Whether you are looking for something to do on the school holidays, feel like a spontaneous day trip or planning a long weekend away, here are a few places we have visited from our Macedon Ranges base, which we have enjoyed.
Castlemaine: Castlemaine is a beautiful historical town to visit. The botanical gardens were stunning with: plenty of space to kick a football and do cartwheels, a lake filled with birdlife, walking paths. and a gorgeous playground where the kids would have happily stayed forever. The train line is visible from the gardens, so you can see the passing trains. Grab a bite to eat at The Mill across the road from the entrance. This was a wool factory which has been transformed into a shopping and food hub. The Castlemaine Farmers’ Market operates on the first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday from 2.30 to 5.30 pm, if you would like to include that as part of your trip.
Ballarat: Another historical town known for its gold rush history is Ballarat. Sovereign Hill is naturally one of its most well known attractions but there are also many other family friendly destinations. We strolled through the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, had a look at Ballarat’s Vintage Tramway, checked out the beautiful Lake Wendouree, as well as the playground by the lake. A short walk from there was Livvi’s Place which is another brilliant park and an inclusive play space. You might also like to spend a few hours at both Kryal Castle for some medieval fun, and Ballarat Wildlife Park, where you can see and feed native animals.
Fairy Park, Anakie: On the way to Geelong from the Ranges, you can turn off to go to Anakie. Anakie is home of the Fairy Park, which I remember visiting myself over 30 years ago as a child. Follow the trail past all your favourite fairy tales. Push a button and watch as each story comes to life with music and narration. There is also an amazing playground with an epic slide. My children have enjoyed the Fairy Park from toddler age right through to tweenhood.
Bendigo: Like many other regional cities, Bendigo has much to offer, minus the crowds and traffic of our capital cities. The Discovery and Technology Centre will have the whole family entertained and intrigued. Bendigo Water World is a brilliant day out and has the famous Big Bendi Waterslide. The Botanical Gardens and Lake Weeroona are ace places for a wander and a picnic.
Geelong and The Bellarine: There seems to be many people from the Macedon Ranges who enjoy heading to The Bellarine for their holidays. Queenscliff, Portarlington, Point Lonsdale, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay and Lorne are just some of the beautiful towns you can explore. The beaches in these towns, are of course a delight, especiallyt coming from our inland home but there is much more to see. Adventure Park in Wallington is a great day out of water-filled fun. Take a tour of the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse and Fort Queenscliff, check out the Queenscliff Maritime Museum, indulge at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Icecreamery (just past Torquay). If you are headed to Geelong, check out the Waterfront as well as MOPA (Museum of Play and Art), which your children aged 6 and younger will love.
Melbourne/Naarm: There is a long list of places to visit in Melbourne for families including: The Melbourne Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens (particularly the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden), The Melbourne Museum, the Melbourne Aquarium, Lume (an interactive art gallery), Artvo (where you put yourselves into life size pictures) and The NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) which has a free area to check out for kids. If your family hasn’t spent much time in the city, you may simply enjoy training in, catching a tram, walking along Southbank, and enjoying the buzz of the city with its buskers, artwork, bustling streets and iconic Birrarung (Yarra) River.
Have we missed any of your go-to holiday towns or attractions within them? Let us know.