The township of Woodend, north of Melbourne, has all the character and charm of country Victoria and offers locally produced arts and crafts.
Woodend has long been a popular rest stop for travellers. After the gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s, Woodend became a resort town with many guesthouses, large private gardens, a racecourse, golf club and hotels. Today visitors wander the antique stores, galleries, boutique gift shops or weekend markets. You can also explore the scenic bushland of Macedon Regional Park, visit local cellar doors and meet the winemakers, or play the cliff-top golf course with its panoramic views from the 10th hole.
Hanging Rock, located about seven kilometres east of Woodend, was reputedly a hideout for bushrangers like Mad Dog Morgan during the heady gold rush days. However, since the popularity of Peter Weir’s film (1975) of Joan Lindsay’s novel (1967) Picnic at Hanging Rock, mystery and intrigue have surrounded the rock.
The rock itself rises 105 metres from the plain and is a small steep-sided volcano. The lava has created unusual rock formations such as the Black Hole of Calcutta and the Cathedral. You can take a stroll or a challenging climb on the rock – scaling pinnacles and squeezing through crevices.
The Hanging Rock Picnic Races are held every Australia Day (January 26) and New Year’s Day, a tradition lasting more than 80 years. In late February, enjoy a celebration of local food and wine at the annual Harvest Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Woodend is 67 kilometres north of Melbourne or just under an hour on the Calder Highway. V/Line trains service Woodend seven days a week.