RE­PLEN­ISH, EAT AND RE­PEAT

Visit­ing Dayles­ford, the town with it all.

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

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.

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