Mount Macedon (including Macedon and
Hugely attractive and historic area.
Mt Macedon is an extinct volcano which rises to
1010 metres above sea-level, making it the
highest peak of the Macedon Ranges. The area
associated with the mountain possesses immense
scenic and natural values and a richly developed
English cultural heritage, particularly in terms
of its horticulture and architecture. At the
foot of the mountain is the township of Macedon
(population 1250) while, part way up the hill,
65 km north-west of Melbourne, are the lovely
tree-lined streets and gardens of Mount Macedon
(population 670) which has the Trading Post (a
general store cum newsagency), a restaurant, a
nursery or two, cottage accommodation and a pub
named the Mountain Inn which is a fine
English-style hotel with gardens, tennis courts
and croquet lawns at the rear. Within are
old-fashioned rooms and a fine restaurant.
Visitors from Melbourne would head north-west
along the Calder Highway, turning right into Mt
Macedon Rd just past the Gisborne exit.
Stone-grinding sites indicate that the
mountain was being used by Aborigines long
before it was climbed in 1836 by Thomas
Mitchell. Having sighted Port Phillip from its
summit he named it after Philip of Macedon.
Timbergetters were the first Europeans to
occupy the area. The wood was used for some of
Melbourne's early homes and in the goldmines of
the 1850s. As the timber began to disappear
there were calls for controls and fruit orchards
were developed. Bushranger Frank McCallum (alias
Captain Melville) was active in the district in
In the 1870s, the beauty and coolness of the
slopes began to attract members of Melbourne's
wealthy social elite and the government released
some blocks on the south side of the mountain to
the landed and business classes. Consequently a
number of grand Victorian homes were established
(including one for the state governor) as summer
residences. At the peak of the resort's
popularity in the 1890s some of these gracious
residences were turned into guesthouses.
However, the major legacy of the era was the
establishment, around these mansions, of
extensive ornamental gardens. Taken as a whole,
they are considered to be one of the most
important collections of 19th-century gardens in
Australia (see entry on 'Gardens' under 'Things
to See' for further information).
Distinguished artist Frederick McCubbin
purchased the residence known as 'Fontainebleu'
at Mount Macedon in 1901 and there painted and
lived with his family.
In February 1983 the Ash Wednesday fires
destroyed over 400 homes, burned out 30 000
hectares of forest and farmland and killed seven
people. The fires raced uncontrollably up the
slopes of Mt Macedon and, despite the efforts of
1000 volunteer firefighters, a number of old
homes were razed. Some have been rebuilt and
most of the gardens re-established.
Things to see:
Visitors looking for tourist information can
phone the Mt Macedon Trading Post on Mt Macedon
Rd, tel: (03) 5426 1471, Parks Victoria, (tel:
131 963), or the Woodend Information Centre, tel:
(03) 5427 2033. The Macedon Ranges Booking
Service organises bookings for accommodation,
tours and events and provides up-to-date
information on local activities and events, tel:
(free-call) 1800 244 711.
Macedon is an attractive town of 1250 people at
the foot of the mountain. If you are coming from
the south there are two approaches. You can
either turn off the Calder Highway into Mt
Macedon Rd then turn left at Honour Ave, or
continue along the highway past Mt Macedon Rd
and turn right into Nursery Rd.
In Nursery Road is the Macedon Nursery which
was established in 1872. It specialises in
native trees, cottage plants, perennials and
annuals. Terracotta and craft pottery is also
available at factory prices and body products
are for sale. The nursery is attractively
situated overlooking a lake with lawns that are
ideal for picnicking. It is open daily from 9.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5426 2513.
By the intersection of Mt Macedon Rd and
Honour Ave is Centennial Park which has
barbecues, a shelter and toilets.
Just along Honour Ave, at no.28, is Tristania
Park Nurseries which has a large range of plants
and shrubs, including rare and difficult to
obtain plants, all in a lovely botanic setting
established in 1963, tel: (03) 5426 1667. It is
open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily.
At 86 Honour Ave is Mountside Nursery which
specialises in shrubs and trees, particularly
conifers, pittosporums and ornamental trees.
They are open every day from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m., tel: (03) 5426 1443.
Waterfalls Road heads north off Honour Ave to
Stanley Park where you will find the falls,
barbecues, toilets and picnic shelters.
The Strawberry Patch, at 8 Victoria St, sells
patchwork material and accessories, teddy-bear
materials, giftware and local craft. There are
also classes in teddy-bear making. They are open
from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. every day except
Sunday and Tuesday.
Note that the Macedon Caravan Park and Black
Forest Motel are located on the highway, tel:
(03) 5426 1528.
Marist Brothers Retreat and Conference
One of the town's highlights, in terms of both
architecture and gardens, is the Marist Brothers
Retreat at the corner of Mt Macedon Rd and
Brougham Rd (at the entry into the township).
