Melina Goddard and Annie Mulkearns, the duo behind Mount Macedon Tours give us the low-down on the history of Mount Macedon and explain why it has been a drawcard for garden lovers for over 150 years.

They also give the inside word on which gardens are open this spring.

In 1906 Annie McCubbin, wife of the famous Australian painter Fred McCubbin, was diagnosed with pneumonia. With six children under foot, her GP suggested a trip to the clean air of Mount Macedon would do her health wonders. Annie and Fred stayed in a little cottage in the township of Woodend. On a fine spring day whilst out with children exploring magical Mount Macedon, they came across their dream cottage. Finding the property was for sale, they promptly put in an offer and become the owners of a dream lifestyle on the temperate mountain.

The McCubbins came to Mount Macedon after an earlier movement of landed gentry who were attracted to the prestigious grand landholdings, turning them into summer retreats and hill-stations.

The area was first gentrified in the 1870s, with large ornamental gardens all the fashion. Plants from around the globe were sourced and delivered by the likes of Sangster and Taylor’s Nursery and the Macedon State Nursery, keen to re-establish the landscape after the heavy logging of the 1850s.

Celebrating its centenary this year the Mount Macedon Horticultural Society was established in 1922. The ‘Hort Society’ originally supported a group of plant hunters that in turn created a fierce competitive streak between property owners. The area now showcases a significant selection of heritage listed trees, and stunning gardens reflecting the past, honouring the present and evolving into the future. Today, we marvel at the grandeur of these early plantings, and benefit from the early settlers’ vision that has now come to fruition. Large English tree species are found across the mountain, and rare plant species remain throughout the gardens.

Spring brings with it a flush of colour with the early blooms of gorgeous daffodils, jonquils, bluebells and other flowering woodland bulbs. Forest Glade Gardens displays wonderful carpets of yellow daffodils. The next show of colour comes from the Rhododendrons, Azaleas and flowering dogwoods, which can be found at Duneira Estate in multiple sizes and varieties and across the road at Shepherd’s Bush, the highest garden and residence on the mount. Nearby the private and historic colonial Indian-like hill-station Cameron Lodge boasts the Temple of the Winds, a dream-like domed pavilion encircled by water and ornamented with elephant and seal sculptures.

This spring, the wonderful gardens Lewisham and Durrol can be visited through Open Gardens Victoria. While at the delightful Viewfield, you can experience events and open days through The Shared Table charity. The Mount Macedon Horticulture Society’s Garden Lovers’ Fair, at historic Bolobek, is an event not to be missed. Exclusive tours of select private estates and their gardens, such as Shepherds Bush, Cameron Lodge and Duneira Estate, can be booked through Mount Macedon Tours. This year marks the beginning of a new festival held at Duneira Estate on 5 and 6 November. The ‘Bluebell Festival’ will delight visitors as they walk under the majestic Elm avenue flanked by hundreds of stunning bluebells.

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Annie Mulkearns & Melina Goddard