It's often the first thing you wonder when you travel: 'Where do the locals go? That's sure to be the best place.'

If a community enjoy visiting, you can feel confident that you’re in for a good thing. We’ve quizzed those in the know, getting their best advice on things to do in their part of our diverse region.


Gisborne to Lancefield, Woodend to Mt Macedon

Catherine Crothers, Big Tree Distillery

Catherine Crothers, Big Tree Distillery

In the early morning, the best thing to do is walk up to Camels Hump (Mount Macedon) from Straws Lane. The view from the top is extraordinary, and you see our whole valley overlooking Hanging Rock and looking over to the Cobaw Ranges. Lancefield is our destination of choice for coffee. We love Rafael’s Coffee; Raf is a barista and has a boutique roastery and roasts coffee to order. Rafael’s coffee can be found in many of the local cafes around the area and at the Woodend and Lancefield Farmers’ Markets serving up delicious brews. For a special meal, we love Kuzu Izakaya in Woodend. The food and atmosphere are sensational, and we are so very proud to have a restaurant of their calibre in Woodend, the team at Kuzu do an excellent job. Macedon Ranges is a very peaceful place, and there are many beautiful places to visit, have superb food, enjoy a gin and a wine (or two) and kick back and relax.


Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Trentham & other delights

Jodi Flockhart, Sault Restaurant

Jodi Flockhart, Sault

We spend a lot of time at our property Sault. One hundred twenty acres for the kids to roam and run. We have a large kitchen garden which our children adore. Over the summer months, they pick and devour the fresh sun-warmed strawberries straight from the garden. We enjoy heading down to the Hepburn Mineral Springs. There is a terrific walking track that is lovely in the colder months. While there, we visit our local, the Hepburn General Store. I love sitting under the vines out the front and sipping on a coffee with a healthy granola cup and the morning paper.

Wherever possible, we source locally for our restaurant. All herbs used come from the Sault kitchen garden. We source meat from the Daylesford Meat Co, and our small goods are from the wonderful folk at Istra SmallgoodsHonest Eggs Co are the best free-range eggs you could ever eat. Their yolks are bright and sunny. Tonnas, our local fruit shop, supply our fruit and veggies. It’s a family business with a heart, and the freshly baked goods, made by Di Tonna are a must. It’s hard to resist a sticky date pudding!

My top tip for visitors is to bring a basket when they shop in the region – it’s a foodie heaven.


Kyneton to Tooborac and everything in between

Bryanna Sandercock, Piper Street Food Co

Bryanna Sandercock, Piper Street Food Co.

Living in this region is all about the natural landscapes, the great produce grown and made here, and the inspirational people who make it. We are fond of driving towards the Cobaw Ridge to marvel at the granite boulders and enjoy the view. We’d also take the opportunity to visit our friends, Andrea and Llew, at Granite Hills Winery. Take a long way home and call into the Tooborac Hotel and try a handcrafted beer. Then we’d go onto Barfold Olive Oil for the freshest oils and olives.

We are a bike riding family, so we love exploring different tracks around the region. The current favourite ride is to Blackhill Reserve. We pack a picnic and eat high up on the rocks taking in the views and fresh air. I love gardening, so I am always looking for interesting and beautiful plants.

We have unique nurseries including the Garden TapMt William Advanced Trees and Dicksonia Rare Plants. I highly recommend the Campaspe River Walk where you can stop in the Botanic Gardens with the newspaper or a book under an ancient oak tree.

Our biggest dilemma in Kyneton is selecting where to go for dinner. We are spoilt for choice! Tansy’sColensoSource Dining or Midnight Starling? They are all run by good friends; passionate makers and all use the best local produce.


Castlemaine and surrounds

Johnny Baker, Johnny Baker's

Johnny Baker uai

Between late February to May, mushrooms pop up in the Oak Forest at Harcourt. Go for a forage, make sure you know which ones are edible or not. Another ripper is the mountain bike track in Castlemaine known as the endless track. Come up for the weekend and bring your bike. You can stay at Tread Harcourt, at the base of Mount Alexander and there’s a café called Goldfield’s Track Café (situated on the Tread property), so you can grab a bite when you get hungry. I have also found a great ‘new’ old bakery, Blumes Historic Bakery in Harcourt. They have set up shop in one of the town’s original bakeries, and they have even managed to resurrect the old scotch oven. Their sourdough is delicious.

If I had just 48 hours in the area, I would spend four hours just wandering The Mill in Castlemaine. There are so many treasures to uncover. Then I’d hop on the Victorian Goldfields Railway from Castlemaine out to Maldon. I’d pay the extra and ride with the driver. I have heard you can get your engineer’s licence as well and drive the train. Then, I’d head out to Buda Historic Home and Garden and soak up the history from years gone by. At night I’d see a live show at Theatre Royale and have some dinner at Bistro Lola. I’d stay at the New Northern Art Hotel (yes, they spell it this way), just above us. This place is amazing. The next day I’d see the guys at the Castlemaine Rod Shop and spend the afternoon meandering through the beautiful Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.


Creswick to Clunes and the area beyond

Andrew Bell, Andrew Bell Interiors

Andrew Bell uai
Andrew Bell, Andrew Bell Interiors

Uncover more of Creswick’s old and new attractions. A full breakfast would start the day at either Country Fresh Café or Smokeytown Café. On the weekend, I love to browse Time Travellers antique shop’s quirky but sophisticated collection. A visit to Creswick Cemetery, as with all country town cemeteries, can be a thought-provoking experience. I always show friends the reassembled grave containing an entire family of father, mother and infant child, whom all died within a year of each other just before the First World War. I call it “the broken family in the broken grave”. For dinner, I often like to head north to Clunes again to Quigley & Clarke. Alternatively, you can head south to the terrace of Three Founders, Springs Bar & Terrace at the RACV Goldfields Resort, Creswick. It’s a wonderful place to watch the kangaroos come out at dusk and begin grazing on the fairways.

One hundred years ago Park Lake was the place for local courtship and canoodling and was featured as such in Norman Lindsay’s novel Redheap. In fact, my grandparents used to court (and canoodle, I suppose) there. You can take a walk around the lake which features an unusual fountain and usually lots of wild ducks. Lake Calembeen is Creswick’s old swimming hole and remains popular with the locals. Please take a look at the intimidating diving platform and try to imagine it when it still had its third tier. My bravest sister jumped from the bottom level when she was 10.


Bacchus Marsh to Blackwood & surrounds

Julian Blackhirst, Garden of St Erth
Julian Blackhirst, Garden of St Erth

For coffee and food, I very rarely go anywhere apart from our onsite café at Garden of St Erth – the best coffee in Blackwood. Also for food, Annie Smithers of Du Fermier, Trentham, is hands down my favourite chef using local produce. You know you’re getting fresh as most of it’s from her farm.

For the adventurous, there is a beautiful bushwalking track, the Whipstick Track, just off our carpark here at the Garden of St Erth. It follows the old water races from the gold rush days, and I’d have to say it’s my favourite.

For a relaxing afternoon, you could find me in the garden at the Radio Springs Hotel. They call it the ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. You may also see me return at the end of the day for a local ale!

If you haven’t visited the Garden of St Erth, you’ll be thrilled to discover a wide variety of different plants and planting styles. The garden fork to kitchen fork aspect is a more well-known concept now. You can see the food in the garden and then find it on your plate in the café and then get advice from experts on how to grow it yourself at home. It’s a full produce circle.


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