Located about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Macedon Ranges is a region of lush valleys, charming villages and atmospheric vineyards. It’s a relaxed destination offering stunning natural attractions, fine food and wine, and quality Macedon Ranges accommodation. Where to start for a rejuvenating weekend away, or week’s exploration? From vineyards to villages, here’s our list of the must-see attractions.
Hanging Rock is an Australian icon, thanks in good part to Picnic at Hanging Rock, the classic Australian novel and film. The destination deserves accolades in its own right however. Situated close to the towns of Woodend and Mount Macedon, the distinctively shaped volcanic formation has stood for over six million years. Visitors to the Hanging Rock Recreation Reserve can explore a number of walking trails, discover the beautiful native flora and fauna and enjoy a picnic or barbeque. The Hanging Rock Discovery Centre is a great hands-on information centre. And the summit will reward you with panoramic views that stretch from Mount Macedon to the Cobaw Ranges.
Hanging Rock is not the only striking rock formation in the Macedon Ranges. At the peak of Mount Macedon, you’ll find the incredible 21m high Memorial Cross, erected to commemorate fallen Australian soldiers. From the cross, the breathtaking view stretches all the way to Melbourne and Port Philip Bay. The mountain is covered with lush ash forest and is home to a wonderful array of birds and wildlife, so there are plenty of picturesque spots to picnic with a view.
Some of the gorgeous gardens en route to the top of Mount Macedon are open for public viewing. The century-old Forest Glade Gardens are a highlight. Relax as you stroll through stunning English, Japanese and woodland gardens, and don’t miss the lovely fern gully. Another favourite is Tieve Tara, home to serene lakes and ponds, lush lawns and abundant flowers. There are also three wonderful Botanic Gardens in the Macedon Ranges, at Malmsbury, Gisborne and Kyneton. While these are open year round, garden enthusiasts should be sure to visit in April or November for the Macedon Ranges Open Garden festival, when many additional private gardens are open for public viewing.
Vineyards to wine and dine
The Victorian wine region is internationally renowned, and you can sample some of the best drops at the vineyards and cellar doors of the Macedon Ranges. There are over 50 wineries in the region, so drop by one of the local Visitor Information Centres for a map and start your vineyard adventure. Many of the Macedon Ranges wineries have cellar doors, cafes and restaurants, and great vineyard accommodation.
The region is known for sparkling wines (both red and white) and you’ll also find a lovely selection of boutique tipples. Stock up on local cheeses and breads at one of the local food producers for a tasty picnic.
The Macedon Ranges region is home to a number of charming towns and villages where you can discover historic buildings, cafés, antique and craft stores, galleries and food providers.
- Macedon, at the base of Mount Macedon, sprang up during the gold rush and was originally called Middle Gully. Its home to lovely gardens, guesthouse accommodation, and the picturesque oak-lined Honour Avenue, created to remember the local servicemen and women of the First World War.
- Kyneton’s main road, Piper Street, is lined with lovely heritage buildings. Housed in the former Bank of NSW building, the Kyneton Museum is a must-see, with interesting displays showcasing the local history and heritage. Be sure to stock up at the farmer’s markets, held every second Saturday. And don’t miss the beautiful Botanic Gardens.
- Lancefield is a great destination for foodies, with a number of vineyards close by and several cafés and restaurants lining Main Street. The Lancefield Farmers Market is perhaps the region’s most extensive, with organic meat and vegetables and local produce including cheese, honey and olive oil. And don’t miss a visit to The Macedonian, a historic property filled to the brim with art, antiques, a café and inviting wine bar.
- Gisborne is also home to lovely Botanic Gardens, and it has wonderful open parkland by Jacksons Creek that is ideal for walks and bike riding. There’s family fun to be had at the aquatic centre, and a golf course if you’re up for a round. Gisborne Peak Winery is one vineyard close to town, with a cellar door and pizza restaurant. And the Gisborne markets shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking to fossick for fashion, homewares, nik naks and bites to eat.
Macedon Ranges accommodation
The Macedon Ranges is home to historic properties, boutique guesthouses and some of the most inviting vineyard accommodation in Victoria, so there’s a perfect place to stay for everyone from families and couples to corporate groups looking for a retreat or getaway. Ready for your adventure?