Writer/photographer (& coffee snob), living in Melbourne's inner west. Visit www.insiteimages.com.au for more photos.
Published July 22nd 2014
A Day on The Mount: Behind the Hedge
Less than an hour's drive from Melbourne you can be gazing down at the city itself, 1,000 metres above sea level, standing at Mount Macedon lookout. A grey cluster of buildings sits on the horizon, beyond the fields and hills north-west of Melbourne some 60 km distant. You are standing in Major Thomas Mitchell's shoes: Imagine the Surveyor-General in 1836 on his "excursion" to Port Phillip, trying to pick out a settlement without skyscrapers. He wrote -"As the sun went down the distant horizon became clearer…I at length recognised Port Phillip…"
View from Mt Macedon
A few minutes' drive up 'the Mount' (as the locals call it) from Mt Macedon township, an easy paved walk takes you from the summit car park to the landmark Memorial Cross, originally built in 1935 to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War I. When seen from a distance the Cross's form and siting calls to mind Rio de Janiero's 'Christ the Redeemer' statue.
Breathe in the crisp air up the top, walk one of the trails winding through the bush and forget about the city.
For more challenging bush walks and climbs nearby, including the iconic Hanging Rock (only 10 minutes drive down the Mount on the north side) visit Parks Victoria website
TIP: Take walking shoes and a pair to change into for lunch, as some tracks are quite damp.
Mt Macedon garden
For a less strenuous nature experience, visit one of the Mount's beautiful, large-scale 19th century private gardens open to the public. Open all year is Forest Glade, (816 Mount Macedon Road) and just $8.00 dropped in the 'honesty box' at the iron gate admits you, to meander freely through the many garden 'rooms', where you'll find a menagerie of topiary animals, Japanese garden, head-high tree-ferns and towering Mountain Ash… it is a delight to 'discover'. In winter you see the 'bare bones' but if you haven't been before, I suggest wait until spring or summer, to fully appreciate the beautiful landscape. The property is also home to an extensive antique and art collection. For more information visit here
Nearby is Duneira (Officer Lane) another significant property open to the public. Built in 1875, it houses antiques and art. For the program of events, tours of the home and garden, visit here. You drive past high hedges in Mt Macedon and it is wonderful to be on the other side, sipping tea inside this mansion, listening to a history and art talk, all the while looking out of the windows (not peering in!), envisioning yourself living 'the life'.
For the coming season's list of all the open gardens in the Macedon Ranges (and throughout Victoria) check out here
Factor in lunch or afternoon tea, or (as my friend and I did) do both! The Mt Macedon Hotel, 694 Mt Macedon Road, offers a good range of meals in the front bar or book a table in the dining room - both are warm, welcoming, relaxed and reasonably priced. My steak was nice and charred and 'medium' as ordered. Thaw out by the open fire, or on warmer days sit outside on the front terrace or back deck.
Café style meals are available at the Trading Post, 686 Mt Macedon Road. It's also a post office but I recommend the pastry counter. The cappuccino was hot and smooth and the lemon tart was just right.
Mt Macedon garden
Visit the Gallery next door, showcasing textiles, ceramics, photography, painting, jewellery, all created by local artists, one of whom will be in attendance - it's always interesting to talk to the artist.
My friend and I were pleased with our impromptu escape to the country. Dusk was closing in and it was time to return home to the 'burbs… a different way to end the day than for Major Mitchell, who at the end of his day on the Mount wrote: "It had been long dark before I reached the base of the mountain and picked out a dry bit of turf on which to lie down for the night."