10 things to love about Daylesford
From its famous Lake and mineral springs to arts and crafts and fantastic food, Daylesford truly has something for everyone.
- Name: Megan Spielvogel
- Position: RACV Goldfields Resort events manager
- Why she loves it: The beautiful natural surroundings and the welcoming community.
- Absolute Favourite: Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens.
Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm has a lovely rustic setting just 10 minutes from Daylesford. The 1850s stone buildings now house a cafe and gift shop while the farm is planted with lavender. January, when the lavender is harvested, is beautiful but there are things to do throughout the year. The European-style gardens are worth a stroll and the vegie gardens supply the cafe. And the shop has lavender oil, cordial and soap. Watch out for the Harvest Festival (early January), the Autumn Festival (May) and the Primavera Festival (October). 350 Hepburn-Newstead Road, Shepherds Flat, lavandula.com.au
This funky cafe is one of the most popular in town. Wood-fire pizzas are made from local ingredients such as Tuki lamb. There’s a good choice of local wines and the service is friendly. Having coffee and cake under the rustic verandah is hard to beat. 82 Vincent Street, Daylesford. koukladaylesford.com.au
Wombat Hill Gardens
It’s beautiful to wander around these gardens, which were designed in the 1860s on top of an extinct volcano by Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller (he also established Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens). When the town is busy, it’s the perfect place to escape to and the views are beautiful. It’s handy for family picnics and the kids can run around. Drop into Wombat Hill House cafe for tea and scones or bring home some of their jams and relishes. High tea (Thursday-Monday) is recommended. The cafe is run by Alla Wolf-Tasker, of Daylesford’s acclaimed Lake House, who has been a champion of local producers for decades. Central Springs Road, Daylesford.
No wonder Daylesford is known as one of the prettiest towns in Victoria with such a lovely lake as its focal point. It’s ideal for a Sunday afternoon stroll; it takes about 45 minutes to whirl around the lake. It’s also a good place for kids to ride their bikes and enjoy the playground and paddle boats. Bring a picnic or use the barbecues. Bleakley Street, Daylesford.
The Convent Gallery has three levels of artworks. Built as a private residence in the 1860s, it was later a convent for almost a century. Artist Tina Banitska has transformed the building into seven galleries for Australian and international artists. There’s a bar, cafe and accommodation, and the chapel’s popular for weddings. There’s always something new to see and the views are a drawcard. 7 Daly Street, Daylesford, conventgallery.com.au
Springs and Spas
People come to recharge their batteries in Hepburn Springs’ mineral-rich waters – Hepburn Bathhouse opened in 1895 and is still going today. And for a real pamper session, it’s hard to resist the Daylesford Day Spa. hepburnbathhouse.com, daylesforddayspa.com.au
Bromley & Co
Artist David Bromley and wife Yuge have galleries in Melbourne and Sydney but Daylesford is their favourite getaway. A simple entrance leads into a large warehouse filled with art. Look out for larger-than-life paintings, clothing, prints and sculptures. 45a Vincent Street, Daylesford, bromleyandco.com
This is a big space with lots of little stallholders selling vintage items, jewellery, kitchenware and furniture. It’s like an enormous garage sale where you have to rummage through things to find what you want. I always look out for vintage handbags. You can take a break from fossicking at the cafe. 105 Central Springs Road, Daylesford. millmarkets.com.au
Goldfields bike trail
RACV has just opened a 4.5km mountain bike track that starts at our Goldfields Resort. It loops through Creswick Regional Park, linking up to the Goldfields Track. The new track was designed by mountain bike trail company Dirt Art. In the nearby forest, there are more than 100km of bike trails to suit all levels, and the popular 23km Wombat Loop is well signposted. RACV Goldfields Resort, 1500 Midland Highway, Creswick.
Wombat State Forest
The Wombat State Forest, between Daylesford and Woodend, covers 70,000 hectares. It’s a lovely place to smell the eucalyptus, enjoy the wattle and get back to nature because it’s home to wildlife such as koalas, echidnas, kangaroos and, of course, wombats. You can walk, cycle or ride horses in the forest. A good idea is to explore with self-guided GPS tours by Secret Forest Walks. Choose a level that suits you, and they also supply hampers.
Your top three tips
- Call into the Daylesford Visitor Information Centre. They’re a wealth of knowledge.
- Explore all the region, not just Daylesford.
- Enjoy the different seasons and don’t be afraid of winter – it’s cold but it’s lovely.