The cooler climes of the Macedon Ranges are under an hour northwest of Melbourne, perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. It’s also the perfect place to visit with your dog, with plenty of dog-friendly attractions from forest to gardens to wineries.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in the Macedon Ranges
When visiting the Macedon Ranges with your dog, make sure you tick off some or all of these dog-friendly things to do.
1. Go Hiking in Macedon Regional Park
The forested heights of the Macedon Ranges are contained in the Macedon Regional Park. And because it’s a regional park rather than a national park, your dog is allowed to join you on the walking tracks around the park, as long as they are kept on a leash.
There’s a 30km loop track that links all the major sites in the park, along with Macedon Railway Station, but it’s a gruelling full day hike. It’s much more popular to walk one or more sections of the loop, or the other short trails in the park.
A fun short walk is the hike to Camels Hump, the highest point in the Macedon Ranges, which offers wonderful views across to Hanging Rock and the surrounding countryside. It’s a moderate 1km return hike, which should only take 20-30 minutes.
Another popular destination is the 21m high Memorial Cross, close to the tea rooms and main picnic grounds. It’s only a 200m gentle stroll each way, with a short side detour to the Major Mitchell Lookout. For something more challenging, it’s a 3.6km ascent up to the Memorial Cross from the Old Scout Camp on Middle Gully Road.
2. Visit a Beautiful Garden
The Macedon Ranges is home to some beautiful cool climate gardens, including many private gardens that line Mount Macedon Road, on the way up to the Macedon Regional Park. Luckily, some of them are open to the public and even allow leashed dogs to join you.
We visited Forest Glade Gardens, a dog-friendly garden that is open daily. (Bring cash to put in the money slot on quieter days.) It’s a gorgeous spot, particularly during springtime (when we visited) and the Autumn months.
Allow an hour or more to stroll around the different sections, with the Japanese garden in particular being a highlight, as well as the many sculptures. Be aware that it is a private property, so follow the rules, including keeping your dog on a leash and cleaning up after it.
During April, multiple gardens open to the public as part of the Macedon Ranges Autumn Festival. Double check which if any gardens open during the festival allow your dog to join you.
3. Taste the Local Wine
Tucked away into Mount Macedon are a number of cool climate wineries, some with cellar doors open to the public.
One of the larger wineries is Mount Macedon Winery, set in gorgeous surroundings. With resident wine dog Gus on hand to welcome visitors, four-legged visitors are also welcome. Enquire about a tasting out on the deck at the cellar door, perhaps accompanied by an antipasto platter. There’s also a fine dining restaurant on site. Open from Thursday to Sunday, call to make a booking.
At the family-run Mount Towrong Vineyard, the emphasis is on handpicked grapes and low intervention. Each Saturday and Sunday their cellar opens, along with their restaurant that serves up hearty, home-style Italian cooking, designed to complement their wines. Book in to nab an outdoor table.
4. Visit Hanging Rock
One of the most famous spots in the Macedon Ranges is Hanging Rock, the setting of the mysterious novel “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and the subsequent film. Situated just north of Mount Macedon, the reserve contains large picnic grounds and multiple walking tracks, including the popular walk to the summit of Picnic Rock.
Note that an entry fee is required, either per vehicle or per individual if you walk into the park. Pet dogs on a leash are permitted at the reserve, except for on major event days, although they are not permitted to ascend to the rock itself on the Summit Walk. If you’re wanting to take a walk with your dog, stick to the lower part of the Summit Walk, or instead follow the 1.8km-long Base Walk or the 2.3km-long Creek Walk.
5. Sample the Local Mineral Water
Just like nearby Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, the Macedon Ranges are also home to a number of mineral springs, that have been an attraction for over a century.
The best spot to sample the local mineral water is Kyneton Streamside Reserve, on the northern edge of this charming town. Stop by the historic rotunda and use the hand pumps to fill up your containers for free, plus read the information panel about the site’s history and the water’s mineral composition.
