The best things to do in Macedon

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The best things to do in Macedon

Macedon Ranges
Source: Daylesford Macedon Ranges
Words by Andrew Maclean

Stunning natural vistas, beautiful wineries, hotels, spas, restaurants, walking trails, food, arts and culture in the tranquil Macedon Ranges shire and greater region.

One of the few positive outcomes of being COVID-confined within Victoria’s borders has been the discovery of regional inland gems, all too often overlooked in favour of the coastal glory of the Great Ocean Road or the Mornington Peninsula. One such place is the Macedon Ranges, located just an hour’s drive north of Melbourne CBD.

With beautiful gardens and walking trails, quaint towns and galleries, arts festivals and culinary delights, the Macedon Ranges hold a treasure trove of adventure and beauty. You just have to experience it to believe it. To help prepare you for your journey, we’ve put together a little guide to some of the main attractions the Macedon Ranges has in store for you.

Macedon Ranges: What you need to know

  • This is Beat’s guide to the beautiful Macedon Ranges
  • We’ve compiled some of the greatest Macedon attractions throughout
  • There’s destinations and activities for every occasion

Keep up with the latest Victorian travel destinations, news and tips here

View the Macedon Ranges at Hanging Rock & Camel’s Hump

Located next to tiny country town of Newham and an easy 10-minute drive from Woodend, Hanging Rock is a rare volcanic structure formed over six million years ago, held sacred by the local Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrrung and Taungurung peoples. The area was made famous worldwide by Joan Lindsay’s book Picnic at Hanging Rock and Peter Weir’s film of the same title. The windy walk to the summit is essential as it provides a mesmerising 360 degree view of the Macedon Ranges. You can also check out the Hanging Rock Winery, home to a fantastic kinetic sculpture exhibition, Art in the Vines, which takes place from October to March each year.

A walk at nearby Camel’s Hump at the top of Mount Macedon also offers an amazing view of Hanging Rock in its full glory or for a truly immersive walking experience try the new Murmuring Walk at Lake Sanatorium, also on Mount Macedon.

Other great wineries worth visiting include Mt Towrong in Mount Macedon, a gorgeous boutique winery which serves delicious and authentic Italian food, as well as Mount Macedon Winery, located on the Woodend side of the mountain, which provides an inviting deck to enjoy a wine or beer to enjoy the splendid views.

Woodend Winter Arts Festival

A highlight of the region’s cultural calendar, the Woodend Winter Arts Festival is finally entering its seventeenth iteration this year. Due to COVID, the past two festivals have been cancelled and the 2022 edition will run over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend from June 10 to June 13. The festival offers a plethora of eclectic events, from classical music and jazz to arts lectures and Irish dancing.

Macedon Ranges Music Festival

The Macedon Ranges Music Festival is also a stellar event. The 2022 edition will be held on March 26 at Hanging Rock. Performers have yet to be announced, but you know there will be some class acts after a 2021 program that featured the likes of Emma Donovan & the Putbacks, Velvet Bloom and Nick Barker.

Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival

Another huge event taking place in 2022 is the Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival. Spanning from March 26 to April 25, the festival is a smorgasbord of events and promotions to support and celebrate local producers, creatives and businesses. Experience food, wine, music and all the best the Macedon Ranges has to offer over four exciting weeks. Keep an eye out for the festival program when it is unveiled in February 2022.

Explore Woodend

The gateway to the Macedon Ranges, Woodend is a beautiful country town that gives visitors a little taste of everything. If you prefer walking trails and nature views, enjoy the pleasant Five Mile Creek walk as it passes through picnic grounds, reserves and recreation areas. If you’re more inclined to kick your feet up and enjoy friendly country hospitality, Woodend absolutely has you covered. There are a number of wineries in the surrounding areas and the town itself includes friendly cafés, the legendary Bourkies Bakehouse and the Holgate Brewhouse & Taproom.

If you are looking for some tasty coffee to fuel your Macedon Ranges adventure, make sure you swing by Fox and the Chamber, or if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet cravings, visit the Woodend Ice Cream Co. For those wanting to shop in Woodend then Woodend General is a beautiful store with everything from giftware to gardening, and you’ll feel pleased to know that all their goods are ethically made.

