I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published August 7th 2013
Country Living on Melbourne's Doorstep
The Macedon Ranges have been a popular getaway for Melbournians for more than a century. Early development here followed the 1850's gold rush, with diggers heading for the Castlemaine and Bendigo goldfields. Small settlements sprang up along the way at Diggers Rest, Gisborne, Middle Gully (Macedon) and Five Mile Creek (Woodend).
Middle Gully's grog shops and stores were the last stop before the Black Forest and its marauding bushrangers. The infamous Daniel 'Mad Dog' Morgan operated from a hide-out on the western side of nearby Hanging Rock and travellers would thank their lucky stars if they made it to 'woods end' at the Five Mile Creek without being bailed up.
Woodend with its Clock Tower and old Post Office sit in the shadow of Mount Macedon
For many, many years Woodend was a popular stopping off place on the old Calder Highway and the town's businesses profited from the through traffic and tourists.
But when the new Freeway by-passed the town there were grave fears that Woodend, like so many others in similar situations, would simply roll-over and die. Fortunately though the local community banded together to pro-actively promote and market their town. The rest is history.
Woodend today is a thriving country town close enough to Melbourne to be considered something of a dormitory 'suburb' with a fast commute by V-Line train or an hour's drive via the Calder Freeway. Importantly though it's still far enough away to be a little slice of rural paradise.
The joy of Woodend is its country village atmosphere.
Woodend boasts a bustling village atmosphere just an hour north of Melbourne
Holgates Brewhouse takes pride of place opposite the Clock Tower
The Community Farmers Market is held on the first Saturday of each month complete with a community BBQ and a fantastic selection of local produce direct from the farm to you. Down on High Street you'll find an abundance of coffee shops, providores & restaurants and nearby several highly regarded country houses.
Multi award winning Bourkies Bakehouse, at the bottom end of High Street, is well known for its cakes, pastries and bread but is renowned as the home of the best Vanilla Slice in Victoria if not Australia.
In the heart of Macedon Ranges wine country Woodend is well known as home to a great boutique brewery. Holgate Brewhouse sits in the shadow of Woodend's famous clock tower and produces an award winning range of full flavoured ales and lagers using absolutely no preservatives, artificial colouring or flavouring.
The Brewhouse is more than a pub, it's a lifestyle experience where the brewery takes pride of place but is complimented by a restaurant, bar and lounge, courtyard dining facilities, a function room and stylish accommodation.
Expect a top drop at Holgates Brewhouse
With a long list of its own attractions and in close proximity to Mount Macedon and Hanging Rock Woodend is a great option for a family day out in the country.