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A couple having a picnic at sunset next to Lake Daylesford. Two ducks are walking past them
Photograph: Visit Victoria

Weekend getaways: Macedon Ranges

This region north of Melbourne has more than just natural beauty – the produce, day spas and boutique hotels are world-class

Written by
Time Out editors
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The Macedon Ranges are one of Victoria's coolest regions – literally. The elevated, heavily forrested land means it's usually cooler than surrounding areas, making a favourite retreat for Melburnians at any time of the year. Filled with mineral spas, wineries, and some of the finest restaurants our state can offer, the Macedon Ranges is perfect for a short getaway in the lap of luxury.

Keep up to date with travel advice and what's currently allowed across Victoria.

See and do

Explore the town of Daylesford, where alongside top restaurants and day spas you’ll find a top notch collection of galleries, including Convent Gallery, Stony Creek Gallery and Clayfire Gallery.

Take a stroll around the mineral springs reserves in Hepburn Springs or around Lake Daylesford, where you can sample the mineral waters straight from the source and don’t forget to bring along your water bottle.

Speaking of strolls, make sure you find your way to Hanging Rock. While the rock was made famous within Western culture thanks to the surreal novel (and subsequent film), Picnic at Hanging Rock, the natural monolith is significant to the traditional owners of the land (the Wurundjeri people) as it was thought to be a place where young men were taught and carried out traditions. Scaling the rock is a 40-60 minute round trip, and you'll be rewarded with some pretty stunning views for your efforts. 

The Macedon Ranges cool climate wine region has been gaining reputation of late for its sparkling wines. Cellar doors to stop by include Ellender Estate, Hanging Rock Winery and Passing Clouds.

Relax in the gardens at the Lavandula Swiss-Italian Lavender Farm, a top example of the region’s European heritage. Stop by the café for some antipasto if you’re peckish. Please note that as of 20/11/2020, Lavandula is closed but plans to reopen soon.

Eat and drink

Take a cooking class or enjoy the cuisine at Lake House Restaurant, where exec chef and owner Alla Wolf Tasker and head chef David Green serve delights often foraged from the property’s gardens. The à la carte menu includes smoked eel, rabbit cassoulet, kangaroo, and a red wine pear crème cassonade.

At Sakana (formerly Kazuki's), you'll find chef Kazuki Tsuya's take on modern pan-Asian fare, all created using the fine produce grown in the local area. Sakana is a Japanese word used to describe food eaten with alcohol; similarly, much of the shared menu here is amplified when paired with a choice drop or two.

Set in a lavender field and overlooking a lake, Sault has a menu packed with shared plates, including zucchini flowers, scallops, caramel-smoked duck breast and suckling pig. You’ll also find high tea on Sundays.

For something more relaxed, also consider Wombat Hill House, Cliffy’s and Larder.

Stay

For the past 30 years, hoteliers Alla and Allan Wolf-Tasker have been providing legendary accommodation for well-heeled travellers at Lake House, where boutique rooms, cuisine and world-class day spa treatments combine for an experience that’s rarely rivalled in regional Victoria.

It’s all about Art Deco at the Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, where the property’s main building dates back to the 1930s. In true Peppers fashion, it’s stylish and elegant and full of country charm. Book a table at the Argus Dining Room and have a post-dinner wine in Tipperary Bar.

The self-contained option is an attractive one. Hideaways – such as Mount Olive and Holly Lodge – can be found through booking services such as Dayget Retreats.

Macedon Ranges: best day spas

Photograph: ALDRA

Update 20/11/2020: Spas are allowed to reopen across Victoria, however, some treatments may been unavailable or may be modified.

1. The Spa at Lake House
The Lake House really is your one stop shop when it comes to relaxing in Daylesford. The in-house spa is one of the best in the area – the signature package uses aromas inspired by the local area and you can even book a private treetop spa.

2. Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
Dating back to 1895, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is the original spot and draws mineral waters directly from the source. Book a day spa treatment or relax in one of the venue’s pools or saunas.

3. Mineral Spa at Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat
Go for broke and book a day package, or for something different, try the soft pak float beds, where the bed floor recedes and you are floating on a hammock of warm water without getting wet.

4. Shizuka Ryokan
Dream you’ve just come off the slopes in Niseko and book at Geisha facial here in this Japanese guesthouse. Couples should go for a Yin and Yang package where face and body treatments and followed by simultaneous massages.

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