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Macedon Ranges

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Victoria's Macedon ranges

Less than an hour's drive along the Calder Highway northwest of Melbourne are the serene and ever green MacedonRanges and here can be found a wealth of attractions among the smallold gold towns and surrounding gold rich, unspoilt bushland (so take yourmetal detector with you).

Mt Macedon Memorial Cross.Leaving Melbourne, you will pass through the pleasant country town of Gisborne,then the road takes a right turn and you'll soon arrive in Macedon.Take the turnoff to Mount Macedon and, as one moves up the hill, watch outfor the magnificent, award winning gardens around the lovely homes
to be seen here. There are grand views from miles around from thelookout on the top of the mount, where also can be seen the tall warmemorial.

Close by is the rugged and mysterious HangingRock, made world famous in the film "Picnic at HangingRock". It can be climbed, with care, in good weather. Oftenkoalas can be spotted in the tall eucalypts of this area.

At its base is the Hanging Rock Race Course and picnicgrounds and the grand new Hanging Rock Discovery Centre. There is alsothe well stocked Barringo Wildlife Reserve,open daily, a hillside caravan park and the MountainInn Hotel, which offers warm fires and period charm. The allnew Blue Ridge Inn also has much to offer guests, on 10 acres, high aboveHanging Rock.

Hanging RockThen there is Dryden's Run WineryRetreat, offering superior accommodation in a vineyard and a numberof excellent cottages to rent on a B&B basis. Another vineyard tovisit is the Hanging Rock Winery for tastings and Central Highland Safarisoffer good short tours of the area. There are also night walking tours forthose staying overnight.

Further on is the pleasant country township of Woodend, with its ultra widemain street. The big old Bentink Country Househere is very popular with bed and breakfast devotees who enjoy a spacious,cosy guest house. There is no bar, but guests are allowed to bringtheir own alcoholic drinks to sample at anytime, including with their meals,or before the roaring fire in the lounge. An alternative place to stayis Paramoor Farm Country Retreat, with quietbush cabins offering all mod cons on a farm worked by Clydesdale horses.

Hanging Rock Race TrackLovely old Kyneton is the next town on thisroute, with a visitors information centre in the main street. Many ofthe locally quarried bluestone town buildings date back to the 19th centuryand have been well preserved. One of these now houses the KynetonHistorical Museum. And don't miss the quaint historic cottagealongside it. There is a caravan park and numerous bed and breakfastestablishments in town or close by, including WoodbineGardens, Kinsale Waters, KynetonCountry House, Kyneton Ridge Estate and KynetonBushland Retreat.

For those who like fine china, there's Kyneton FineChina & Ceramics at 50 Wedge Street and for antique loversthere's Kyneton Provender in Piper Street.Also on Piper is Trio Station Winery, whichoffers a warm welcome to visitors. If you enjoy country racing, you'llwant to attend the Kyneton Cup and all itsexcitement and fashions in early November. But Kyneton doesn't stopthere. It has an annual Antiques Fair inearly September and a Daffodil & Arts Festivalalso in early September. In fact, in most months of the year ithas some interesting annual event in operation.

The local town gardens are worth a browse too. And for those with asweet tooth, Sweet Cravings at 65a High Streetoffers plenty of fine cakes and pastries, as well as all the favourite typesof fresh baked pies.

Keep driving along the highway and you'll soon come into Malmsbury,with its massive old bluestone mill, built in 1860 on your right, set wellback from the road. This has now been totally refurbished in realstyle and offers very comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation, plus atop class restaurant and art gallery.

Coliban River ViaductMalmsbury has a viaduct over the Coliban riverthat's worth a photograph (it has a National Trust A classification) andbeside the nearby reservoirs anglers can often be seen throwing a line intothe water The botanic gardens beside theriver are an excellent spot for a picnic. The variety of
old European trees there is well worth a little studying. Malmsbury,like Kyneton is, of course, another town that sprang out of the gold rushera of the 1850s.

Every second Sunday of each month there is a market held outside the townhall and there is a twilight market held on the village green twice a year,in autumn and spring. There are 20 wineries in the Macedon Ranges andseveral of them are quite close to Malmsbury. Malmsbury Bakery offersfresh baked country tucker for the peckish and there's the MalmsburyHotel, Mere Dream Herb Farm and Craft Centre,Brick Nog Market, GraysonAntiques, cosy tearooms and Knock on Wood, offering beautiful localtimber products. For history buffs, Malmsbury RailwayStation dates back to 1859, the town hall to 1867 and The Mansions to1870. A brochure can be obtained leading you around two recommendedlocal walks with delightful features to enjoy.

For those who want to stay and explore the area, there's HolcombeLodge Country Retreat, Springbank Farm B&Band Hopewell Cottage ready to offer a warmwelcome. At nearby Lancefield there'ssome of the most photogenic countryside in Australia and a couple of goodplaces at which to stay - Glen Erin Vineyard Retreatand Lancemore Hill Country Estate.

Half an hour distant is Victoria's spa country incorporating Daylesfordand Hepburn Springs, so it is a good idea tomake a real holiday out of combining these areas, spending a few days each,if possible.