MT. MACEDON, VICTORIA
03 5426 1755
In 2004 I wrote a travel article about Bed and Breakfast places around Victoria. It appeared under the atrocious pun of a title: B and B Me Up Scotty. And the article said in part:
Maybe it is because I am getting old but I love B and Bs. I love quaint old hotels and homesteads in the country that have open fireplaces downstairs and quilts upstairs. Places that unashamedly treat you like a pair of comfortable slippers while you partake of a Bed and Breakfast.
Places that have earnest and dedicated owners and kitchen staff who actually thrive on giving you good country service, quality food, and a comfy time.
One of my first experiences was at a wonderful old pub in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges called Harvest Home. I stayed there with a friend and forever after nicknamed it “harvest heaven”. We sat in the plump pillows of the sofa in front of the fire and gazed at the burning Mallee roots.
We breakfasted on fresh fruit and yogurt and good coffee and the Sunday papers and could still smell the charcoal from last night’s roaring fire. And the place won awards for its high class dinner restaurant.
Since then I have stayed at the Bentinck in Woodend in the shadow of Mt. Macedon and spent a couple of blissful days at the grandiosely-named Finches of Beechworth near the Victorian-New South Wales border. Kelly country.
Recently, I went back to the mountain – Mount Macedon – where I used to have a farm and a vineyard and made wine called Macedon Ridge. Until the ANZ Bank thought they needed my money and I lost it.
So, on the return visit I stayed at the Mountain Inn right next door to The Trading Post and close to the top of the mountain.
And we lunched and we dined and played pool and we visited Hanging Rock and the Hanging Rock Winery run by a winemaking guru, John Ellis, who used to make my Macedon Ridge wines and visited the Upside Down hill where your car seems to defy gravity by rolling uphill.
And, like an ageing hippie, I went to Woodend to buy incense and heaps of candles.
It is a wonderful part of Australia and -- with new, wide, freeways -- is only about 40 minutes from Melbourne.
It is where I plan to build a retirement village called Cocoon Lodge. Remember the movie about feeling young again called Cocoon?
B and Bs and country pubs are a great way to see this country cheaply and in style. The beds are always comfortable. The linen always clean. The breakfasts (even for a person who doesn’t usually eat much in the morning) are tempting with fresh fruit and yogurt and good coffee and fruit juice. And bacon and eggs if that is your want.
On my latest trip I went to Macedon to a place called the Clock and Beaver – probably the most bizarre but wonderful pub I have been to. It is run by a true eccentric who calls himself “ Merv the Perv”. He put the”l” in clock just to seem decent. He rings bells. He sounds off hooters. But sitting outside with a raging open fire in country air was fantastic.
Another great pub in the region is the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend. It used to be called Keating’s Hotel. They have spent a fortune revamping it. And their blurb says: “At Holgates it’s all about the beer but yet there is more… top accommodation, exquisite food and great country hospitality.”
And they are right. They have seven beers brewed in a “micro brewery”. Ales, pilsener, white beers, dark beers, Belgian style beers. They claim all their beers are brewed traditionally and naturally “with no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.”
I tried, and enjoyed, their “mahogany and malt dark ale” -- a beautiful dark beer that they market as “winter ale”. It is big in more ways than one. It clocks in at 6% alcohol.
They also have an aptly named beer called Double Trouble which is 8%.
Maybe that’s why they suggest you visit them by train on the Bendigo line because they are only one minute from the Woodend station!