Malmsbury began its life in much the same way as nearby Kyneton, providing fossickers on their way to the gold fields with a place to rest and refuel while they waited for a safe passage across the river.
As you descend down a wide, tree-lined street into the heart of the hamlet, you are greeted by a row of pretty, heritage-listed buildings and old street lamps, which readily slow you down to holiday mode.
An easy 10-minute drive from culinary hot-spot Kyneton, this picturesque country town proves that big things can come in small packages. More nature strip than shopping strip, Malmsbury is a worthy addition to your out-of-town itinerary.
The Stables at Highbank
Owned by Tonia Todman – affectionately referred to as Australia’s answer to Martha Stewart – The Stables at Highbank make for lovely accommodation, set in a tastefully restored, 160-year-old bluestone Clydesdale stables and blacksmiths. The whitewashed walls, exposed timber beams and stone feature walls make it feel a bit like an Escape to the Country barn conversion. If you stay from late September to late May, you’ll get the added bonus of admiring Todman’s amazing roses in bloom. The Stables at Highbank is nearly midway between Kyneton and Malmsbury.
152 Donnelly Road, Kyneton
(03) 5422 2308
The Garden Tap House
Located at the Malmsbury end of Kyneton’s Piper Street, The Garden Tap House is a welcome addition to this popular weekend getaway destination. Originally the manager's residence of an adjoining Flour Mill built in the 1860s, the two-storey bluestone building has been skilfully transformed into contemporary accommodation, thanks to James and Margot McDonald, owners of The Garden Tap Nursery. Modern rooms with just enough eclectica to add warmth.
96 Piper Street, Kyneton
(03) 5422 3033
If you’re in the mood to graze while trying a boutique beer or wine, then pull up a pew at this little gem. Formerly a Presbyterian Church circa 1873, this stunning building has been refurbished as a cosy wine bar and café. Along with local pates, terrine, cheeses and a few house specials (grilled figs and blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto, roast tomato and goats curd pie), owner Ross Close invites guest cooks to prepare dinner to accompany a selected wine list. A deck nestled beneath giant spreading oaks invites you outdoors when the weather is right, and if you fall in love with any of the antiques and collectibles on show, just ask because they’re quite possibly for sale.
90 Mollison Street, Malmsbury
(03) 5423 2391
Malmsbury Bakery & Gallery
If you’d rather just grab a pie from the bakery or add some buttery bakes to your picnic hamper, the Malmsbury Bakery has long been a popular spot for passersby. In fact, owner Jan Grant and her team have been baking in Malmsbury for 25 years. On a warm summer’s day, the tranquil, vine-covered 1850s bluestone courtyard (that was once the town’s original stables) is the perfect retreat.
75–77 Mollison Street, Malmsbury
(03) 5423 2369
Masterclass with Tonia Todman
Todman uses seasonal and regional produce where she can to run her hands-on cooking classes from her home at Highbank. From perfecting pasta and gnocchi to baking classic café cakes, the classes usually involve a shared meal and an opportunity to sample the fruits of your labour. Todman also offers interior design classes and accepts group bookings.
152 Donnelly Road, Kyneton
(03) 5422 2308
Pack a picnic or barbecue provisions and share an al fresco meal in a shady spot on the lawn alongside the resident ducks at Malmsbury’s Botanic Gardens. The six-hectare gardens were created under the guidance of Dr Ferdinand Von Mueller, who also designed the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Pamphlets guide you on a leisurely stroll along the lakeside walking track that leads to the magnificent bluestone railway viaduct, which was built in 1859 by thousands of labourers and designed to carry the Bendigo line over the Coliban River.
Ellesmere Place, Malmsbury
Buy from the cellar door at one, or all, of the local wineries within a short drive of central Malmsbury. We suggest you pop into Ellender Estate, Birthday Villa, Tarrangower Estate and Zig Zag Rd.
Malmsbury has a growing collection of art galleries, exhibitions and antiques. Take a stroll and wander into Tin Shed Arts Gallery, Woodbine Art and Hullabaloo Studio.
Rathdowne Antiques & Gifts
If the owners of the Antiques & Gifts shop on the main street of Malmsbury seem familiar, it might be because they are. Located in an 1860s heritage-listed building that was once part of the site of the Caroline Chisholm shelter sheds, the shop’s owners have also operated Rathdowne Antiques & Gifts in Carlton North for many years. You’ll find a lovely assortment of treasures and the beautifully dressed shop windows are always inviting.
73 Mollison Street, Malmsbury
(03) 5423 2000