When you reach the Macedon Ranges you will have a hard time believing you are just one hour out of Melbourne. The beautiful region can feel like a whole different world, with rolling hills and valleys dotted with spectacular places to eat and drink.
The entire region is filled with beautiful landscapes that will please the eye. There are native forests to be explored, waterfalls, mineral springs and of course the natural and unique features; Hanging Rock and Mount Macedon.
Mount Macedon is an extinct volcano that stands 1010m from sea level, making it the highest peak of the ranges. Hanging Rock is an unusual formation that is also famous for being the setting for the novel (and then movie) Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Aside from the stunning natural landscape, it is worth making the trip to the Macedon Ranges for the heritage towns. Some of the streetscapes are still the same as what they were in the gold rush era, transporting visitors back to the early 1800’s. The historical features, buildings and monuments all lend the towns a lovely village feel, perfect for a lazy weekend stroll and looking through the local shops.
What to pack
When planning a trip to the Macedon Ranges take note of the time of year you are going. As it is a very cool-climate area the temperatures can drop quite low for Australia. So if the trip is in winter, make sure you pack some very warm clothes. Big jackets, thick gloves, woolly hats, and lots of layers that you can peel off once you are settled in front of a nice warm fire.
In the summer the weather is mild and dry, but can still be cool so pack a light jumper no matter what time of year you head there.
Be sure to include some comfortable walking shoes so you can get out and explore the natural sights.
Thanks to the lovely food and wine that can be enjoyed all over this region, it might be a good idea to also pack some stretchy pants!
What to do there
There is so much to see and do in the Macedon Ranges, and activities cater for people of all ages. So whether it’s a romantic weekend getaway, or a family vacation with the kids, there is something for everyone.
A great place to start is at Hanging Rock. The rare volcanic formation is the perfect area for exploring or simply to sit and have a meal on the lawn area. There is a Hanging Rock Discovery Centre where you can uncover the history of the area as well as gets hands-on with the displays and informative panels.
For more outdoor fun that will suit the younger ones, head to Woodend Children’s Park. Aside from the usual swings and slides, the playground also has a real flying fox, a large sandpit with a mechanical digger, a climbing wall and an eight-metre spider-web climbing frame.
Steep yourself in the history of the gold digging era by visiting the Kyneton Museum. Take a look at the servants’ kitchen, the private residence upstairs that once housed the bank manager from the 1850’s and various exhibitions that change regularly.
If you still have time to spare and energy to burn, check out the local fishing spots, golf courses and horse-riding trails.
Food and drink
The Macedon Ranges boasts some of the best food and wine that Victoria has to offer.
A great way to sample the local delights is to book a wine tour. Being escorted from one great winery to another will allow you a chance to really see what this area has to offer. You should be able to cover a lot of ground, fitting four or five wineries into one day. You can even stop for morning tea and lunch as part of your tour, letting you sample the food as well.
Beer-lovers are not forgotten in this area of the world, with Holgate Brewhouse offering tours and tastings of their authentic craft beer.
Another way to sample the local produce is to head to one of the markets that are on almost every weekend of the year. Purchase seasonal fruit and veg direct from the farmers, as well as meat, cheese, eggs, honey and more.
Enjoy what you’ve tasted so far? Then why not take a cooking or baking master class to learn how to recreate the delicious fare when you are back at home. There are several options for cooking classes, with some focussed on baking, others on pasta and a few that are everything in between.
So whether it is a quaint café for your morning coffee, a hearty pub meal for lunch or fine-dining for a special dinner, the Macedon Ranges has it all. The only problem you’ll have is finding the time (and the room in your tummy) to fit it all in!