Soak in the mineral springs of Victoria's spa country, feast on superb food and wine at its source, and explore pretty townships full of country charm.
By Sue Gough Henly
Invigorate body and mind in the natural mineral springs and historic villages of Daylesford and surrounding region. It's just an 80 minute drive north-west of Melbourne through rolling eucalyptus-dotted hills and sheep and cattle paddocks. Indulge in spas and wellness retreats, enjoy great food and wine in country pubs and gourmet restaurants, explore heritage gardens, buy produce from farm gates and browse boutiques and arts galleries in quaint country towns.
HOW TO GET THERE
Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and the other villages of the Macedon Ranges are about 80 minutes drive north-west of Melbourne, either via the M8 or M79 and auxiliary roads.
- Soak in mineral springs and enjoy massages and spa treatments
- Follow the Daylesford Macedon Produce Trail to find gourmet food and wine
- Explore country towns brimming with boutiques, galleries and cafés
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DAYLESFORD AND THE MACEDON RANGES
Soak in a mineral water bath
Start your day at the beautifully restored historic Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, where you can recline on underwater couches, swim in a salt therapy pool and be pampered with all manner of facials, scrubs and massages. Savour the private mineral bath (100 per cent mineral water) and soak up a sublime view of the Australian bush through the large glass windows of the relaxation pool.
Stay in luxury resorts
Dine, spa and stay at The Lake House, one of the Luxury Lodges of Australia. Savour inspired preparations of seasonal food matched with an internationally acclaimed wine list. Chef and owner Alla Wolf-Tasker is an Australian culinary trailblazer and her restaurant has won every award in the book over its 30 year history. Enjoy a soak in a circular wooden tub perched in a stilt house high in the branches of the willow trees overlooking Lake Daylesford. Alternatively, stay at the Art Deco-style Peppers Springs Mineral Retreat, which offers water baths overlooking tranquil gardens. The soft-pack flotation beds are the only ones of their kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Follow the produce trail
Follow the Daylesford Macedon Produce Trail to pick up local gourmet treats from vineyards, cheesemakers, truffle hunters, trout farms, sausage makers, coffee roasters, provedores, lavender farms, egg layers, bakers and cattle farmers. Highlights include the Piper Street Food Company for charcuterie, RedBeard bakery for organic sourdough bread, Istra Smallgoods for sausages and more and Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm for lavender products, olive oil, and a terrific trattoria. Don’t miss Cliffy's Emporium, Daylesford's retro-chic local produce store, café and wine bar. You can also visit the Daylesford, Trentham and Kyneton farmers markets, and enjoy local specialties at country pubs and gourmet restaurants.
Browse boutiques and galleries
In Daylesford you can buy handmade chocolates at Sweet Decadence at Locantro and discover Turkish kilims, carpets and linens at Nomadic Son. In Hepburn Springs admire stunning murals at the Old Macaroni Factory while you eat homemade pasta at Lucini's Historic Pasta Café. On historic Piper Street in Kyneton, browse the jewellery, ceramics, homewares, furniture and fashion of local artists, makers and designers at Stockroom, and search for vintage homewares at Kabinett.
Explore gardens and wilderness areas
Wander around Daylesford's National Trust-listed Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, dotted with ancient pine, fir and cedar trees. Have lunch at the rustic-chic Wombat Hill House Café and visit the Victorian-era former convent that now houses the impressive Convent Gallery, showcasing the work of artists and artisans. On the scenic road up to Mount Macedon visit exquisite private gardens at Forest Glade and Tieve Tara. Walk around bucolic Lake Daylesford, which is especially beautiful in autumn when golden leaves are reflected in the tranquil water, or go for a walk to see the 32 metre (105 foot) Trentham Falls, the longest single-drop waterfall in Victoria.
Pack a picnic and visit mysterious Hanging Rock
Climb Hanging Rock, a small, 105 metre (344 foot) tall, steep-sided ancient volcano, which has eroded to create bizarre rock formations. The 1975 Australian movie classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was filmed here. See lots of Australian birds and maybe an echidna or wallaby as well as spectacular views of the surrounding farmland from the top. Country races take place on the horse track at the base of Hanging Rock. There's a Harvest Picnic in late February and music concerts are held throughout the year.
Chill Out at ChillOut
Enjoy the relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere of the ChillOut festival (9-13 March 2017), Australia's biggest and longest-running Country Queer Pride event. There are concerts, bush dances, street parades, carnivals, long lunches, roller derbies, trivia nights, garden parties and much more.
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