Macedon Ranges, Victoria, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

THE SINGLE DOOR OF THE CELLAR

What do you get when you combine the award-winning architect of buildings like MONA and the Eureka Tower with a 44-hectare vineyard punctuated by an ancient volcanic outcrop? The answer is Mount Monument – a striking cellar door and sculpture space that makes the most of its location in Romsey. It was a labor of love for Nonda Katsalidis and her partner Jane Collins, who are just as passionate about regenerating the environment and creating a connection with the landscape as they are about producing exceptional wines. See mountmonument.com.au

THE SINGLE GARDEN

Forest Glade Gardens.

The Macedon Ranges are renowned for their heritage gardens and tree-lined streets that glow gold, red and amber in autumn. If you choose just one garden to visit, head to the five-hectare Forest Glade Gardens. The peaceful Japanese section is popular for its bonsai trees, maple trees and stepping stones above the water; and spring is the perfect time to see the lawn of daffodils in full bloom beaming in the sunshine. But if you’re with kids, head to the Topiary Garden where a leafy Loch Ness monster awaits. See forestgladegardens.com.au

THE ONLY RESTAURANT

Dietary requirements are not an issue at Woodend’s Kuzu Izakaya; a place where co-owners of chef Eriko Pannam and venue manager Gareth Rowlands treat diners like friends and family. The menu features “Japanese pub food” and the hot and crispy JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken or Japanese Fried Cauliflower for Vegans) is outstanding. Regulars love the succulent wagyu beef bao with spicy barbecue sauce served in a soft steamed bun, and the hamachi nuta, where diced fresh king mackerel is served with a zesty citrus miso, fish roe and crispy lotus root. See kuzu.com.au

THE ONLY COCKTAIL LOUNGE

Nestled in a charming Kyneton cottage, Miss M’s Lounge is a cosmopolitan cocktail and wine bar and restaurant. One of the signature drinks is the Baton Rouge made with spiced rum, brandy, French pear syrup and fresh lime. It is presented with a caramel-colored caramel burst and a lit cinnamon stick. Douse the glowing cinnamon in the cocktail and almost instantly the aroma of the hot spice fills the air. Theatrical? Undoubtedly, but it’s also a beautifully balanced drink. See missmslounge.com.au

THE ONLY PLEASURE

Guided by Ayurvedic principles, Maiaveda is more than just a nice place for a relaxing massage. This Kyneton spa’s signature treatment is more like a sacred ritual. First, your feet are bathed in lukewarm water, then you are draped in soft fabric before sinking onto the massage bed and succumbing to a herbal oil massage that leaves you feeling feeling of total rejuvenation. Then there’s an offering of handmade chai tea to slowly bring you back down to earth. See maiaveda.com.au

THE ONLY ICONIC SITE

Rob Blackburn |  DMR xxxOneOnlyMacedon One and Only Macedon Ranges;  text by Lindy Alexander cr: Visit Victoria (document image downloaded from Visit Victoria, not syndicated) Hanging Rock / Hanging Rock National Park

Situated near the traditional boundary between the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung tribal groups, Hanging Rock dominates the plains between Newham and Hesket. The place is also considered mysterious due to its role in Joan Lindsay’s bizarre story and Peter Weir’s haunting film, Picnic at the hanging rock, about the unexplained disappearance of a group of schoolgirls. Many people take picnics and lunch under the weathered rock, but taking the wide sealed path to the summit, through tall eucalyptus trees and boulder fields, is the best way to experience the mystery and magic of the place. See visitmacedonranges.com/tourism-listing/hanging-rock

THE ONLY ART SPACE

Housed in an 1850s butter factory on historic Piper Street in Kyneton, it is the largest private contemporary art space in the Victoria area. Inside the storage room are striking collections from contemporary international and Australian artists and designers. At any time there can be exhibitions by painters, ceramists or sculptors, such as Jane McKenzie, an architect turned ceramicist based in Castlemaine. From figurative to abstract works, it’s a vibrant arts hub where you can also shop for handmade shoes, jewelry, and one-of-a-kind vases. See stockroomspace.com

THE ONLY WALK

Connect with nature on a multi-layered audio-guided walk around Sanatorium Lake in Mount Macedon. Download the free audio tour to your mobile phone and set off on an easy one-hour loop around the lake. The immersive vocal and musical soundtrack only serves to heighten the experience of walking through pockets of ancient forest and towering mountain ash. It is a unique contemplative experience that manages to be moving, evocative and educational. See mrsc.vic.gov.au/murmuring-walk

THE ONLY PLACE TO STAY

Honeysuckle barn, living room.

For a place to stay as sweet as its name, head to Honeysuckle Barn on Woodbine Estate, on the outskirts of Kyneton. Set amidst a European-style garden (think water features, neatly trimmed hedges, lavender and climbing roses), the two-bedroom bluestone barn has been meticulously renovated. Inside, it’s charming and rustic, with the reclaimed woods used throughout lending a country escape charm. The wood fire is perfect for pleasant evenings and the barbecue in the shade of a tree is the ideal way to enjoy long lazy afternoons. See flophouse.com.au/honeysuckle-barn

ONE MORE THING …

There are a number of small craft distilleries producing exceptional spirits in Australia, but Animus in Kyneton stands out. The founders of the distillery grow many botanicals used in gin, including strawberry gum and kaffir lime leaves. The best way to sample the range is at the distillery’s welcoming doorway and cocktail bar. The gin arboretum is particularly worth trying, as the strawberry gum and lemon thyme are harvested the day of production, giving the spirit an intense yet balanced vitality. See animusdistillery.com

Lindy Alexander traveled at her own expense. See visitmacedonranges.com