Nestled at the foot of the Macedon Ranges and less than one hour from Melbourne is the modern rural town of Woodend.
With an endless supply of artisan food and wine, a penchant for hallmark music events and abundance of breathtaking natural attractions, the area is a perfect destination for an indulgent weekend away.
Every season offers a unique experience choose from: renowned summer events, brilliant colourful autumn leaves, warming winter fireplaces, and beautiful blooming spring gardens.
As an ideal year-round destination, Woodend is worth a visit at any time.
Things to do in Woodend
The Regional Wanderer – Gin Safari
Join a small group tour and enjoy the latest foodie trend: gin. After a mid-morning pick up from your accommodation or Woodend train station, you’ll visit three distinct gin distilleries set in spectacular surrounds. There are opportunities to taste plenty of the different products, and it’s not just gin you’ll get to try – you may even get the chance to taste by-products like gin marmalade made from the fruit that flavours the gin. You can purchase products at each venue but there is certainly no pressure to buy.
Tour founder and head guide Shane provides brilliant local knowledge, and a delicious lunch is provided featuring plenty of quality produce from the region to compliment the gin. The tour van is equipped with cool storage for your purchases and Shane also provides complimentary drinking water, umbrellas and sunscreen. There are a selection of tours available to suit all tastes.
The Regional Wanderer: Woodend.
Mysterious and beautiful, Hanging Rock has attracted visitors since the 1860s as a perfect place for picnics and leisure activities. The fictional book and subsequent movie Picnic at Hanging Rock created intrigue for a missing schoolgirl named Miranda, while the story is just that enthusiasts can be heard calling out for Miranda at the top of ‘the Rock’.
The grounds offer picnic shelters, toilets, a children’s playground, an onsite cafe, interpretive displays and expansive playing fields. Choose from three walking trails ranked easy to moderate: the Creek Walk (about 40 minutes return), the base walk (about 30 minutes return), and the Summit Walk (about an hour). The Hanging Rock Cafe offers fantastic meals and Devonshire tea, or take a picnic and enjoy the expansive facilities.
Hanging Rock Reserve: 139 South Rock Rd, Woodend.
Holgate Taproom and Visitor Centre
This new addition to Woodend is a fantastic way to sample the range of craft beers created by Holgate Brewery. Guests are invited to sample more than sixteen beers on tap, while tasting platters featuring local produce are also available to perfectly compliment the local beer, wine and cider. Open daily and manned by friendly beer gurus, this is a great place to get an insight into the region’s passion for artisan food and drinks. Next door at Holgate Brewhouse visitors can enjoy a meal, meet the locals and even stay overnight.
Holgate Taproom and Visitor Centre: Corner Anslow and High streets, Woodend.
Places to eat and drink in Woodend
The Victoria Hotel
Everything that is good about a country pub can be found at The Victoria Hotel – traditional pub grub, regular events, craft beer on tap, an extensive wine list, an inviting beer garden, and a drive-through bottle shop where you can also order woodfired pizza. Open 7 days, the pub has an inviting front bar where you will be greeted by friendly staff, so pull up a bar stool for a drink and a good yarn. Alternatively, head to the spacious dining room, complete with enormous exposed beams and a huge fireplace, to enjoy a hearty country meal.
The Victoria Hotel: 67 High St, Woodend.
Fox in the Chamber
Perfect for a long, lazy breakfast with the weekend papers or a quick, quality cuppa is ‘the Chamber’. Located in the old Council Chamber building, this cafe is light and airy and has a menu based on local and seasonal produce. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the home-made cakes, slices and muffins that are sure to satisfy.
Fox in the Chamber: 90 High St, Woodend.
No country town is complete without a quintessential Australian bakery. ‘Bourkies’ is well known in the region for its award-winning vanilla slice perfect at any time of the day. The coffee machine hums quietly as customers take a number to stock up on bakery staples including pies, cakes and bread which are all baked fresh daily. Plenty of seating is available both indoors and on the street front.
Bourkies Bakehouse: 115 High St, Woodend.
Where to stay in Woodend
La Roseraie is a self-contained, French-inspired guesthouse only a short walk from the town centre. French-born host Chantelle has woven a French theme throughout the cosy cottage, from the linen and crockery to the coffee table books and music offering.
The inclusive breakfast provisions are distinctly French too – guests can enjoy croissants or a fresh baguette, butter and preserves, fresh fruit, orange juice and a selection of tea and coffee. As a bonus, Chantelle can cook a three-course traditional French meal which can be arranged at the time of booking. Two people can be comfortably accommodated in either twin share or a king size bed, and a roll away can be arranged in the lounge on request.
The petite patio opens onto a beautiful cottage garden featuring roses and lavender, while deck chairs are perfectly positioned to take in the fresh air on balmy evenings.
La Roseraie: Morris St, Woodend.
Getting to Woodend
Woodend is located just off the Calder Freeway, approximately 70km from Melbourne’s CBD.
If travelling from northern Victoria, head towards Bendigo and pick up the Calder Highway heading south.
Woodend is also accessible by V/Line train service, just an hour’s journey from Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station. There are multiple departures daily. The train service stops at Woodend train station located at the top of the town centre.