Worth getting out of bed for...
- Scale Hanging Rock for heart-racing views of the Macedon Ranges and its patchwork patterns of native bushland, vineyards and cow-dotted farms, as well as the incongruous racecourse that loops below the Rock.
- Arts and culture
- Get the low-down on the history of this gold-rush town at the Kyneton Museum (www.piperstreet.com.au), open Friday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm. At 98 Piper Street, Stockroom (http://www.stockroomkyneton.com/) acts as a gallery and project space for up-and-coming artists, spruiking everything from stationery to leather saddle bags and large-scale canvases. Sarah Gabriel's pretty paintings of birds and flowers are on show at Lauriston Press (no. 37b; +61 (0)3 5422 1710; www.lauristonpress.com.au). At John Lloyd Gallery (www.johnlloydgallery.com.au), browse the local artist's striking pastels and oil paintings, depicting this pastoral region.
- Something for nothing
- Follow in the footsteps of the area's European immigrants and make for Kyneton Mineral Springs, about three kilometres north of town on Burton Avenue. Bring along an empty flask to fill up with the virtuous mineral water that flows from the hand pumps here. It's slightly effervescent and just a little bit stinky.
- Meander down Piper Street and take your pick of eco-friendly fashion at No. 2 Sweetheart (www.no2sweetheart.com.au), handcrafted jewellery at Balcony on Piper, linen and homewares from Country Habit, vintage finds and collectibles at Kabinett, and Persian rugs, Venetian glass and gorgeous objets d'art at Emporium on Piper. On Mollison Street, Smith stay Mollisons hotel is a must for ceramics, candles and scarves, sold in its ground-floor boutique.
- If you want to soak in the region's soul-soothing mineral waters, a visit to Hepburn Springs is a must. A 20-minute drive brings you to the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa (www.hepburnbathhouse.com.au), where hours of aquatic bliss await. Lunch in the neighbouring town of Daylesford, home to acclaimed restaurants and cool country pubs.
- Perfect picnic
- Pick up a charcuterie hamper of handmade terrines, rillettes and paté from Piper Street Food Co. (www.piperstfoodco.com), then make for Hanging Rock. This looming monolith is the spooky setting for Picnic at Hanging Rock – spread you blanket at the base of the mountain and soak up the surreal, spine-chilling atmosphere.
- Starting at the Kyneton Botanic Gardens, the Campaspe River Walk is an easy stroll along the river, past old weirs, fords, a cooling swimming pool, and through a sculpture park at Quarry Reserve.
- Take the 2.9-kilometre Forest Ecotourism Walking Trail around Sanatorium Lake in the Macedon Ranges to learn about the natural flora and fauna of this serene spot. Keep your camera handy for kangaroo, wallaby and wombat sightings. For something more fast-paced, saddle up for a horseriding tour with Hepburn Lagoon Rides (www.hepburnlagoonrides.com.au), or straddle a BMW motorbike to cruise the region with Vicmoto Motorcycle Tours (www.vicmoto.com.au).
- Snap up organic fruit and veg, free-range eggs and crusty sourdough at the Kyneton Farmers' Market, held on the second Saturday of the month in St Paul's Park.
January Get the year off to a flying start at the Hanging Rock Picnic Races (www.hangingrock.countryracing.com.au) on New Year's Day. February Grab your basket and blanket and head to the Harvest Picnic (www.harvestpicnic.com.au) in the parklands around Hanging Rock. November Sample the wines of the Macedon Ranges and regional fare at the Budburst Festival (www.macedonrangeswine.com.au), held at various cellar doors throughout the region.