Woodend crowned the best

Liam and Kia Magee with their kids Jagger (3) and Boston (2) down town in Woodend. (Damjan Janevski) 317219_01

Woodend is the place to be – ranked the most liveable town in regional Victoria in analysis by PwC – and locals aren’t at all surprised.

PwC Australia’s RegionalPulse analysis revealed which towns across the state were the most attractive based on a range of liveability metrics, including a mix of entertainment, family amenity, jobs and transport links.

They’re also safe from risks, like bushfires, high crime rates and unemployment.

Tree-change lovers in the most literal sense meant the leafy and lush Woodend, with views of the stunning Mount Macedon, came out on top of Torquay and Ocean Grove.

And in the top 20 best destinations to live, lovely Riddells Creek came in ranked at number nine and Mount Macedon at 14.

Beloved town crier and Woodend Lions Club president Barry McDonald has lived in the village for 30 years and in that time seen it evolve and grow.

Looking back to the time he moved in, he remembers wanting to go out with a new friend for a meal at night, but had nowhere to go.

Now, ‘places to go’ are in abundance – like the formidable Holgate Brewhouse, the multitude of well-loved cafes and stores, and a range of facilities for families.

“I think the ranking [is about Woodend’s] transport and communication… all of that [including] community participation, the town boundaries, has meant that the quality of life in town is good,” he explained.

“We can see the mountain, geographically it’s a beautiful spot. Tree lined roads, [it’s] part of connecting with nature.”

Daylesford Macedon Tourism chief executive Steve Wroe said Woodend’s win was all about its balance.

“I’m not surprised at all, there is the right balance of amenities for families, cafes and great restaurants but at the same time, there’s that low population density, there’s not the crowds and intensity you get with city living,” he said.

“While I’m thrilled for Woodend, it was no great surprise because it’s such a beautiful place.”

Catherine Bartlett has lived in Woodend for nearly a decade and runs the popular Mort & Pestle kitchen shop in town.

She has seen the increase in people moving into Woodend from a slightly different viewpoint.

“You can tell when there’s new people in town because they need a cutlery drawer,” she said.

“As soon as someone buys a cutlery drawer I ask if they are new in town, and nine times out of 10 they are. Over the last three to four years, the number have steadily increased.”

Macedon Ranges mayor Annette Death said it was fantastic to see three local towns among the most liveable in Victoria.

“Woodend showcases much of what is also present in the rest of the shire: a vibrant centre, well supported community events like the Woodend Winter Arts Festival, regular markets showcasing the best of local produce and of course the beautiful surrounds of the natural environment to enjoy,” she said.

“Easy access and proximity by train to Bendigo or Melbourne, as well as good road connections, make it an attractive location for people who need to commute to work.”

Star Weekly photographer Damjan Janevski spent time last week capturing happy Woodent residents.

Elsie Lange