“It’s incredible how many people punch way above their weight for a town this size,” says Melissa Macfarlane, co-owner (with partner Frank Moylan) of one of the town’s oldest pubs, the Royal George Hotel on Piper Street.
She mentions screenwriter Joshua Tyler, who co-scripted Top End Wedding with Miranda Tapsell; composer Jed Palmer, who writes scores for film and stage; and silversmiths Dan and John Flynn, makers of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games medals, Australian Grand Prix trophies and commemorative works held at Buckingham Palace and the Vatican.
But gastronomy is Kyneton’s creative strong suit. For a settlement of just under 7000 people there’s a wealth of fine eating.
Earlier this year Tansy Good, the trailblazing Melbourne chef of the 1980s and 1990s, moved in. She and her sommelier partner John Evans opened Tansy’s in a lovely old corner house with wisteria-draped verandah on Piper Street, the historic hub for food, craft and culture.
The dining room’s heritage features – sunlit bay window over the cottage garden, vases of fresh flowers, central fireplace – make an appealing backdrop to the relaxed confidence of John’s service. Tansy’s cooking, meanwhile, is refreshingly free of pretension. Her Port Lincoln sardines dressed in intensely green, herb-infused oil, and honey and vanilla panna cotta with poached quince, are unfussy but first class.
Over at the Royal George, it was seasoned restaurateurs Melissa and Frank who helped put the town on the foodie map early last decade when they took over the historic pub first time round. They returned to the Royal George in 2019 and have since sharpened its regional wine focus with a menu of must-try dishes such as chicken Kiev croquettes, best enjoyed with the gewurztraminer from nearby Hesket Estate.