REPLENISH, EAT AND REPEAT
Visiting Daylesford, the town with it all.
WHEN WE ARRIVE IN Daylesford, it’s already been spring for a couple of months, but the town seems unconcerned with trifling matters such as adhering to the seasons. Besides, the Victorian town fringed by the cuddly sounding Wombat State Forest, is more suited to puffer jackets and puffs of smoke curling from chimneys than balmy days. “It’s a bit of a chick’s town, isn’t it?” observes my husband after a 10-minute stroll up the main street. I return his comment with the only correct response… an exaggerated eye-roll. But he has a point. With a cluster of knick-knacky homewares stores and day spas as prolific as suburban Thai restaurants, Daylesford does initially present as the holy grail of hens’ weekends. But it’s unfair to write it off as appealing to just one sex. Although Daylesford could easily play backdrop to a British countryside TV drama, there’s a refined style to the lavender-scented soaps, and ordering a macchiato doesn’t elicit raised eyebrows. This idyllic town, first established in 1854, was built on gold. Once the mines were abandoned, the legacy of a town once aglow with bullion remained in its grand buildings. The addition to this lofty architecture of a quaint influence from Swiss Italian migrants, a distinctly European feel, and the highest (85 per cent) concentration of mineral springs in Australia, means Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and their surrounds have been attracting holidaymakers since gentlefolk first popped open their parasols in the 1800s and declared the area delightful. Let’s also not forget the town’s location; a stone’s throw from the Macedon Ranges, where excellent wine and wonderful produce abound. And where there’s good wine, food, and genuinely heart-skipping property prices, you’re going to find a procession of tree-changers eschewing their office-cubicle careers to write that book they always knew they had in them, or finally begin that more creative but less lucrative vocation their parents/spouse/voice-of-reason always dissuaded them from pursuing. These city dodgers, mostly from Melbourne, bring with them a pulsating energy and enthusiasm for their adopted home, resulting in wonderful restaurants, shops, and polished hospitality. When it comes to travel, first impressions are often as useful as the paper knickers you’re given at day spas. And, after a good-sized beer and matching fish and chips at the Daylesford Hotel, my husband had seen the error of his assumptions and reversed his opinion. After two days, he was as delighted with the town as any ‘chick’ would be. So even if you’re not the type to languish in artesian waters, Daylesford’s history, architecture, elegant gardens and destination-making food and wine will please you. Here are a few not-to-be-missed experiences.
TAKE A CLASS AT NATASHA MORGAN’S DOLLHOUSE IN THE FOREST
If you could choose to be a flower anywhere in the world, you’d do well to be a part of Natasha Morgan’s garden on her property, Oak and Monkey Puzzle, just outside of
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Lake House is designed for leisure; Choose your tipple at Wine and the Country. OPPOSITE: Take your time to explore the grounds of Lake House, including its beautiful namesake.