Set off on the Calder Freeway from Melbourne to Woodend, travelling towards the scenic rural landscapes and sweeping vistas of the Macedon Ranges. Visit award-winning wineries with their acres of grape vines, and slip into gorgeous boutiques and galleries via endearing eateries. It's easy from there to dip into Moorabool Shire on your return to Melbourne.
You'll want to wear your best stretchy trousers to accommodate the waiting gastronomic pleasures in foodie towns Woodend, Kyneton and Trentham. Stock up on delish local produce, pantry goods, organic bread and locally roasted coffee. Make a reservation at one of the acclaimed fine dining eateries for a memorable meal.
There's an abundance of highlights in the Macedon Ranges, but the most iconic is Hanging Rock, the mysterious geological formation made famous by the novel and film Picnic at Hanging Rock. Bring a picnic of local produce to this legendary location and savour spectacular views across the landscape. There are regular events and horse racing meets at Hanging Rock, which offer different perspectives of the iconic landmark. The charming NMIT Kyneton Park on the banks of the Campaspe River is another perfect spot: relax under 100-year-old elm and oak trees and enjoy the spirit of country horse racing at the Kyneton Racing Club.
Artists abound in the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region, and you'll find stunning interpretations of the surrounding landscape by talented locals in galleries and on cafe and restaurant walls.
Work off your epicurean indulgences on a spectacular walk through Lerderderg State Park, close to Blackwood in Moorabool Shire. Discover old gold mines, water races, the inviting Grahams Dam, Fosters Lookout and The Gorge. Walks here range from easy one-hour strolls to a 20-kilometre overnight hike.
The Macedon Ranges and Moorabool Shire loop is compact enough to complete in one day, but with all the exceptional restaurants, wineries and natural attractions to see, you'll be rewarded for staying a night or two. Choose from a wide range of historic and luxurious B&Bs, self-contained apartments and houses or motels.
A mix of fashionable wine and retail shops awaits visitors to Woodend, as well as a brewery, delightful cafes and country pubs celebrating the terrific regional food and wine. Enigmatic Hanging Rock is easily reached from Woodend.