Order a picnic, throw a rug in the back of the car, or book a late lunch in a beautiful country location eatery because we're going on a day trip.

We’re embracing the good old Sunday drive intertwined with a few little walks in the forest, a sip of cool climate wine or a splash in the natural mineral waters that bubble naturally from the Earth. Here are three doable day trips and while there is a lot more to see and do in our wonderful region, we’ve whittled down the options into three carefully crafted itineraries for you.

Wine – Burke and Wills Track Vineyard Trek

Follow in the footsteps of explorers Burke and Wills on the track they forged on the first leg of their 1860 journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Head north from Lancefield and turn left into this beautiful meandering road that follows a ridge through the forest in the Cobaw Ranges, catching glimpses of old homesteads and ancient river red gums.

Not far out of Lancefield, look out for Lyon’s Will Estate. Here they make elegant cool climate wines fermented using natural yeasts. Their near neighbour is Double Oaks Winery, where they make wines from grapes off their 36-year-old vines.

Drop into Rowanston on the Track. This winery and B&B is well known for their balanced blanc de noir and full-bodied red sparkling wines. Riesling lovers should make sure they have Granite Hills Winery on their itinerary. Consider doubling back to sip on craft beers, paired with shared plates at the Lost Watering Hole in Lancefield. Or feast on tasty local produce as you sip on biodynamic wines at Mount Monument just outside Romsey. Be sure to check out the adjoining sculpture garden before you leave.

Forests, Gardens, Outdoors – Mount Macedon to Hanging Rock

This is a hauntingly beautiful day trip that takes in the dramatic drive on the C322 over the summit of Mount Macedon down to the mysterious summit walk at Hanging Rock. In summer, there are avenues of grand trees, forests filled with foragable fungus, and magnificent gardens such as Forest Glade Gardens to explore.

Book a meal at Mount Towrong Vineyard, minimalist intervention winemakers working in a true cold climate at 600 metres. Try the Vivace non-vintage sparkling blend of chardonnay and nebbiolo with a few Italian-inspired dishes. If you’re a gardener, drop by Stephen Ryan’s Dicksonia Rare Plants, a beautiful nursery stocked with flowering, foliage, and structural plants.

Then head to the summit of Mount Macedon to take the stunning views of the Loddon and Campaspe rivers and the skyline of Melbourne to the south. Hike the Camel’s Hump Trail to the viewing platform, recognised as the highest peak in the Macedon Ranges (at 1011m). Through the towering mountain ash trees, drive down to the entrance to Hanging Rock. A powerful sacred site to millennia of Indigenous Australians, it is no wonder that Dame Joan Lindsay set her Victorian era school girl mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock here.

Afterward, head a few kilometres north to the Newham General Store, owned by three local families, for a glass of local locally made Gindu gin, a toastie, or hot Millet Road crumpet and a cup of tea.  

Mineral Springs – Ballan to Kyneton

Refill your mineral water bottles on this leisurely drive from Ballan, off the Western Highway to Kyneton, just off the Calder. It heads through the Wombat State Forest taking in the historic gold mining towns of Daylesford, Hepburn and Glenlyon offering access to many of the region’s 20 or so mineral springs dotting the landscape. Some are found deep in the forest, such as Carrolls Springs near the headwaters of the Werribee River. Others, like Sailors Falls Springs, are in a more accessible bush setting just off the Ballan Daylesford Road. Here, a short loop walk takes in the stunningly beautiful Sailors Falls that drop some 20 metres over a bluestone precipice.

Slightly more urbane and accessible are the Locarno Springs and Sulphur Springs in Hepburn. With well-made tracks and asphalted car parks it is possible for everyone to pump up a few litres of chilly effervescent water from deep below. With cafes nearby, such as the Hepburn Pavilion Café or Harry’s Hepburn, you can do this with a cafe latte in hand.

Next, take the C316 to Glenlyon Reserve and Glenlyon Springs, wander the open fields and shaded lanes around this little village before heading to either the Glenlyon Store or Attwoods Wines for lunch. Continue north to Kyneton Springs, and if you need a feed, consider one of the many venues on Piper Street, a top choice is the cheese and charcuterie board at the Botanik Bar, upstairs at the Royal George Hotel. Or head across the road to Miss M’s Lounge for Spanish style tapas and cocktails.

Summer safety: Naturally bring sturdy shoes if you’re exploring our beautiful walking tracks, forests, and mineral springs. Don’t forget the sunscreen and check the Country Fire Authority website for fire danger conditions.

About the author

Cornish Richard
Richard Cornish

Richard Cornish is an award winning food writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why some foods taste better than others. He writes for The Age, SMH, DMT Life and has written eight cook books including co-writing the Movida series with Frank Camorra.