The marvellous building which forms the nucleus
of the complex was originally known as
'Drusilla', built for Norman Grimwade in the
early 1930s. The interior has splendid oak
panelling and an intriguingly round Round Room.
The gardens predate this building, being
largely designed by Madam Weigall who created
dressmaking patterns. There is an ornamental
lake, a sunken garden, magnificent old oaks
established well over a century ago, a pond and
a number of rare plants.
The retreat is open for general inspection on
fund-raising open days. Visitors are welcome to
peruse the gardens provided they ring first (on
a weekday) to ensure that it is not inconvenient
to those using the retreat, tel: (03) 5426 1402.
Barringo Wildlife Reserve
Barringo Wildlife Reserve is a nature reserve
with Canadian elk and other deer species,
ostriches, emus, peacocks and other birds,
alpacas, Scottish highland cattle, kangaroos,
wallabies and koalas roaming at large. Wetland
flora and fauna (including rainbow trout) can be
observed at Barringo Lake. There is a walking
trail, an adventure playground, barbecue and
picnic facilities (wood is provided) , a kiosk
which is open daily and pony rides are available
on public holidays.
To access the reserve turn east off Mt
Macedon Road into Brougham Rd at the Marist
Brothers Retreat. Next, take the first right
into Syndicate Rd then turn right into Glen
Drouitt Rd and right again into Barringo Road.
The reserve is at the intersection of Barringo
Rd and Shannons Rd. The route is signposted. If
you are coming from Melbourne along the Calder
Highway, take the New Gisborne turnoff directly
onto Barringo Rd and it is 8 km to the reserve
which is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Group concessions are available but bookings are
essential, tel: (03) 5426 1680 or, after hours,
(03) 5426 2415.
Barringo Valley Equestrian Centre
Also on Shannons Road is Barringo Valley
Equestrian Centre which offers trail rides in
the Macedon Ranges and a riding school. They are
open Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings are
essential, tel: (03) 5426 1778.
Further north along Mt Macedon Rd, to the right,
at no.341, is Dicksonia Rare Plants which offers
a wide range of unusual plants from cooler
climates around the world. It is open from 10.00
a.m. to 5.00 p.m. from Friday to Tuesday, tel:
(03) 5426 3075.
Close by are the Mt Macedon Trading Post Cafe
- which also functions as a post office,
bottleshop, newsagency and grocery shop - and
the Mt Macedon Hotel. Over the road is the
Florigela Nursery specialising in rare bulbs and
alpine and perennial plants. They are open every
day but Tuesday from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.,
tel: (03) 5426 4144.
Only the Dandenongs rival Mount Macedon as a
site for European-style gardens in Victoria. The
temperate conditions, fecund and varied soil
types and high rainfall of the southern slopes
have proven ideal for the cultivation of
extensive, ornamental and exotic gardens. Since
the late 19th century, wealthy professionals
have established summer retreats with gardens
inspired by the Romantic models then fashionable
in Europe. The Romantic allusions were further
enhanced by the gentle mountain rivulets which
ran through the large estates, despite
distinctly un-European creek names such as
Willimigongong and Turritable.
The gardens combine lush floral collections
with sweeping lawns, pavilions and circuitous
paths. Taken as a whole they are now considered
one of the most important collections of
colonial gardens in Australia. They have
considerable botanical and horticultural
significance and are an interesting reflection
of the prevailing social attitudes of the
wealthy in late 19th-century Australia. Some of
the individual trees and gardens are now
registered with the National Estate, including
'Alton', 'Cameron Lodge', 'Duneira', Durrol' and
Heading uphill from the Trading Post Cafe,
there are several fine homes and landscaped
gardens. The original 'Matlock' homestead was
built in 1919 for G.W.P. Creed who founded
Woolworths (Australia) and it was used to intern
the Japanese consulate in the Second World War.
'Cameron Lodge', built for William Cameron (who
erected the original memorial cross on the
mountain's summit) has vast lawns, some fine
masonry and plenty of deciduous trees. The
enormous mansion of 'Sefton' (50 rooms) is set
in 12 hectares of gardens profuse with oaks,
poplars and elms. 'Dreamthorpe' is another
The only one of the gardens in the Mt Macedon
area that is open on a regular basis is 'Forest
Glade' which welcomes visitors every weekend
from September to May. It is especially
beautiful in autumn owing to the maples.
2 km north of the Trading Post Cafe, to the
right, at 902 Mount Macedon Rd, is 'Tanah-Merah',
an historic high garden which includes the Liza
Taylor Sculpture Gallery. It is open from Friday
to Sunday, tel: (03) 5426 4232.
'Bunyip Lodge', at 10 Governors Drive,
occupies 1.25 acres. It has a number of fine
trees, shrubs and perennials. It is open for
groups anytime and a guide is available if
required, tel: (03) 5426 1561.
