From the outskirts of Melbourne’s urban fringe to the peak of Mount Macedon and beyond, there’s an awful lot to experience around the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges region, on the lands of the Wurundjeri people. And the best news is that it’s all so close to Melbourne that you can day-trip it, or plan for a longer, more immersive stay.
1. Organ Pipes National Park
On the outer edge of the urban sprawl, discover a fascinating volcanic phenomenon known as the Organ Pipes. The result of ancient lava flows, these stunning stone columns overlook pretty Jacksons Creek. Don’t miss nearby Rosette Rock, resembling the spokes of a giant wheel, or the Tesselated Pavement. Note: Access is via steep pathways that may not be suited to all abilities.
2. Animal Land Children’s Farm
When do you ever get the opportunity to visit a working farm and hold, pat, feed, ride or milk its inhabitants? Just a short drive from the city, Animal Land Children's Farm is your family’s opportunity to feed ducks, collect chook eggs, nurse baby animals or have a pony ride. Get hands-on with sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, donkeys, deer and more.
3. Historic Sunbury
For an outwardly modern and thriving mini-city in its own right, Sunbury packs in a lot of history and attractions. Cricket fans won’t want to miss Rupertswood Mansion, credited as the birthplace of The Ashes. Sunbury is also the site of Victoria’s oldest homestead, the 1836-era Emu Bottom. There’s also acclaimed wineries to visit including Goona Warra (established 1863) and Craiglee (1864).
4. Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre
Stop in for a private tour (by prior arrangement) to learn more about an important but often misunderstood native Australian icon – the dingo. This breeding establishment run by the Australian Dingo Foundation is set on 40 acres and dedicated to educating the public about the many facets of Australia’s only wild canid.
5. Mountain Distilling
Gin is in, and boutique producers like Mountain Distilling make it easy to pop in for a cheeky tasting of their award-winning Mountain Gin via the cellar door just off the Calder Freeway at New Gisborne. There’s alternatives on hand for those whose tastes run to vodka, whisky, and tequila, too.