Your trip to Melbourne/Victoria would not be complete without a trip to visit a country town such as Kyneton. It is one of my personal, all-time favourite country-towns, and it is so easy to get to from Melbourne! The one transportation network that is actually quite decent here in Victoria is the V/Line Regional Train system, and Kyneton is one of those beautiful country-towns where you don’t need a car to drive around. You will be getting the Bendigo bound or Swan Hill bound V/Line train, and it will take you a bit over an hour from Southern Cross Station. If you can’t see these on the departure boards, ask the train staff, as sometimes the regional trains will terminate randomly at a stop before Bendigo or Swan Hill. Never fear, Kyneton isn’t too far along, so your train will most likely get you there even if it does terminate earlier than usual on the line. I will be guiding you through Kyneton as if you too have arrived by train on a Saturday, which is hands-down the best day to visit due to the Farmers Market that runs every second Saturday. It is just a 10-15 minute walk down the main drag from the station to the town centre (click here for directions). So without further ado, let me show you around.
Things to see and do:
Kyneton Botanic Gardens and Kyneton Community Park
You cannot possibly miss these beautiful gardens. You will actually walk past them when you walk down the main drag into town from the station. You can start your day in this lush little bit of paradise, or you can end your day here as you walk back to get the train home. Allow yourself plenty of time before the train if you choose the latter option, as you will lose track of time while wandering around. I saved it for the end of the day and made sure to get plenty of photos.
The gardens date back to 1858 and they were a ‘gift to the people of Kyenton’. If you enter via the corner of Mollison Street and Clowes Street (click above for the google-maps shortcut), you will see a plaque that says exactly this. The plant specimens you will see are just magnificent, with 17 protected by the National Trust of Australia.
Behind the Botanic Gardens, you will find the Kyneton Community Park. It features a rustic playground, table tennis tables, and it is the modern-garden landscaper’s dream – with tropical trees and exotic grasses patterned around the park. You do not need to be a kid to enjoy this community park!
Explore Piper Street
If you started your day at the Kyneton Botanic Gardens, we are now going to keep heading down the main drag into town. It is a gorgeous walk, so take your time. If you have walked past the Kyneton War Memorial, then you are heading in the right direction to reach our next stop (or stops) – Piper Street. We will be turning left off the main drag down the historic centre of Piper Street.
Really, you do not need me to guide you along here, but I will show you my favourite shops and galleries to stop in. We will also be having lunch and a glass of wine along the way, so take your time.
Whenever I am in Kyneton, I always make a stop at this unique, contemporary art gallery. They always have new artists on rotation, so you’re going to be in for a wonderful treat here. When you enter, you will see all sorts of wonderful decor, clothing, hand-made crafts, sculptures, and quaintly artistic everyday items. You could spend almost all day in this part alone, but there is a walkway located at the back of the shop where you will find even more exquisite artwork.
There are two major gallery spaces indoors. If you head down the rightmost walkway to the gallery space, you will eventually be lead to a shed-like area where you will find a permanent weather-art feature. After you have gazed into the installation for a solid five minutes, as I tend to do, pondering life and how the artist made this, you can keep heading out into the ‘Sculpture Yard’. This is an antique, scrap metal, recycled paradise.
Colours of White
This art gallery/shop makes my heart sing. When you walk in, be prepared for all the colours of the rainbow to smack you in the face. Don’t be fooled by how small this shop looks from the outside, as there is a back room that is full of paintings, handmade crafts, and amazing eco-ware. I think I know where I am going to buy my first ever kitchenware when that day eventually comes!
Gallery and Home Décor Shop (Name Unknown)
I stopped in this amazing shop as it had a sale on and boy, was it worth it! I restrained myself from buying anything, but I almost wished that it was my partner’s mother’s birthday again just so I could buy her some of the amazing coloured glassware and sculptures. I couldn’t seem to find the name of the shop, as it was very busy inside and I told myself, ‘oh I will find it on Google Maps, no problem…’ Yeah, no. Google Maps in Kyneton has not been updated since 2010 (which is why I am providing you with the shortcuts). Anyhow, it is on the same side of Piper Street as the rest of my pit stops in this blog. There are so many galleries, vintage wares, and décor shops, so you can choose a handful (or all of them) and just explore. Some of you may think – why would I explore a gift and décor shop? Well, the owners of these shops are genuine artists and they stock the work of other local artists from the region. If you buy something from one of these shops rather than a touristy souvenir shop in the city, you are stimulating the local economy of a small country town, and I am all about that ethical travel. So, buy your gifts here in Kyneton. Your friends and family will not be disappointed!
