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Pho­tog­ra­pher Rhi­an­non Tay­lor shares her love of Dayles­ford, Vic­to­ria, in the first of our new Hol­i­day Hunter travel se­ries.

AUS­TRALIAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHER Rhi­an­non Tay­lor has a unique eye for space, de­sign and light. Her work sees her travel within Aus­tralia and around the world, with clients and as­sign­ments in the Mid­dle East, Sri Lanka, In­done­sia, USA, Mal­dives, New Zealand, South Africa and South Amer­ica. Rhi­an­non’s travel blog In Bed With is a cre­ative out­let where she shares pho­to­graphs and writes about the places she has vis­ited. Here, she talks about her love of the pretty Vic­to­rian town of Dayles­ford, a two-hour drive north-west of Mel­bourne, where she stayed at Saint Eti­enne — a Fed­er­a­tion-era guest­house with a de­sign-savvy aes­thetic. Rhi­an­non’s pick of the places to stay in Dayles­ford, this three-bed­room home main­tains its pe­riod fea­tures while adopt­ing a min­i­mal­ist and con­tem­po­rary style and is sur­rounded by a wood­land gar­den. Com­pletely re­designed by a hus­band and wife team and fea­tur­ing lay­ers of calm­ing white in its in­te­ri­ors, Saint Eti­enne com­bines crea­ture com­forts with a touch of coun­try hos­pi­tal­ity. Visit inbed­with.me or fol­low Rhi­an­non @inbed­with.me on In­sta­gram. >

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BLOG. In Bed With is a blog-cum-es­cape por­tal that pub­lishes re­views on bou­tique ho­tels, bed and break­fasts, eco-lodges and re­sorts. We try to find the most unique places in the world, from beach shacks in Tu­lum, Mex­ico, to palaces in re­mote Ra­jasthan, In­dia. It was spawned from my ca­reer as an in­te­ri­ors and travel pho­tog­ra­pher — shoot­ing in the com­mer­cial and ed­i­to­rial space over the past 10 years. I was look­ing for a cre­ative project to sink my teeth into and the blog com­bines my love of in­te­ri­ors and my ad­dic­tion to travel, all in one plat­form.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT TRAV­EL­LING? The pro­found power travel has to con­nect us with each other. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures through food and cus­toms can make us more un­der­stand­ing, pa­tient and com­pas­sion­ate hu­man be­ings.

SAINT ETI­ENNE IS IN DAYLES­FORD, VIC­TO­RIA. WHAT IS YOUR CON­NEC­TION TO THE AREA? Be­ing from Mel­bourne, Dayles­ford is a town that I fre­quent reg­u­larly as it’s less than an hour’s drive from home. I can eas­ily pop down for a long lunch, or a day in the spa. I’ve vis­ited many times in the past and will con­tinue to for years to come. WHAT ARE YOUR IM­PRES­SIONS OF THE TOWN? It’s an in­cred­i­bly charm­ing place. As soon as you hit the out­skirts of Dayles­ford you’re met with quaint her­itage homes, gor­geous gar­dens and ar­ti­san mak­ers. En­ter­ing the main strip, you’ve got an end­less sup­ply of great cafés, res­tau­rants, bou­tiques and art gal­leries.

WHAT IS THE LAND­SCAPE LIKE? Bal­larat (20 min­utes away) was a hub for Vic­to­ria dur­ing the gold rush era and Dayles­ford re­tains much of that 1800s ar­chi­tec­ture — it’s like step­ping back in time. Hep­burn Springs — a part of the re­gion — is home to min­eral springs that were formed more than five mil­lion years ago through vol­canic ac­tiv­ity and have been vis­ited by lo­cals since 1860. It’s the rea­son why there are so many good day spas and bath­houses in the area.

