Whether you are dreading or looking forward to the impending school holidays, there is no doubt you will eventually be after somewhere to escape before you and your little monsters go stir crazy. While the museum, zoo and aquarium are all amazing, sometimes venturing out into the open air with a picnic is much more exciting than trying to deal with public transport, parking in the city or watching multiple children in a crowded place. Here are ten fun, free destinations to try in and around the Macedon Ranges with your kidlets. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.
- Woodend Children’s Park
This is hands-down the best park in the Macedon Ranges. There are so many different parts to this park that caters for all ages. There is an enclosed area which is ideal for younger children, a lookout in the middle of the park, a musical area with drums and pipes, a most awesome flying fox, and another area for older kids. If you’re keen to stay there for a while, there are two undercover barbecue areas. Otherwise, take the kids for a walk a couple of streets away into the township to one of the local bakeries. If you happen to visit Woodend on the first Saturday of the month, there is also a lovely farmers market in front of the local library.
2. Macedon Memorial Cross
Venture up Mount Macedon to the Macedon Memorial Cross. It is an easy walk to the Cross via the outstanding Major Mitchell Lookout (above) and offers gorgeous views across the Ranges and back towards Port Philip Bay. There is also the opportunity to open up a discussion with older children about why the Cross was constructed and how it is considered the most significant war memorial in Victoria after the Shrine of Remembrance. While you’re there, why not have a coffee and a toasted sandwich at the Top of The Range cafe which is right next to the carpark?
3. Camel’s Hump
Just down the mountain from the Macedon Memorial Cross is Camel’s Hump. If you and your children are seasoned rock climbers, you can make the climb up – I’d recommend using ropes. Just as nice, and probably less stressful(!), is the walk up the mountain which leads to a lookout with breathtaking views. It is not too taxing but can be difficult with a pram. Take some water bottles and some fruit to share at the top as you take in the view. Perfect.
4. Riddells Creek Lions Park
While this playground isn’t as extensive as Woodend’s park, it has recently had a flying fox constructed as well which is definitely a winner with the kids. There are plenty of large shady trees and it also boasts an undercover area. Unlike in Woodend, this park is literally next to the main street of the town. Pop into Vics at Seasons for a coffee or wander up to the local opportunity shop. On the third Saturday of the month the Riddells Creek Farmers Market is just up the road to enjoy as well which regularly has buskers, face-painting and an animal petting area. Great family fun!
5. Trentham and Trentham Falls
If you feel like a bit of a road trip, head up to Trentham and visit Trentham Falls along the way. It is a very easy walk down to where you view the falls amongst a serene forest of gums. Take in the crisp, fresh air and then drive toward Trentham for a stroll down the main street and grab some lunch at the bakery.
6. Lake Daylesford
While you’re in the vicinity of Trentham, you might as well drive a little further toward Daylesford. There are so many beautiful places in Daylesford but the most family friendly is Lake Daylesford. Take a picnic or grab a bite at the newly rebuilt Boathouse Cafe or Book Barn, (a gorgeous second hand bookstore which also does coffee and cake). There is some play equipment by the Boathouse for the kids while you enjoy your coffee and take in the bird life. Go for a stroll or bring the kids’ scooters or bikes to follow the trail around the lake. A great day out.
7. Firth Park
This is an old favourite of my husband’s as a kid. If you are happy to follow the dusty dirt road through the Wombat State Forest National Park to Firth Park, you will not be disappointed. There are various walking tracks and trails for bikes and dirt bikes. Try your luck at yabbying along the edge of the lake. Bring a picnic rug, chairs, food and drinks and settle in for a relax while the kids run around and explore. Bliss!
8. Galaxy Park
We’re edging out of the Macedon Ranges here but I had to include Sunbury’s Galaxy Park on Jackson’s Hill. Like Woodend’s park it has several areas for different age groups, plenty of undercover areas and a short path track around the adjoining creek and pond which is full of birdlife. Take a picnic or swing past one of the many bakeries or cafes in Sunbury and head on up to this beautiful park.
9. Organ Pipes
Also back towards the city, the Organ Pipes National Park is another gorgeous natural sight to experience. Start off at the Visitor Centre then head down the walking track to the Organ Pipes, Rosette Rock and other features of the park. Enjoy the various bird and animal life as you walk along the creek (if you walk quietly enough!). Take a picnic and plenty of water with you, and don’t forget you have a steep hill to climb on the way back. It is all worth the walk though.
10. Gisborne Adventure Playground
The old favourite of mine is always the Gisborne Adventure Playground. This beautiful, colourful park boasts an easy walking trail, enclosed and open playgrounds and large grassy areas with plenty of tables, benches, and the best trees for climbing. We have had children’s parties at this park where the kids have not tired of running around for hours on end. Bring along a picnic or grab a snack from nearby Coles or Brumby’s. Sip on your coffee and chat with a friend while you’re kids enjoying the expanse of this beautiful sanctuary.