The Macedon Ranges - Pure Escapism
Whether you stick to the lush pastoral lands, the isolated mountain retreats or the interesting and quaint towns dotted throughout the region, the offerings of the Macedon Ranges will enthrall, excite and captivate you day in and day out. Expect world class botanic gardens, colourful European style flora, places rich in Aboriginal mythology and wineries and restaurants that pay homage to a long history of fine dining and culinary excellence. This is escapism in its purest form - a chance for a unique and exciting holiday without having to cross the world or break the bank.
The region is split into two, with the Great Dividing Range acting as a natural divider separating the north from the south. Both are similar in climate and share an agricultural-oriented heritage, and both are home to a number of towns that are worth stopping into in your campervan hire. In the north there are places such as Kyneton, Springhill and the spa-capital of Australia, Daylesford. In the south, which is obviously the closer part to Melbourne, lie Woodend, Lancefield and Gisborne. Gisborne is the closest town to Melbourne in the Macedon Ranges, reached by just a forty five minute drive in your campervan hire Victoria. The drive is so easy that it has essentially become a commuter suburb of the city, but that doesnt take anything away from its 'far removed' feel.
The centre of Gisborne is a warm and homely place, replete with cafes, bakeries and sweet shops all endeavouring to provide you with those little home comforts. The trees lining the main street burst into colour in spring and autumn, giving it the feel of an alpine village somewhere in Europe - a feeling complemented by the rich and well maintained botanic gardens. But it's the town just down the road from Gisborne, Woodend, and its natural attraction known as 'Hanging Rock', that essentially made the Macedon Ranges famous and to this day contribute to their popularity as a tourist destination. Approaching Woodend in your camper suddenly you emerge out of the bush and into a busy main street characterised by its large clocktower, grand hotels and verandah fronted shops. Bookshops, art shops and other outlets for creative pursuits are commonplace and indicative of the inspiration the surroundings provide to artists.
Hanging Rock Reserve is just around the corner and is home to the six million year old volcanic remnant that rises 105 metres above the surrounding plain. It has become an Australian icon firstly because of its importance to Aboriginal culture, and most significantly because of its portrayal in the classic Australian book 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' by Joan Lindsay, which was turned into a massive feature film. A popular picnicking spot since the late 19th Century, the reserve now has tennis courts, two ovals and barbeque facilities, and there is a kiosk where you can buy teas, snacks and souvenirs. There is also a well stocked dam that is popular amongst fishermen.
Any tour through the Macedon Ranges is going to go through rich farmlands and past flourishing boutique vineyards. This abundance of natural produce forms the basis for the culinary delights you will find in the numerous restaurants and cafes throughout the region. The wines produced here are renowned internationally, and it makes for a great days touring going to various wineries and sampling their produce. The vineyards are equally fertile north and south of the Great Dividing Range, but if you are in the northern region then Knight Granite Hills is worth stopping into, as it is one of Victoria's most successful small wineries, having acquired over 400 awards in its 25 year history. Whichever winery you choose, you will be awarded with the same hospitality and friendliness that is so typical of this region.
There are a number of caravan parks throughout the region, a popular one being Kyneton Caravan Park, in the northerly town of Kyneton. Famed for its architecture, Kyneton has a rich history which is evident in its antique shops and the strong sense of culture you get from the town. Piper Street is the centre for some rare creative pursuits such as stone work and wool spinning, and there is a diverse collection of galleries and shops here that are bound to keep you entertained. Near to Kyneton lies the town of Daylesford, known as the 'spa capital of Australia'. This is the place to go for some holistic healing, therapeutic massages and relaxing spa treatment... now doesnt that sound inviting?
In fact 'inviting' is a good word to sum up the Macedon Ranges, if indeed its possible to sum up their appeal in words. Its a place of warm welcomes, sunny climates and even sunnier dispositions. A place you can't help feeling drawn to, and a place where once you visit you cant help returning to. So book that motorhome, and enjoy the ride.
Daylesford Spa Country Railway An accredited museum re-creating the days of Victorian Railways branch line railmotor travel. Take part in the Heritage Rail Experience or the Silver Streak Train. Also hosts regular Sunday Markets.