Dogs on a leash are permitted in the reserve, also a popular picnic spot and home to a free RV and caravan overnight parking spot. While the general advice is for dogs to not drink water high in minerals, they’re fine to join you in having a little taste.
6. Visit an Historic Botanic Garden
As well as private gardens, the Macedon Ranges are also home to a number of historic botanic gardens. In the late 19th century, it was expected that all well-to-do towns in Victoria would have their own botanic garden, a place where European plant species could flourish and locals could spend their leisure time.
Both the Kyneton Botanic Gardens and Malmsbury Botanic Gardens were established in the 1850s and are among Victoria’s oldest regional botanic gardens. The gardens in Kyneton are located adjacent to the Campaspe River, along which runs a wonderful riverside walk. The gardens also contain many large National Trust-listed trees, as well as gorgeous bluestone garden walls and an historic drinking fountain.
The focal point of the Malmsbury Botanic Gardens is its ornamental lake, home to duck and geese. Don’t also miss the wonderful views of the grand Malmsbury Viaduct, located at the southern edge of the gardens. Dogs on a leash are allowed in both gardens.
7. Enjoy the Autumn Colour
With its higher altitude and cool climate, the Macedon Ranges are home to many magnificent deciduous trees, so are not surprisingly a popular destination to visit during Autumn and witness the colourful display.
One of the most popular spots is Honour Avenue in Macedon, lined with 154 Pin Oaks. From late March to late April the oak leaves slowly change red in a beautiful display. The spot is so popular that on weekends and public holidays during this period the road is closed and parking is restricted. Shuttles operate, but dogs are likely not allowed on the shuttles. Check out the details in advance.
Alternatively, visit Honour Avenue during the week for a quieter experience, or find out more about other destinations to visit in the Macedon Ranges to experience the Autumn colour.
Dog-Friendly Parks in the Macedon Ranges
The Macedon Ranges Shire Council has established nearly 50 off-leash dog parks across the shire, with a few located in most townships.
Some handy off-leash parks that you may like to visit with your dog include Campaspe Park in Woodend and Centennial Park in Macedon. The former is located on the banks of Five Mile Creek, near the visitors information centre. The walking path alongside the creek is a popular spot for walking with dogs.
Centennial Park is adjacent to Honour Avenue, a popular destination to view the Autumn leaves. The park is also a popular picnic spot, and is home to the Ash Wednesday Memorial and mosaic statues that reflect the district’s history.
Dog-Friendly Dining in the Macedon Ranges
In Macedon, head to the highly-rated Mr Macedon, which has a nice outdoor area that’s dog-friendly. Open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, order something off their menu that changes seasonal, or just grab an Allpress coffee.
Further up the mountain, Mount Macedon Hotel has a large outdoor dining area, best enjoyed during the warmer summer months. Open daily for lunch and dinner, ask in advance which section of the deck is dog-friendly before taking a seat.
Alternatively, combine your meal with winery visit and wine tasting. Both Mount Macedon Winery and Mount Towrong Vineyard have restaurants onsite, although double check in advance for opening hours.
If you’d prefer a beer, another option is the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend. While dogs are not allowed inside, there’s a number of tables outside along the side street, where you can relax with a beverage and your pup.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in the Macedon Ranges
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with a pet in the Macedon Ranges, it’s best to search for pet-friendly holiday cottages, and double check the rules in advance with the owner.
There’s multiple pet-friendly options on Stayz, including the highly-rated Hobreid House. Located in the countryside, the guest suite of this house has two bedrooms and its own bathroom and sitting room, as well as a private entry. The property is surrounded by a beautiful garden.
There’s limited camping option in the area, with the Macedon Caravan Park not highly rated. If you have your own RV or caravan and are fine with basic facilities, there’s a free RV overnight camping spot at Kyneton Streamside Reserve, on the northern side of Kyneton.