WHAT DID YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT SAINT ETI­ENNE? It is such a unique prop­erty in Dayles­ford. The Mel­bourne-based own­ers have a great un­der­stand­ing of de­sign ver­sus func­tion­al­ity and im­ple­mented it in a 1912 Fed­er­a­tion home. I love the denim fridge and the at­ten­tion to de­tail through­out the house is out­stand­ing. Best of all, it’s a short stroll to the cen­tre of town. HOW WAS YOUR STAY? Saint Eti­enne feels more like a home than a ho­tel. The kitchen al­lows you to cook up pro­duce from lo­cal ven­dors and you can eas­ily spend an af­ter­noon sit­ting in the back gar­den shar­ing a bot­tle of wine with some friends. It’s per­fect for switch­ing off.

WHERE DID YOU GO FIRST AF­TER CHECK­ING IN? We headed straight to the Lake House for a long lunch. Culi­nary di­rec­tor, Alla Wolf-tasker, is one of Vic­to­ria’s best chefs and the ap­proach to food at Lake House is sim­ple, with a fo­cus on sourc­ing from small-scale lo­cal sup­pli­ers. The menu changes sea­son­ally and fea­tures de­lec­ta­ble in­gre­di­ents such as Win­ter Nelis pears, rab­bit and hare, as well as spring lamb with as­para­gus, tak­ing you on a culi­nary jour­ney down coun­try lanes through to farm pad­docks. The din­ing room is a beau­ti­ful place to sit, with huge win­dows over­look­ing Lake Dayles­ford.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SPOTS IN DAYLES­FORD AND WHY? I al­ways say no visit to Dayles­ford is com­plete with­out a stop at the min­eral spa at Pep­pers Min­eral Springs Ho­tel. It over­looks French pro­vin­cial-style gar­dens and leaves you feel­ing very re­laxed and re­ju­ve­nated. >

WHAT ELSE DID YOU DO WHILE IN TOWN? For me, Dayles­ford is all about down­time so I usu­ally fill my days try­ing out the dif­fer­ent spas. My go-to, how­ever, is Salus Day Spa (at the Lake House) for its tree­house-style treat­ment rooms.

ANY SUG­GES­TIONS FOR DAY TRIPS? The Pyre­nees wine re­gion is on Dayles­ford’s doorstep and is one of my favourite places. It’s not as busy as the Yarra Val­ley and you can have a re­ally peace­ful af­ter­noon. If you’ve got kids in tow then I’d head to Bal­larat and visit Sov­er­eign Hill — loads of fun!

WHAT WAS THE BEST EX­PE­RI­ENCE YOU HAD IN DAYLES­FORD? There’s just some­thing in the air in Dayles­ford. It’s peace­ful, there’s a sense of old world charm, there’s im­pec­ca­ble din­ing and world-class spas. I think ev­ery time I leave af­ter a week­end in the town I feel re­laxed and recharged. And that feel­ing lingers with me and keeps me com­ing back when life gets a bit too stress­ful. It’s what a coun­try es­cape should be.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TRIED-AND-TESTED TRAVEL TIPS? I al­ways re­search lo­cal cus­toms be­fore vis­it­ing a des­ti­na­tion — ei­ther on­line or via some­one I know who has been there. I par­tic­u­larly try to find out about get­ting around, tip­ping and what to wear. It’s es­sen­tial to avoid get­ting ripped off and hav­ing un­com­fort­able ar­gu­ments over money. I also al­ways have a carry-on travel kit with cleans­ing wipes (for re­mov­ing make-up on long-haul flights when you are des­per­ate for a shower), tooth­brush and tooth­paste (brush­ing your teeth has the bril­liant abil­ity to make you feel fresh), mois­turiser (face and body), lip balm and a BB cream. If my lug­gage is lost, I can sur­vive. Saint Eti­enne can ac­com­mo­date up to six guests. To book, tele­phone 0430 068 999 or visit sain­te­ti­enne.com.au

Saint Eti­enne’s soft white-on-white in­te­ri­ors have a calm­ing ef­fect on vis­i­tors. FAC­ING PAGE Travel blog­ger Rhi­an­non Tay­lor.

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