Quick Growth Garden Centre and The Garden Tap
If you are feeling inspired after the exotic plants you saw at the Kyneton Botanic Gardens, or you are wanting to put yourself in the mood for some nature before you head there on your way back to the station, make a pit stop at both of these beautiful nurseries. Whenever I walk into nurseries, I just want to buy everything and landscape my own garden. The sad thing is I don’t have my own garden, but, alas, one day, one day!
If you aren’t an interstate or an international traveller, go ahead, buy a cute plant – if you have the means of getting it home (or the willpower… and a garden to plant it in).
Where to Eat and Drink
Every time I go to Kyneton, I stop at this pizza restaurant. I know, I really should expand my horizons, as Kyneton is known for its great food, but when a pizza snob like me has what she describes as the perfect pizza, she just has to keep going back. Cut me some slack, I got to eat Naples-style Pizza in Naples for a week- I have been broken for pizza.
The tasty pizzas served here are New York Style. Usually, I could not care less when I see a pizza shop in Australia say ‘New York Style Pizza,’ as I am happy with a beautifully chewy woodfire pizza and have never quite seen the appeal. But, this has to be the best New York Style Pizza restaurant Victoria has to offer. They use fresh, local produce and have some extremely unique creations. They are also very accommodating for vegetarians and vegans. Usually, when I ask for the cheese to be taken off at a pizza place, I get scoffed at. But here, they are more than happy to substitute out things and make your experience at Pizza Verde a great one. We always get the Fungi Pizza, which has onion jam – yes, onion jam – instead of passata or olive oil, and my oh my, it is so flavourful! If you live the gluten-free life, like I try to do, (#stomachproblems and #skinproblems), they have the best gluten-free pizza base I have ever had. It holds together very well and has substantial bite to it.
Pizza Verde also has a small-plate menu, with delicious country classics like corn on the cob. I have had this before and it was divine. Vegans, just politely ask for the parmesan and butter taken off, and ask for a drizzle of olive oil instead.
The Royal George
Your day in Kyneton will not be complete without stopping at the Royal George. Craft beer, local wine and a rustic, antique style interior that will make your heart happy – except for the deer head on the wall… I am going to live in my little fantasy world where I hope that this deer died of natural causes and was taxidermied afterwards as a symbol of its beautiful legacy. Anyhow, they have a wall of badges from the rotating taps of beer. Collections like this just make you so happy, don’t they? If you are feeling peckish, they also have a very tasty looking bar menu.
The Final Verdict, Honourable Mentions, and General Travel Tips
Well, I had an amazing day in Kyneton. I got to take photos, look at art, eat amazing pizza, and drink local wine. I really hope your time in Kyneton is as special as mine was and I hope it is a place that finds a special place in your heart. To wrap up this post, I will be finishing with a few final travel tips and honourable mentions.
So, you are going to need a car to get here, which is why we didn’t make it on this occasion. Blackhill Reserve is lovely if you want to start your day with a bushwalk that isn’t too long but that gives you the country-town nature kick that we all love and enjoy.
Dhaba at the Mill
I have always wanted to go to this modern-style Indian restaurant, but I always choose the New York style pizza at Pizza Verde instead. However, I have heard amazing things about this place and they are very vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
Travel Tips (Things to Know Before You Go)
- If you want a top-notch visit to Kyneton, go on a Saturday. This is the day that the entire town comes alive, and every second Saturday the local market is on too.
- Plan what train you will be getting both to and from Kyneton. V/Line trains only run every 1-2 hours, so if you just miss one, it will be quite a wait.
- Start your day a little earlier and finish it a little earlier if possible. Try and get the train home after 2 pm or just after 3 pm. All of the country-towners living in Bendigo and the stops in between tend to get the trains after 4 pm on the weekend into the city for a night out, and consequently, it can get quite busy.
- Travel off-peak or on the weekend – you will get a reduced fare when you use your Myki (Melbourne’s public transport ‘ticket’ system).
- Always ‘touch-off’ or ‘tap-off’ your MyKi when you hop off a V/line train. If you don’t, you could incur a $30 penalty on your Myki next time you go to use it.