Modern roads and technology have meant that Woodend, once a stopover on the route to the goldfields, is emerging as a dormitory town in the Melbourne commuter belt. Set in the beautiful hills that step up to the Macedon Ranges, Woodend is now just an hour’s drive from Melbourne.
Happily, the gathering influx of city folk hasn’t compromised Woodend’s historic charm which is distinguished by one of Victoria’s few remaining sandstone bridges. Built in 1858, the bridge’s signature is a clock tower protected by a copper dome.
To Woodend’s immediate south lies the Wombat State Forest which conserves peppermint, candlebark and messmate gums soaring up to up to 30m above the moss floor. Firth Park, in the southern fringe of the forest, offers the remains of a garden first planted more than 100 years ago and a picnic area.
The drive north from Woodend leads to Bentinck Country House and on to the forbidding rock formation which anchored Joan Lindsay’s haunting novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock.