A visit to central Victoria can uncover sensory and scenic treasures, not unlike the historical search for gold that first drew so many visitors to the area.

Many adventurers who arrived with the dream of discovering gold later settled in the region and established businesses and farms, along with more traditional farmers.

Thanks to those early settlers and the gold boom of the mid-1800s, the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region is blessed with dozens of stunning tiny towns, many with grand main streets. Within a short drive from Daylesford, Kyneton or Woodend, you can explore historic hamlets, such as Malmsbury, Clunes and Newstead.


When visiting Malmsbury, you will be immediately struck by the stunning bluestone buildings and the expansive main street is befitting a town many times its current size. The Malmsbury Botanic Garden and Lake were designed by Baron von Mueller, the creator of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The town’s railway station is one of the earliest stations built in Victoria, making for an interesting step back into history.

Treat yourself with a pie, or a meal, from the famous Malmsbury Bakery and relax in its European-style courtyard, or dine under the bakery’s street-front awning. The award-winning Stables restaurant, opposite the Botanic Garden, offers Mediterranean cuisine (including pizza, pasta and moussaka) and regularly holds live music events. For those visitors seeking a quick coffee fix, savour the brew made by the Merchants of Malmsbury.

Only a 10-minute drive from Kyneton, or a 20-minute drive from Daylesford, take some time to visit local wineries along the way, including Birthday Villa Vineyard in Malmsbury and Zig Zag Rd Winery in Drummond. Malmsbury also has well-marked walking trails and a majestic viaduct built in 1860, which is still used today.


Clunes is known as the first gold town of Victoria and home to the renowned Booktown Festival, held in May each year. After a spectacular 40-minute drive from Daylesford, or a 20-minute drive from Creswick, expect to be impressed as you turn into the majestic main street, lined with imposing old buildings and shopfronts. The photogenic streetscape has been used as a film set, but this vibrant town also offers contemporary cafés and restaurants behind these historic facades. Some eateries include Criterion Café, Widow Twankey’s, Clunes Bakery and the more traditional National Hotel. A new specialty food store has recently opened in the town, aptly named ‘Gold’.

Take a walk around Clunes and discover historical gems, such as the Clunes Museum and the former post office and courthouse. If you have time, explore the disused but preserved mining sites now converted into walking tracks.


Newstead, another gold-era settlement, is a charming village located alongside the Loddon River. Enjoy the tree-lined main street vista from the corner verandah of Dig Café or the Crown Hotel’s bar. Pop into New Boots Café and The Mud Room. With a shared door, they have become a one-stop-shop for tasty fare, gardening items, preserves and more. The creative community runs the Newstead Arts Hub (open weekends), located in the restored railway station and, in January each year, hosts the popular Newstead Live Music Festival.

About the author

Trish Power
Trish Power
More Articles

Trish Power is a freelance journalist living in the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region. She travels regularly within Australia, and when possible, outside Australia. Formerly, the co-founder of a successful online information service and the author of 14 books about superannuation and investing, Trish started her writing career as a financial journalist. Trish now writes about places, people, and purpose. She is also working on a novel and a short story collection.

Chris Turner
Photography by Chris Turner
Website | More Articles

Living and working in the Daylesford Hepburn region for five years now, this place and its people are special. It’s residents are truely the essence of what separates this region from others. The creators, the artists, chefs, furniture makers, entrepreneurs and the beautiful surrounds have inspired me to create some of my best photography work.