Geographic profile

Our shire at a glance

  • Traditional owners: Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri peoples
  • Geographic area: 1747.4 km2
  • Average summer temperatures: 13° to 29° Celsius
  • Average winter temperatures: 4° to 14° Celsius
  • Recreation reserves: 16
  • Botanic gardens: 3

Traditional owners

Our shire is a landscape rich in human history. The region is under indigenous custodianship of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri peoples who have lived in the area for more than 25,000 years.

The Wurundjeri people lived on the lands in and around the Yarra River and Maribyrnong watershed, which extended northwards to include the Macedon Ranges and the current towns of Gisborne, Hesket, Lancefield, Macedon, Riddells Creek and Romsey.

Dja Dja Wurrung tribes covered a very large area of central Victoria, including land around the present towns of Kyneton, Woodend and Malmsbury and the west side of the Campaspe River around Carlsruhe and Kyneton.

Taungurung tribes lived on lands that include the townships of Kyneton and Carlsruhe on the east side of the Campaspe River, and range through to Rushworth and Euroa in the north, extending east to Mt Buller.

The names of our local townships connect us to the Aboriginal story and traditional ownership; Barringo, Darraweit Guim, Jim Jim, Konagaderra Creek, Monegeetta, Willimigongon Creek and Wurundjeri Creek. 

Geographic character

The Macedon Ranges region is renowned for its pristine landscapes, native forests and unique natural features including Hanging Rock and Mount Macedon. Other major natural features include forested gullies, waterfalls, native grasslands, productive soils and mineral springs.

The shire enjoys good rainfall and a more temperate climate than areas to the north and south. The unique landscape of the shire, together with the proximity to Melbourne have attracted residents and visitors since the early 1800s. 

Biodiversity

Within the relatively small area of the Macedon Ranges lives a wide range of native plants and animals  that inhabit the different altitudes, aspects and soils.

Relative to other areas of Victoria, the Macedon Ranges shire retains large areas of native vegetation in good condition, with much of it on private land. The health of this environment helps to support a range of ecosystem ‘services’ that provide clean water, clean air and productive farmland. The biodiversity of the shire directly underpins much of the local economy including tourism and agriculture and is one of the main features that attracts people to live here.

Climate

The Macedon Ranges region experiences cool and relatively wet winters and warm, dry summers. The current average annual temperature in the Macedon Ranges region is 14.8 degrees C (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2008).

The average rainfall for the region is between 750mm and 800mm per year.

The current average number of frosts per year is 35.

Landscape

The Macedon Ranges is a diverse and contrasting landscape, an ancient folded terrain which was once a sea bed, flattened in places by lava flows and cut with gorges by rivers.

At the geographic and symbolic heart of the region is the Macedon Range and Hanging Rock. The Macedon Range rises dramatically from the surrounding plains and low rolling hills and is clearly visible to the east from the Calder Freeway. Mount Macedon is an extinct volcano rising 1010m above sea-level, making it the highest peak of the Macedon Ranges.

Hanging Rock is located to the north of Mount Macedon. This striking geographic feature was the iconic setting for the story Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay.

Our rivers

The Macedon Ranges provides the headwaters for four major Victorian waterways; the Campaspe and Coliban rivers to the north which make their way to Lake Eppalock and on toward the Murray River, and the Maribyrnong and Werribee Rivers to the south which feed into the Maribyrnong River before entering metropolitan Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay.

Soils

Soil types vary widely across the region due to the changing landscape and rainfall. In the central and south-western areas of the shire around Ashbourne, Woodend and Macedon, soils have low fertility and are prone to erosion. In the Mount Macedon area where rainfall is relatively high, deep and fertile red soils are common.

In the southeast from Gisborne to Lancefield, and around Kyneton in the northwest, red clays support potato and grape growing. In other areas, fertile black and grey reactive clays require extensive agricultural management.

Fine-grained, fertile alluvial soils and gravel and silt colluvial soils dominate the major water-courses, particularly around Lancefield and Woodend.