Intrigued by a small group of beautifully dressed couples in town recently, I assumed they were headed for a weeknight wedding.

But a passing conversation revealed they had escaped to the country for a mini break and were loving the opportunity to dress up for dinner as a way of ‘reclaiming happiness.’

The group reminded me of past generations, when going out was a real experience and making an effort was all part of the fun.

As the seasons change, the temperature drops, the days get shorter and as the sun goes down, the Macedon Ranges’ quirky evening scene shines and we are spoiled for choice.

For an intimate evening in Kyneton, complete with Spanish tapas, signature cocktails and a glorious wine list, Mike and Heather Allen of the famed Miss M’s Lounge aim to make everyone feel a little bit special.

The couple moved to the area after running a successful business in Beechworth. On a short getaway in the Macedon Ranges, they fell in love with the cosy weatherboard building in Piper Street, where their vision has come to life.

“We want everyone to feel spoilt and to relish in the experience of a unique venue with open fires in every room and intimate spaces, which add to the experience,” Heather said.

Miss M’s Lounge is for smaller groups and, while nightcaps are encouraged, if you want to make a night of it, make sure you book ahead.

Animus Distillery is a short walk away where award-winning spirits and a fabulous cocktail lounge open late on weekends. What started as a group of mates with a passion for creating bespoke spirits in a Melbourne garage has turned into an award-winning distillery in the heart of Kyneton. A night spent sampling some of the team’s award-winning liquor and grazing over cheese and charcuterie platters, in a decadent club lounge and the buzz of night time Piper Street is a memorable experience. Our tip is to book ahead for a night to remember. The mates took a punt on Piper Street and for that we thank them!

Across in the picturesque setting of Woodend sits a historic hotel steeped in history and home to Holgate Brewhouse. With a selection of beers made on site, an exquisite fine dining menu enjoyed among roaring fireplaces, original stain glass windows and beautifully renovated accommodation on-site, Holgate is a must for your Woodend sabbatical.

Baringo Food and Wine Company in New Gisborne has a pretty impressive provedore showcasing the best food and crafts our region offers, a banquet room to host weddings and events, picturesque settings and The Wine Bar that rivals some of Melbourne’s most popular spots with its exceptional views of Mount Macedon. This is perfect for that girl’s weekend away, a little time out from the kids, or maybe a first date!

When the fledglings are in tow and you’re keen to make family memories, the Railway Hotel in Castlemaine is a must. Open fireplaces roar in the eclectic old pub, where seasonal produce is showcased alongside craft beers from nearby breweries. A throwback to the gold rush days, the Railway Hotel has stood the test of time.

Moving across to Daylesford, again we are blessed with what’s on offer for a cosy winter’s night out. Sitting on Daylesford Steakhouse’s enclosed balcony overlooking the main street, is a treat any time of the year, but in winter, blankets and candles add to the charm. Inside the open fireplaces and a combination of leather and mood lighting harks back to the traditional Steakhouses of New York. Being family owned, kids are looked after, with those under ten eating ‘on the house’ and early sittings are perfect for the entire clan. But just as inviting are the snug little nooks and tables for two that make this one for the list when a little winter love-in is needed.

While it’s hard to have a favourite when surrounded by the medley of restaurants and bars across the region, one little pearler is Daylesford’s answer to a charming French eatery with Bistro Terroir. This is where chef and owner Matthew Carnell recreates his time working in France (at a Michelin 2 Star restaurant if you don’t mind!), offering simply beautiful, classic French fare. Headwaiter Martin is the perfect blend of attentive, but not intrusive and whether it’s a weekend treat or a special occasion, the team add to the night. This is one where making an effort is certainly part of the night out. A beautiful French Bistro in a beautiful country town. Why wouldn’t you?

So, whether reclaiming happiness means dressing up and indulging in the unique night-time experiences delivered so well across Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges or enjoying unrivalled local produce the entire family can experience, with winter as a backdrop and the stars in all their glory, we know how to embrace the chill when the sun goes down.

Featured Image: Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend

About the author

Narelle Groenhout
Narelle Groenhout
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Narelle is a proud tree-changer who only a year or so ago, with her family, swapped suburban Melbourne life and a corporate communications role to fulfil her dream to raise her children in the country and live in a connected and compassionate community. Narelle feels like she has found her community in Daylesford and the surrounding region. Moving from a quarter-acre block on a busy road to an old farmhouse on a two and half acre piece of paradise, bordered on one side by a spring fed creek and the other by majestic eucalypt forest, Narelle has found the life she was looking for, spending her days gardening, entertaining friends and family and writing stories about the remarkable people she has met in her new community, along with trawling the local op-shops, markets, second-hand and tip shops for new treasures.