Don’t let the cooler weather deter you this winter, Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges are splendid when the air is crisp.

The greenery is lush, natural water features are abundant, and the food will warm you to your woollen-sock-covered toes. Escape and explore with the kids for some heart-warming family fun.

Macedon Ranges

Woodend Children’s Park caters for all ages and is an ideal first stop on a tour of the Ranges. This huge playground caters for kids of all ages with various different zones, including an enclosed play area for little ones, musical instruments, a giant spider web and a flying fox. Head to the award-winning Bourkie’s Bakehouse across the road afterwards for a warm drink, hot pie, or their famous vanilla slice.

Iconic Hanging Rock similarly ticks all the boxes for family fun. You can bushwalk, climb rocks, spot wildlife and enjoy panoramic views, and the delightful Hanging Rock Café is open Thursdays to Mondays – a delicious pit stop before or after you explore.

Up the road is the magnificent Mount Macedon, which is covered in beautiful sites, beginning with Stanley Park Waterfall, nestled in amongst the houses as you drive up the mountain. View the falls from the platform above, or take the short walk down a flight of stone steps to see it in all its glory at the bottom. Further up the southern slope of the Mount is Forest Glade Gardens. These 5.6 hectares of carefully crafted, magical private gardens will have the whole family strolling about in rapture.

Follow the meandering road upward to Sanatorium Lake for a wild contrast of towering trees, hollow logs, pretty leaf litter, and the mirror-like lake. Last but not least, at the summit is the majestic Memorial Cross, with breathtaking views in every direction. Top of the Range Tea Rooms offers respite from the cold after you have had your fill of this iconic local treasure. If you are lucky enough, you might catch some snow on your travels.

From here, continue up the freeway to renowned food and art hub, Kyneton. The historic gates into the Kyneton Botanic Gardens are the perfect starting point to walk through this natural museum of local and exotic trees, many listed by the National Trust. The fairytale end of the path opens up to the incomparable Kyneton Community Park. Brightly coloured tractors and play equipment made from organic materials and carefully positioned flora, make for a genuine adventure playground where the children can immerse themselves.

Maze House Chris Turner Photography 5 scaled uai
Maze House. Photo Chris Turner.

DAYLESFORD AND SURROUNDS

This side of the region also has plenty to offer. One of the many highlights is the striking Trentham Falls. The walk down to the viewing platform is manageable even for the littlest legs and whether rain, hail or shine, the falls exude magnificence amongst the backdrop of towering gums.

Drive on to Daylesford for more outdoor family fun. Lake Daylesford has a path around it that is perfect for scooters, first time bike riders, or walkers looking to spot local birdlife. Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens is similarly tranquil whilst sparking little imaginations. Navigate the curling paths through the beautiful blooms and greenery and recharge at the charming Wombat Hill House café at its centre. For chocolate lovers, we recommend you venture just out of town to The Chocolate Mill for a decadent hot chocolate.

If you are visiting on the weekend, you can catch both the Sunday Market and Daylesford Spa Country Railway. Browse for fresh produce, craft and second hand wares as you meander through the market. The Country Railway station is situated on the same site and journeys to nearby Musk and back. Train lovers will love experiencing this heritage train ride through the scenic countryside and thick forest.

More family friendly treasures can also be found not far from Daylesford. The brilliant Maze House in Mount Prospect is an absolute delight for adults and children alike. Stroll through the manicured gardens, undertake the scavenger hunt through the maze and try your hand at traditional carnival games.

In Musk Vale there is a family friendly circuit walk to the breathtaking Sailors Falls, which drops down into a lush rainforest of rockpools and ferns. Further east is the endearing Tuki Trout Farm. Try your hand at catching a rainbow trout and have it cooked up in the restaurant for lunch whilst enjoying stunning views of the countryside. Finally, the picturesque St George’s Lake in Creswick offers all manner of leisure opportunities for a family. Have a picnic, walk the loop or lookout track or set up for a spot of fishing.

Sailors Falls. Photo Greg Brave shutterstock 1892948461 scaled uai
Sailors Falls. Photo by Greg Brave

About the author

Kat Buttigieg
Kat Buttigieg, Macedon Ranges Mumma
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Kat Buttigieg is a writer and mum of three from Gisborne who loves exploring the Macedon Ranges and championing local businesses. She runs regular meetups to connect families in the region, and writes blogs about affordable family fun in the Ranges. Kat was awarded the 2020 bronze AusMumpreneur award for Making a Difference (Community). In her spare time, Kat enjoys a good book, making music and writing fiction.