Other gardens are opened up periodically to
raise money for charities and as part of the
Australian Garden Scheme. A number of the
gardens are available for inspection on October
25 as part of the Legacy weekend and some
gardens are opened when the Mount Macedon
Horticultural Society holds its two Flower Shows
in spring and autumn. Aside from these scheduled
times, owners will put a board out the front of
their property on a fine day if they feel like
opening or they may open up by appointment.
For the latest information on which gardens
are accessible, consult the Trading Post general
store (tel: 03 5426 1471) or the Woodend Visitor
Centre which has a list of all the gardens of
the Mt Macedon Ranges and an account of their
scheduled opening times, tel: (03) 5427 2033. A
recent book, The Grand Gardens of Mount Macedon,
is indispensible for the enthusiast. The
Australian Open Garden Scheme Guide Book is also
an excellent source and is available from ABC
bookshops. Garden Tours of Mt Macedon offer
guided tours of some of the area's fine gardens.
Teas and lunches are provided at a reasonable
rate, tel: (03) 5426 2080 or (03) 5426 1274.
Mount Macedon Winery
Halfway between Mount Macedon and A HREF="VICWoodend.shtml">Woodend
is the Mount Macedon Winery, situated high on
the western slopes of Mt Macedon. Established in
1989 it produces chardonnay, pinot noir, a
sparkling wine, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon
and is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily.
Light lunches are served in the cellar on
weekends and public holidays, tel: (03) 5427
To get there turn west off the Mount Macedon
Rd into Douglas Rd from within the township of
Mt Macedon. This becomes Bawden Rd (a good
gravel surface) where you will find the winery.
Follow the Mount Macedon Rd through and beyond
the Mt Macedon township. After 3 km the road
reaches the summit where there is an
intersection. Take the signposted turnoff on the
left into Cameron Drive. A short distance along
is a carpark on the right-hand side of the road.
There is an information board and map. This is
the starting point for a short walk to the
Camel's Hump (1010 m), an isolated extrusion of
solidified lava which is very popular with
Picnic Areas and Memorial Cross
Cameron Drive continues along past the McGregor
Picnic Ground (which has barbecues, toilets and
disabled facilities), the Cameron Picnic Ground
(with barbecues) and the Mt Macedon survey cairn
(1010 metres above sea-level). The road then
enters a turning circle around Harrison Picnic
Ground which has a carpark, shelters, an
information board and map, picnic tables,
toilets and disabled facilities. A restaurant
and kiosk will open on this site in the year
A network of walking trails, outlined on the
map, lead to the Kurana Memorial, the Western
Lookout, the Eastern Lookout, the Mt Macedon
Memorial Cross and the Major Mitchell Lookout.
Thomas Mitchell climbed the mountain in 1836.
Having sighted Port Phillip from its summit he
named the mountain after Philip of Macedon. The
spectacular views from the summit formed the
basis of Arthur Streeton's painting 'Australia
Felix'. They take in Port Phillip Bay, the You
Yangs and Mount Dandenong.
The 21-metre Memorial Cross is a local
landmark. It is set amidst trees and gardens and
is distinguished by its tiled exterior and a
large bronze sword. William Cameron, who lost
his son in World War I, established the cross as
a tribute to those Australians who died in the
war. The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 damaged the
cross and ruined the gardens. The latter have
been re-established and the former replaced.
Days Picnic Ground and Sanatorium Lake
Return along Cameron Drive to the intersection
with Mt Macedon Road. Instead of turning right
and heading back down to the township, turn left
and you will see, on the right, two surfaced but
unsealed roads in a Y formation. The road to the
right is Barringo Rd. That on the left is Lions
Head Road. Both provide access to the sites and
walking trail discussed below although it is
arguable that Barringo Road conveys a more
accurate impression of the local terrain.
If you turn into Lions Head Rd it leads,
after about 800 m, past Days Picnic Ground where
there in an information board and map, barbecue
and picnic facilities, toilets and disabled
facilities. From this point you can embark on
the Sanatorium Lake Forest Eco-Tourism Trail
(for walkers or horse riders) which takes in
Sanatorium Lake and Picnic Ground and a number
of other sites.
Alternatively, you can continue driving along
Lions Head Rd for about another 800 metres until
you see a carpark on the left. Opposite is a
gate from whence it is a short walk to the lake
where there is an information board and map. You
can, of course, continue walking to the
Sanatorium Picnic Ground.
If, instead, you choose to head along
Barringo Road it is about 1.5 km until you reach
a turnoff on the left into a vehicular track
which leads to the picnic area from whence you
can also join the walking/horseriding trail.
If you are approaching these attractions from
Mt Macedon township, just head up Mt Macedon
Road, ignore the turnoff on the left into
Cameron Drive and you will come, almost
immediately, to Barringo Road and Lions Head Rd
on the right.
