Woodend is a small town in Victoria, Australia, with a population of about 5,000. The town is in the Macedon Ranges Shire Local government area. It is bypassed to the east and north by the Calder Freeway (M79) and is located about halfway between Melbourne and Bendigo.
Woodend was first surveyed in 1836 by Major Thomas Mitchell, who opened it up for settlement. When gold was discovered in the area (towards Bendigo and Ballarat), Woodend became the main thoroughfare through the Black Forest, and accommodated many gold-diggers and their families. The tourist boom caused the settlement to grow and develop. Later the place became a centre for sheep-farming, and in 1862, a railway connection to Bendigo was built though Woodend, as a connection to the regional centre.
Woodend is currently a popular tourist attraction within a one hour drive of Melbourne. It is a gateway to surrounding tourist attractions like Hanging Rock, located at nearby Newham, Mount Macedon, and the numerous waterfalls, villages and homesteads between itself and the Daylesford/Hepburn Springs area. The area supports a large horse-racing community.
Woodend’s location in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range means that, unlike most of Australia, snowfalls are not uncommon.
Woodend is renowned in the Victorian arts community for the Woodend Winter Arts Festival, an event where artisans from around Australia gather to perform. It is always held on the Queens Birthday Weekend in June. See www.woodendwinterartsfestival.org.au
Woodend historically has many interesting old buildings. There are two surviving pubs/Inns. There were several more in the days of the railways. Woodend Railway Station once saw dozens of trains every day, and a steam train turntable was until recently still located alongside the track. Entering Woodend from Melbourne, most of the shops and eateries lie either side of the main high street, with the clocktower forming the heart. The Old Stationmasters House sits on the approach to the High street. It was built in 1897, in the days when the Stationmaster could stand at the side door and see right down the line.