Kyneton local, Shane Caruana, holds the dream job of Head Ranger at Hanging Rock (Ngannelong) Reserve.

We chat to him about why he loves his job and we get the inside word on his favourite places to eat, drink and explore around the Macedon Ranges.

Shane Caruana, Head Ranger at Hanging Rock (Ngannelong) Reserve.
Shane Caruana, Head Ranger at Hanging Rock (Ngannelong) Reserve.

Tell us a little bit about your job at Hanging Rock Reserve?

I’ve loved the place since I was a kid, so to get to work here now, in a place that is so culturally and environmentally significant, and to be responsible for the park’s operations is a real privilege. I have an incredibly diverse role, which means that every day is different – I lead a brilliant team that genuinely love the place, I deliver guided tours and love engaging with visitors to give them the best experience possible. There’s the park operations, and conservation and maintenance, and I work with some amazing event organisers to deliver world-class concerts, horse racing, car shows, half-marathons and markets.

What drew you to the Macedon Ranges and how long have you called the region home?

I used to holiday up here as a kid, so I’ve always had a connection to the region. I love the lifestyle, and the fact that you feel a world away from the hustle and bustle, but you’re not. I’ve been here for almost 11 years, firstly in Woodend and now Kyneton, with my wife Kate and kids Lexi and Finn.

Where is your favourite spot to eat for a fancy night out?

My kids are six and three, so anything that’s a step up from the pub is fancy for me. I love Oaks Grill on Piper and typically go there with a group of friends. Their setting is super and their menu is amazing. We make the most of a night out and grab a sneaky drink before or after from The Piper Street Wine Company, Botanik Bar, Animus or Miss M’s Lounge. Two other dining favourites are Fook Shing and Kuzu Izakaya (in Woodend).

Lost Watering Hole, photo by Phoebe Powell
Lost Watering Hole, photo by Phoebe Powell

And where is your top pick for more casual bites? 

Our region nails this, but my faves to grab a casual bite are both in Kyneton. Firstly, Donkey for fried chicken that’s out of this world (their drinks are pretty spot on too). Secondly, Major Tom’s is the best burger joint hands-down. Both places are dead-set cool and have an awesome vibe. 

What’s your choice local drop (either beer, gin or wine)? 

You’re making me choose? I love them all and we’re spoilt for choice. For beer, The Lost Watering Hole or Holgate Brewhouse. Big Tree Distillery for gin. As for wine, Hanging Rock Winery, Lyons Will Estate, Hesket Estate, Hunter Gatherer Winery or Parkside Estate all offer amazing drops and are all brilliant places to visit too. 

But here’s my main tip – don’t choose which ones to go to, stay for a few days and visit all of them. My pick of places to stay – any one of the Flophouse properties, Braeside Mount Macedon, Bunjil Farm, Kyneton Springs Motel or the Lancefield Guesthouse (it’s directly across the road from The Lost Watering Hole too). 

Mount Towrong4 uai
Mount Towrong

What is your favourite location for an afternoon beverage?

The Victoria Hotel in Woodend, Kyneton Hotel and Kyneton Ridge Estate. Kyneton Ridge overlooks Black Hill Reserve, which is another great place to go for a walk… maybe not after a few wines though!

As a family man, where is your favourite place to go with the kids?

Breakfast at Duck Duck Goose and Larder on Piper Street, then a takeaway coffee from Monsieur Pierre before heading off on the Campaspe River Walk. Kate and I walk while the kiddos scoot until we get to the Community Park at Kyneton Botanic Gardens – it’s brilliant! As a treat, I get to carry the scooters all the way back. The Romsey Ecotherapy Park and Woodend Children’s Park are both awesome too.

What’s your best walking or cycling track?

I dream of smashing it around the Wombat Forest on my mountain bike, but reality is that doesn’t happen too often! I do love tackling one of the many walking trails though. The Summit Walking Trail at Hanging Rock is an obvious favourite, the next best thing is the walk to Camels Hump at the top of Mount Macedon. It’s relatively short and sharp, but geez it’s a good one – the view from the top is spectacular and looks out over the top of Hanging Rock.

If you have friends visiting from out of town, where’s the one spot you recommend they visit?

Mount Towrong Vineyard – amazing food and wine, cool setting and warm and welcoming owners. And Hanging Rock too, of course.


Hero Image: Hanging Rock (Ngannelong) Reserve.

About the author

KREATE MadeleineBlake
Madeleine Blake

Madeleine is the PR manager at Daylesford Macedon Tourism and the editor of Daylesford Macedon Life magazine. A Woodend local, she loves getting out and about meeting with tourism operators and helping to spread the word about the many amazing things to do in the region. On the weekends, Madeleine can be found exploring the region with her three young kids in tow.