The Railway Hotel is the home of live music in Macedon, although it’s currently still recovering from a fire. First licensed in 1865, this fine establishment sits right across from the train station and is an hour ride away from Melbourne or Bendigo. Keep an eye for their 2022 gig guide, which includes The Meanies and Ed Kuepper amongst many others. Before the show starts, make you visit the outdoor deck to soak in expansive views of Mount Macedon.

Stroll around vibrant Kyneton and historic Piper Street

At the top of the Macedon Ranges Shire lies the picturesque and relaxing town of Kyneton, where visual remnants of the gold rush linger in the beautiful bluestone buildings that line the streets. A shoppers delight, Kyneton is best discovered on foot as it contains numerous antique shops, boutiques, vintage clothing, art galleries, book and gift shops.

Hospitality is also thriving in the region and there is something that will satisfy your cravings no matter your inclination, particularly down the historic Piper Street, which is undoubtedly the heart of this magnificent town.

It is here you will find many of Kyneton’s cool wine bars and cocktail lounges, including Miss M’s and Botanik at the Royal George

If you’re looking for a juicy burger or live music or both then head to Major Tom’s. This cool throwback joint has it all: regular gigs, great food, records spinning, beer garden and tap beer. What more could you want from your local hangout? Fook Shing is an eclectic venue serving pan-Asian eats in a gold rush era pub with a fascinating history.

Animus Distillery is also a highlight of Piper Street. Founded in 2015 in a Fitzroy North garage, Animus has now developed into an award-winning gin distillery and cocktail lounge. They also provide beer, wine, whisky and you can also undertake a Gin Blending Masterclass to help you create your own gin blend at home.

To round off your day on Piper Street, why not stock up on all your fresh produce at  the Duck Duck Goose & Larder or Piper Street Food Co. before enjoying a treatment at Maiaveda Day Spa.

A must visit café is The Social Foundry, which is located in a refurbed car garage. Ran as a not-for-profit social enterprise, the Social Foundry is giving back while providing delicious food, cocktails and much more. Donkey on High Street is also another excellent place to check out if you love burgers (who doesn’t).

Watch autumn leaves in the wonderful gardens of the Macedon Ranges

Autumn in the Macedon Ranges is breathtaking and there is no better place to enjoy the natural spectacle than the iconic Forest Glade Gardens on Mount Macedon. Open all year round, the gardens take inspiration from English, Italian and woodland traditions, and even have their own Japanese bonsai house.

The gardens of Tieve Tara are another great option, open on select dates during autumn and spring. It’s during autumn when the magic truly happens, as the garden comes alive in an array of vibrant red, yellow and orange leaves, which sprawl across luscious green grass and serene lakes. It’s just like a real life Monet painting.

Relax at the award-winning Big Tree Gin Distillery

There are a number of wineries and distilleries in the Macedon Ranges region, but Big Tree Gin Distillery is a true standout. Founded by husband and wife team Catherine and Gary Jago, Big Tree produces a small number of award winning gins, all made with local botanicals and fresh rainwater in their 300-litre copper pot, lovingly named ‘Beryl’. In tranquil Newham, amidst rolling hills and farmland, kick your feet up at Big Tree with a cheese board and one of Australia’s best gin and tonics.

Take your pick from an eclectic range of Macedon Ranges accommodation options

For something different during your stay in the Macedon Ranges, spend a night or two at Fellcroft Farmstay. Located near Newham, close to Hanging Rock, Fellcroft Farmstay is the perfect place to unwind after a long day enjoying the myriad activities the Macedon Ranges has to offer. The two lodging quarters available to hire at Fellcroft offer perfect views of Mount Macedon, Hanging Rock and Camel’s Hump, as well as the bonus feature of your own private spa in which to vibe out and enjoy the landscape.

Flophouse is another terrific accommodation option. The company has multiple cottages and houses throughout the Macedon Ranges that can accommodate for a variety of group sizes. Some of the available properties are stunning and provide you with the perfect homely environment to unwind after a long day of discovering this amazing region.

For more information, head to the Daylesford Macedon Life website here.