vic_logo
Women walking in countryside in front of ruins

Central Victorian Vacation – Ballarat to Bendigo
Distance: 200km via the Macedon Ranges

Only 200km? You’ll be amazed at the additional ground you’ll cover, and how much you can pack in on this road trip from Bendigo to Ballarat


Start at Ballarat and head north-east along the Midland Hwy to Daylesford, the gateway to the Macedon Ranges and Victoria’s mineral springs country.

The Wombat State Forest and Macedon Ranges State Park are among the outdoor highlights on this trip.

Head east through Trentham to see Trentham Falls, Turpins Falls, mystical Hanging Rock near Woodend. Check out the Macedon Regional Park. Mount Macedon affords amazing views and excellent bushwalking and cycling opportunities.

Don’t forget to visit the Wombat State Forest’s Whipstick Loop for a wonderful bushwalking experience.

This part of the world is filled epicurean delights. Kyneton’s Piper St, an olde worlde retailing centre, is now home to restaurants and antique shops.

Take the Calder Fwy north towards Castlemaine. See its old jail. Visit the Pennyweight Flat Children’s Cemetery (a window on the harshness of life in the goldfields). Uncover all the secrets of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park including the Garfield Waterwheel in Chewton.

Maldon, 16km west, is a stunningly preserved 19th century gold town declared by the National Trust as Australia’s first notable town because of its many historic buildings.

Pop up to the lookout at Mount Tarrengower for incredible views. Visit the Victorian Goldfields Railway for a glimpse of old-time steam power.


Harcourt bills itself as the apple centre of Victoria. It's also a popular mountain biking hub thanks to the La Larr Ba Gauwa mountain bike park. The park's trails run down the slopes of Mount Alexander and the Mount Alexander Regional Park.

From there, it’s only a short run to Bendigo’s Central Deborah Gold Mine. Catch a talking tram. See the historic joss house, used as a place of worship by Chinese miners. Take in the shade at , beautiful Rosalind Park in the heart of town.

Have a tipple at the grand old Shamrock Hotel. See the historic old post office and town hall. Visit the Dai Gum San historic Chinese precinct, which houses the world’s oldest imperial Chinese dragon (Loong) and what was the world’s longest Imperial Chinese dragon (Sun Loong) until the arrival of its successor in town (DaI Gum Loong) a few years back.


Bendigo is known as the city in the forest because it’s almost completely surrounded by the Greater Bendigo National Park. Its remnant box-ironbark country is a haven for native animals.

Bendigo also has an incredible range of gourmet dining options saw it named a United Nations City of Gastronomy in recent years.


Use Bendigo to explore the wider region. Tour the popular Heathcote and Bendigo wine regions. Visit historic gold towns like Inglewood and Wedderburn. The Melville Caves in the Kooyoora State Park are a gem. Walk to the top of the granite peak at Mount Terrick Terrick, near Mitiamo, and head the Port of Echuca and the Barmah National Park.

Before you go

  • Download the VicEmergency app and tune into the local emergency broadcasters
  • Remember to keep 1.5 metres from anyone you don’t live with
  • Carry a fitted face mask to wear in large retail premises or if you’re in a crowd 
  • Get tested and isolate at your accommodation if possible if you have any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while you’re away 
  • Book ahead or have a plan B in case your destination is at capacity
  • Never leave a campfire unattended, and always extinguish them with water rather than soil
  • Don’t forget to shop local and support our Victorian businesses and producers, and
  • Keep up-to-date on public health information

Reviewed 08 April 2021

Was this page helpful?