Dating back some 6 million years, the rare volcanic Hanging Rock in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges has been a sacred place for local indigenous people, a nature reserve for native flora and fauna, and of course a backdrop to Joan Lindsay’s famous book, Picnic at Hanging Rock, which more recently has been re-imagined with Foxtel’s upcoming six-part drama series of the same title, filmed on location in the region.
Though the picnic didn't end well for Lindsay's characters, amidst the scenic landscapes and natural relaxed settings, packing up a picnic hamper of local produce and drinks is definitely the best way to appreciate the various public and private gardens dotted around the region - from the villages of Kyneton, Malmsbury and Daylesford.
For those slightly less prepared or last minute picnic escapades, visitors can stop at Piper Street Food Co in Kyneton to pick-up supplies before they get too hungry. Picnic packs are aptly named after surrounding areas such as Carlsruhe, Lauriston, Pastoria, Campaspe and of course Piper St. A short drive from the store, the Kyneton Botanical Gardens offers many places in the gardens to set up a picnic: by the creek, under a beautiful old Elm tree or at the Piggery which provides shelter from the sun.
Picnic baskets in tow, visitors can journey further afield to Malmsbury and wander through the Malmsbury Botanic Gardens. Established in 1850 and the oldest garden in Victoria, visitors can set up their picnic by the ornamental lake and take a post-picnic stroll to the old railway viaduct, constructed in 1859 to carry the Bendigo line over the Coliban River. One of the state's largest nineteenth-century engineering structures in the state, the bridge section consists of five arched spans reaching 152 metres from end to end.
Less than 30 minutes south of Malmsbury, visitors can stretch their legs and take in the lush greenery by tracking to Trentham Falls, where they will be rewarded the longest single drop waterfall in Victoria. There are plenty of facilities, including picnic tables and barbecues for visitors to lay their spread for a meal stop.
Perched high on the summit, picnic-goers can take in panoramic vistas and beautiful surrounds of Wombat Hill Botanical Garden. Those wanting to scale higher can climb the Pioneers Lookout Tower for uninterrupted views of Daylesford town and surrounds, take in the colour and magnificent floral charms of Begonia House.
Visitors wanting something a bit more special can get a taste of a countryside high tea by local legend Alla Wolf-Tasker’ at Wombat Hill House café, serving a delectable selection of sandwiches, scones with cream and jam whilst taking in the views of the gardens.
For those planning ahead of time, visitors can plan their trip around some of the Mount Macedon's most immaculately preserved gardens are private and only open on select days. The gardens of Forest Glade, Tieve Tara, Duneira Estate provide the perfect opportunity to amble among exotic trees, woodlands and gullies. There are riches to behold in the public parks and reserves as well, with manicured gardens accompanying more rugged environs.
Garden enthusiasts can follow Open Gardens Victoria open days for the chance to peek behind the fences of private gardens in spring and autumn and delight in classic landscaping, as well as quaint cottage gardens.
Hanging Rock is a rare volcanic formation, Visitors wanting to learn more about this elusive formation can get acquainted with the Hanging Rock trail for a bird's-eye view over the surrounding flat plain and farmland, and the thickly-forested Macedon and Cobaw ranges. Visitors can also pop in The Hanging Rock Discovery Centre before they begin their journey to learn about the fascinating background on the area’s history, mystery and geology.
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