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The Macedon Ranges - Pure Escapism
 
daylesfordAlthough they are only an hour away form Melbourne, the Macedon Ranges seem like they are worlds away. There are nestled in a little corner of the Victorian countryside whose rich history, cool climate and stunning natural sights and sounds provide the ultimate playground for a holiday adventure. Whether you stick to the lush pastoral lands, the isolated mountain retreats or the interesting and quaint towns dotted throughout the region, the Macedon Ranges will enthrall, excite, captivate and enchant you, day in and day out. Be prepared for world class botanic gardens, colourful European style flora, places rich in Aboriginal mythology and wineries and restaurants that pay boast years of history and fine delights. This is escapism in its purest form and is the perfect place to escape to for a unique and exciting holiday.

The ranges are split in two and the separator between them takes the form of the Great Dividing Range. These beautiful mountains act as a natural divider and separate the north from the the south. Both of the ranges share a similar climate and agricultural-oriented heritage, and both are home to a number of towns that are worth stopping in.As you travel north you will come across places such as Kyneton, Springhill and the spa-capital of Australia, Daylesford. Journeying south will take you towards Melbourne and through the towns of Woodend, Lancefield and Gisborne. Gisborne is the closest town to Melbourne in the Macedon Ranges, and is within a 45-minute drive of them. The drive is so easy that it has essentially become a commuter suburb of the city, but that doesn't take anything away from its 'far removed' feel.

The town of Gisborne is a warm and homely place, and is full of fantastic little cafes, bakeries and sweet shops, that provide you with the treats that holidays always bring. The trees lining the main street burst into colour in spring and autumn, giving it the feel of an alpine village somewhere in Europe. This is complimented by the beautifully landscaped Botanical Gardens; a must see while in the area. But it is perhaps the town just down the road from Gisborne, Woodend, that is the most popular. It's famous natural attraction, 'Hanging Rock', is essentially what makes the Macedon Ranges so well known. As you enter the town you will come across a stunning clocktower, grand hotels and verandah fronted shops. Bookshops, art shops and other outlets for creative pursuits can be found around every corner and the beauty here is a true inspiration to all.

Hanging Rock Reserve is nestled 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 and boasts a strong Aboriginal culture. It also owes a lot of its fame due to its depiction 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 great for fishing in.

Take any tour of the Macedon Ranges and you are practically guaranteed to come across rich farmlands and 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. World renowned wineries are commonplace around here, and are perfect to explore and relax. 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 prominent 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 typical of this region.

When it comes to places to stay in the region, you will be met with several caravan parks. A popular one of these is the Kyneton Caravan Park, in the northerly town of Kyneton. Famed for its architecture, Kyneton has a rich history which can be seen in its antique shops and the strong sense of culture you get from the town. Piper Street offers many 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 all year round. Near to Kyneton lies the town of Daylesford, which is known as the 'spa capital of Australia'. This is the place to go for some holistic healing, therapeutic massages and relaxing spa treatment... ideal for rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul.

In fact 'inviting' is pretty much sums up everything that the Macedon Ranges has to offer. The ranges are a place of warm welcomes, sunny climates and even sunnier dispositions. This is a place you can't help but feel drawn to, and a place where once you visit you cant help returning to. So plan your holiday now for the time of your life.

Christine Barton




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