With welcoming picturesque towns, in the Macedon Ranges you’ll find hearty or European cuisine met with a relaxed cellar door experience.
Where to Taste Shiraz
One of a new wave of pioneering young winemakers that’s challenging the status quo of the traditional winery estate, Brendan R Lane opened urban winery and cellar door Musk Lane in June 2019.
Producing small-batch, lo-fi wines in an old timber yard hidden down a laneway in the quaint Macedon Ranges town of Kyneton, Musk Lane provides visitors to Shiraz Central with a novel yet relaxed cellar door experience.
The natural wines on offer are made from one- and two-tonne parcels of fruit sourced from Victorian vineyards.
Places to Eat
A stalwart of the Shiraz Central dining scene, Daylesford’s Lake House has amassed a loyal following in the 30 years since it was established. Despite achieving numerous accolades over the decades, a sense of complacency has yet to prevail.
In 2019 the restaurant picked up two chef’s hats (the Australian equivalent of Michelin stars) at the respected annual Good Food Guide Awards, and the Daylesford institution has won the title of Australia’s Wine List of the Year a total of three times, its cellar home to a carefully curated selection of more than 13,000 bottles.
Expect wildly fresh seasonal produce and sustainably sourced meat and fish.
Lunch at Passing Clouds Winery, on the outskirts of Daylesford, revolves around a centrepiece known as Prometheus – a half-tonne charcoal fire pit.
Dig into hearty and rustic dishes, served ‘la famiglia’-style, with share plates of expertly charred bulbs and roots adorned with nuts, herbs and cheeses, and hulking great cuts of meat that have been slowly grilling over the coals.
The small Goldfields town of Kyneton punches well above its weight when it comes to culinary attractions. There’s Country Cob Bakery, which has won the title of Australia’s Best Pie for two years running, once for its satay seafood pie and once for its caramelised pork and pepper.
Two one-hatted restaurants, Midnight Starling and Source Dining, both favouring European cuisine. And a host of smart-casual eateries from Melbourne’s hospitality veterans, such as Tansy’s Kyneton, and the Royal George Hotel.
Places to Stay
Daylesford’s Lake House constitutes the pinnacle of rustic luxury. It’s the only property in Victoria to feature among the 18 Luxury Lodges of Australia – a collection of the best independently owned and operated hotels in the country.
Esteemed Australian title Gourmet Traveller has recognised the Lake House as a gamechanger too, deeming it the Best Regional Hotel in its 2018 hotel awards. Perched on the edge of tree-lined Lake Daylesford, the property sits within several immaculately landscaped hectares of country gardens, visited by ducks, geese, cockatoos and kookaburras.
The sprawling grounds are dotted with airy, whitewashed villas, studios and suites, and guests can exploit the Lake House’s many facilities, including its fine-dining restaurant, cooking school, tennis courts, infinity pool, and a spa surrounded by waterfall-fed springs.
The Lake House’s newest sibling is Dairy Flat Lodge and Farm – plush farm-style accommodation set amid an extensive and productive kitchen garden, where the Lake House team grows rare and interesting vegetables, fruit and herbs.
There’s also a vineyard, olive grove and an orchard of 350 heritage fruit trees and guests can get hands-on with a farm tour or workshop on bee keeping, baking or more. The lodge features six luxury suites, with onsite concierge.
Beyond the Cellar Door
The picturesque Macedon Ranges towns of Kyneton and Woodend are perfect for whiling away an afternoon: poking around in quaint bookstores, perusing antique stores, popping into cafes and relaxing in cosy pubs.
A prehistoric volcanic rock formation steeped in myths and legends, Hanging Rock has long attracted visitors. Immortalised in Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel Picnic at Hanging Rock – and the subsequent Peter Weir film of the same name, released in 1975 – this ‘mamelon’, or volcanic plug, is known for its unusual shapes.
The landmark has long been a sacred site of the local Aboriginal people, the area’s traditional custodians. Today it’s popular with hikers, who can indulge in one of the reserve’s three walks (the Base Walk, the Creek Walk, and the Summit Walk).
Home to nearly 100 native plants, as well as 40 species of birds, plus koalas, kangaroos and sugar gliders, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Visit the Hanging Rock Discovery Centre to learn more about the region’s history and geology.
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs offer the ideal pit stop for weary travellers. The Hepburn Bathhouse is a local institution, offering spa treatments amid its serene surrounds since 1895. Other worthy contenders include the minimalist Shizuka Ryokan Japanese Country Spa Retreat and the Salus Spa at the Lake House in Daylesford.
What to Take Home
Wine aside, there are plenty of other local tipples worth popping in your suitcase. There are numerous distilleries specialising in gin, and three of the region’s best are Animus, Kyneton; Mountain Distilling Company, Mount Macedon; and Big Tree Distillery, Newham.
For something sweet, try Atelier Chocolate in Trentham, which opened in mid-2019 and purveys truffles and bars with some unique, bakery-inspired flavours, such as malted barley or rye sourdough and smoked salt.