Macedon Regional Park Walking Trail
The sites mentioned in the last three entries
are all within Macedon Regional Park which
incorporates the forest-clad western end of the
Macedon Ranges. A 29-km walk has been completed
which takes in all of the park's major natural
attractions. It takes about seven hours in all
but may be walked as separate sections (some
parts are steep and slippery in wet weather).
A pamphlet available from Parks Victoria
breaks the walking trail into 14 sections,
starting at Macedon railway station. It takes in
numerous excellent viewing areas, an old stone
railway bridge, the old scout camp site and a
range of vegetation including kangaroo grass,
native orchid species, wet and dry messmate
forest, wattle, snow gum, alpine ash,
broad-leaved peppermint, long-leaved box and an
understorey of ferns, prickly moses, wiregrass
etc. There are plenty of birds, wallabies and
wombats in the park. To obtain the pamphlet,
which outlines the walk and its attractions in
detail, contact Parks Victoria (tel: 131 963) or
the Woodend Visitors' Centre, tel: (03) 5427
Hanging Rock Reserve
If you wish to visit Hanging Rock Reserve,
follow Mt Macedon Road up past the turnoffs into
Cameron Drive, Lions Head Rd and Barringo Rd.
After a couple of hairpin bends there is a
turnoff to the right into Straws Lane (it is the
first bitumen road on the right) which is
signposted for Hanging Rock. After about 3 km
there is a signposted turnoff to the left into
South Rock Road then, after 500 m, you will see
the gate which leads into the reserve. This
route is less direct than the turnoff from the
Calder Highway, north of Woodend, but much more
Hanging Rock is part of a small extinct
volcano which rises to 105 metres above the
surrounding plain. It was formed by lava
emerging from a vent in the earth about six
million years ago. The lava had an unusually
high soda content and solidified into soda
trachyte which also formed the Camel's Hump on
The rock has been a popular picnicking spot
since late in the 19th century. Its usage as the
setting for Joan Lindsay's novel Picnic at
Hanging Rock is based upon the St Valentine's
Day picnic attended by the students of Clyde
School (see entry on Woodend) in the 1930s and
1940s. The story was later made into a lyrical
film by Peter Weir. The Rock was also reputed to
have been a hideout for bushrangers in the
The surrounding reserve, open from 8.00 a.m.
to 6.00 p.m. every day, has over 100 indigenous
flora species which are particularly evident in
spring and summer. There are also over 40 bird
species, goannas and nine mammals including the
greater glider, koala, kangaroo, wallaby and
The Hanging Rock Discovery Centre will open
in the year 2000. It will focus on the
Aboriginal connection with the area, , the flora
and fauna of the reserve, its geological history
and the mythology which surrounds the rock.
There will be hands-on interpretive and
The reserve has tennis courts, two ovals
(available for hire), wide expanses of lawn and
picnic-barbecue facilities. The Hanging Rock
Picnic Cafe, at the base of the rock, sells
Devonshire teas, lunches, local crafts and
souvenirs. The dam in the middle of the
racecourse is well-stocked with fish (you must
bring your own bait and tackle and there is a
bag limit of two fish per child).
Numerous walking paths criss-cross the
reserve. Some will take you to the summit of the
rock from whence there are fine views, taking in
Mt Macedon to the south and the Cobaw Ranges to
the north. Two-hour evening walks, conducted by
a ranger, contemplate the fauna and geological
history of the area. Bookings are essential, tel:
(1800) 244 711.
Well-attended race meetings have been held
here on New Year's Day since 1880. There are
also meetings on Australia Day and on a Sunday
in March (the next is 19 March 2000). The annual
Harvest Picnic is a day for sampling Victorian
wines and food. It is held late in February each
year (the next is 27 February 2000), tel: (03)
9650 7655. A vintage car rally is held each
February (the next is 13 February 2000).
Bookings are essential for The Longest Lunch
(March 17 2000). The Senior Citizens' Picnic
will be held on 24 March 2000.
Coaches and large groups are welcome but it
is necessary for such congregations to contact
the ranger first on (1800) 244 711 or (0418) 373
032. For further information and bookings ring
(1800) 244 711. There is an admission fee as no
financial assistance is provided by state or
federal government. These fees are higher on
special events days, such as the Car Rally and
the Harvest Picnic. For internet information go
Hanging Rock Winery
The Hanging Rock Winery is located just to the
north of Hanging Rock Reserve in Jim Road at
Newham. The largest winery of the region, it is
open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily and
offers a range of cool-climate wines, including
the award-winning Sparkling 'Macedon' and the
Jim Jim Sauvignon Blanc, tel: (03) 5427 0542.
Nearby is Barringo Valley Trail Rides which
facilitates trail rides through the forests and
scenic valleys of the beautiful and rugged
countryside, tel: (03) 5426 1778.