Pass through the township of Mount Macedon on an ordinary day and you’re likely to see locals walking their dogs, someone doing a bit of gardening and some native wildlife.
The rural town is known for its impressive gardens and spectacular autumn leaves – the busiest it tends to get is when tourists come to marvel at the seasonal natural attractions.
But the discovery of a body in bushland in February this year has put the peaceful town at the centre of an extensive manhunt.
Last week Victoria Police search and rescue squad, State Emergency Services and missing persons squad detectives conducted a new search in Mount Macedon after fresh information came to light in the murder of Avondale Heights woman Karen Ristevski.
The crews combed Childers Road, Mount Macedon Road, Waterfalls Road and Salisbury Road, following the route detectives believe may have been taken by whoever hid Ms Ristevski’s body.
“Everybody’s shocked when it’s so close to home,” resident Helen Elliott said.
“Everyone feels safe up here … Many people – myself included – walk in isolated spots.”
Ms Ristevski’s body was found in the Macedon Regional Park on February 20, seven months after she went missing on June 29.
A witness this week told police they saw a lone man standing next to a black Mercedes, similar to one driven by Ms Ristevski, parked on the wrong side of the road near the intersection of Childers Road and Mount Macedon Road at about noon on June 29 last year.
Speaking at Childers Road last Thursday, Detective Inspector Tim Day said: “the importance of this sighting can’t be overstated”.
“The witness has articulated this sighting prior to the discovery of Karen’s body. The witness could not have known the location of Karen’s body at the time of calling us.”
Investigators are urging anyone who may have been in Mount Macedon, particularly near Macedon Regional Park, Mt Macedon Golf Club, Mount Macedon Road, Salisbury Road, Waterfalls Road, Childers Road and Loche Road on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, and who may have seen a black Mercedes Benz SLK to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.