This month we hit the road to explore one of Melbourne's favourite weekend destinations, Daylesford. Just 90 minutes from the city and renowned as the spa capital of Australia, this gorgeous little part of the Victorian countryside is home to spectacular forests, natural mineral springs and the most picturesque historic villages.
If it's pampering you're after, this is the place for you. There are around 100 therapies and health-related activities available within the Daylesford region. You name it, you can book it: from a relaxing spa and massage, to acupuncture and herbal medicines. See here for a full listing of venues & treatments available
If you're anything like us, good food and wine are an integral part of any getaway. The Daylesford area has an abundance of restaurants, wineries and country pubs that please even the most hard core Melbourne foodie (and we know they're used to the best). Here's just a couple of options we've tried and love:
LARDER: A stay in Daylesford is not complete without breakky at Larder. Great coffee, fab food and right on the main street. Perfect way to get your day of exploring started. Location: 57A Vincent Street, Daylesford. Open 7 Days, 8am - 5pm.
DU FERMIER - Technically not in Daylesford, but 15 minutes down the road in the historic village of Trentham (we could do a whole separate post on this gorgeous place!), Du Fermier is a wonderful French farmhouse style kitchen created by renowned chef Annie Smithers. Each week, Annie creates a unique menu based on what is fresh from the garden. Book early for this little gem, it's a crowd favourite. Located at 42 High Street, Trentham. Open for Lunch Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon.
THE FARMERS ARMS - A glorious country pub facade, full of gastronomic goodness in an unpretentious setting. Enjoy a cheeky wine or two in the beer garden or in front of the fire at Daylesford's oldest pub. Located at 1 East Street, Daylesford. Open 11:30am-11pm, 7 days a week with lunch from 12-3pm and dinner orders from 5:30-9pm.
DAISY DINING - For something a little different, why not make the most of that bespoke accommodation you've booked for the family and have breakky, lunch or dinner brought to you? Daisy Dining is a Daylesford based private caterer specialising in small groups of 2-18 people, for private dinner parties, small events and private lunches and dinners. A warning though... following Daisy Dining on Instagram can be a curse, as every single dish causes a serious case of food envy.
WHERE TO STAY...
There's a myriad of places to lay your hat in Daylesford and it's surrounds, from charming B&B's to stately manors. Of course, it depends on your situation and your budget, but here are our three top choices:
WHILE YOU'RE THERE...
How about a spot of vintage & antique shopping? From cute little boutiques to sprawling markets, you are definitely not limited for choice. If it's a one stop shop you're after, give the Amazing Mill Markets a run. Choose from clothes, furniture, memorabilia, homewares, fine china, coins, jewellery and books, just to name a few. Located at 105 Central Springs Road, Daylesford. Open 10am to 6pm, 7 days a week, every day of the year except Christmas day.
If it's a more curated selection you're after, visit Helen & Alexandra at Found in Hepburn Springs. A gorgeous little shop in the old village post office, no rummaging is necessary here, as only the best pieces (with the best back stories!) are available. Located at 108A Main Road, Hepburn Springs. Open 11am to 5pm, Thursday to Sunday.
The main street of Daylesford holds a huge assortment of shops, cafes, galleries and restaurants. It's easy to lose an hour or two wandering up one side of the street and back down the other, with something for everyone dotted the entire way. We do, however, have a couple of 'must visit' shops that get a good run every visit:
MANTEAU NOIR - It's like stepping into a different world the moment you enter this gorgeous little shop. The heady scent of Cire Trudon & french parfums stacked in old apothecary shelves; vintage collectibles hidden in amongst shelves stocked full of lust worthy silk and linen garments, walls of bespoke art and cupboards crammed full of handcrafted homewares.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T WANT TO SHOP?
OK, so maybe there is more to life than just shopping. So we've heard. If you need a few options that are not of the retail therapy kind, how about...
A WALK THROUGH WOMBAT HILL BOTANIC GARDENS - over 150 years old, the gardens sit atop an extinct volcano, with gorgeous views out over the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area.
LOSE THE KIDS - at the Maze House. Set them loose in the 25 year old hedge maze and enjoy a quiet cuppa for as long as it takes them to re-emerge, plus play a few carnival games afterwards in the garden. Open weekends and school holidays. Located at 3155 Midland Hwy Newlyn North (12 km from Daylesford).
THE CONVENT GALLERY - Described as ‘the most beautiful gallery in Australia’, the Convent Gallery shows a diverse range of local, national and international artists. Check here for upcoming exhibitions. With more than eight exhibition spaces, the gallery has something for everyone, along with a bar, cafe, shops and accommodation.
Clearly, we've only just scratched the surface of this amazing destination. After several visits, we're still discovering something new each time. Let us know if you have anything to add, or that we should put on our list for our next trip to Daylesford?