkable and beautifully preserved red gum is thought to be the largest of its species in Victoria. The girth at the base is 12.8 metres and the height is 25.9 metres.
A plaque suggests that Burke and Wills camped beneath its generous umbrage on their journey from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Although this is apocraphyl Burke may well have been acquainted with the tree as he was superintendent of police in the Castlemaine district from 1858 to 1860 and would have been familiar with the terrain.
The building on the corner of the highway and Ballaraat St is the former Farmers Arms Hotel
The former Commercial Hotel (1865) is located at the corner of Fryers and Templeton Sts and it now serves as the town's general store. On its northern side are the stables and outbuildings of a large department store that burned down in 1916.
On the other side of the road is the Guildford Family Hotel (1856). The ruins of an old assembly hall stand nearby on its northern side. Next door is London House (1856) which originally served as a store and post office.
To the rear of the modern public hall is the old lock-up. The Catholic Church on the corner is now private property, as is the Wesleyan Chapel. The present post office in Templeton St dates from 1901.
2 km north of Guildford along the Midland Highway is the locality of Yapeen which was known as the Pennyweight Diggings in 1852. It later became Strathloddon, after William Campbell's 'Strathloddon' station, then Yapeen which is thought to be an Aboriginal place-name meaning 'green valley'.
Chinese miners once camped in this valley where the Munro apple was later developed. The ruins of an 1887 waterwheel can still be seen in Mopoke Gully.
Marsh House is a prefabricated two-storey building which was imported from England and erected in 1854 for William Mein, the son of a pioneer European settler. Mein Sr is said to have performed the first Presbyterian service in NSW.