It isn’t often that life throws a time machine your way, so hop in when it does. And by ‘hop in’, we mean travel a short 1.5-hour drive to Daylesford Victoria. Nestled between Ballarat and Bendigo in the Great Dividing Range, this rural Victorian town is the history lesson we all should’ve received at school. Admittedly, this conclusion may have something to do with the town’s rich mineral springs, captivating Victorian-era architecture and up-and-coming food scene. Nevertheless, we promise at the end of this history lesson you’ll leave with rejuvenated pores and a stomach of the region’s best wine and cheese … which beats an essay deadline any day. Read on for our top picks of things to do in Daylesford.
The historic Hepburn Bathhouse has been providing wellness bathing since 1895 - wow! Whether you're after a mineral bath, or spa experience - you'll find something for you. Wanna stay for more than just an afternoon? There are 10 luxury villas too from $295/night for you to turn that relaxing afternoon into a weekend retreat.
If you really want to delve into a traditional country market and discover those second-hand prizes, the Mills Market is right up your alley.The warehouse has all the trinkets and artisan homewares to fill your big city apartment, keeping you stylish but also extremely down to earth. Be prepared to stay for hours, as this maze engulfs you with its endless rows of stalls. For the foodies among us, set aside some time to visit the Daylesford Farmers Market on the firstSaturday of every month. The market reels in fresh produce from all aroundDaylesford and its surrounding farms.
While it was built in 1929, you wouldn’t be able to tell Lake Daylesford was man-made. Its picturesque setting can be viewed from a walking trail that wraps around the lake’s parameter. The good thing about this country town is that you won’t be needing to pack any gumboots. If this 45-minute stroll isn’t enough to work off those morning pastries, get your bathers on and hire a paddle boat. That’ll give you an excuse to grab a bite at the Boathouse Café on your way home!
The best way to envisage Vincent Street is to imagine if Brunswick St and rural Victoria had a baby. This rustic Daylesford main street is flanked with heritage architecture and boutique stores to transport you back to the 19th century … but without the corsets thankfully. After a caffeine hit from Pancho café, stumble down to the intersection of Vincent Street and ‘My wardrobe’s about to get a whole lot bigger’. Come prepared with a big bag to take home all the items you thrift at Vincent Street’s timeless vintage stores, such as Brick Lane Bazaar and Found.
If buying new clothes wasn’t the cultural awakening you had in mind, walk a couple blocks over to Convent Gallery at the Convent Daylesford. The gallery showcases iconic Australian art and design across three stories, with a new exhibition every 6-8 weeks. On your way out, indulge in some bakes good at Bad Habits Café. Just remember … you’re here for the art.
Animus Distillery is every Gin lovers safe haven. Founded by four friends in a small Fitzroy North Garage, this distillery has retained all itsFitzroy charm and edge. Animus’ speciality is its gin flights, composed of some of the highest grade 100% Australian grain spirit. The gin is triple filtered using a custom gravity-fed carbon filter system, which provides a pure base for the alcohol’s botanicals.
If you’re really looking for an opportunity to drink away 2020 and end up in the 19th century, then the Farmers Arms is Daylesford’s gift to you. Built in 1957, the pub is a staple of the town and has served as a reliable watering hole for locals. For no frills, true Aussie, country pub ambiance, kick on to this pub after lunch (or dinner).
A short 10-minute drive from the centre of town, Daylesford Cider Co is a hallmark of handcrafted cider. It produces a range of craft ciders made using 17 varieties of English-heritage listed cider apples, which are grown on a local farm. English apples have never tasted so good, with a selection of novel ciders to quench your palette, from a still bone-dry to a full fruity, carbonated pint. And if that’s not enough to convince you, the place has collected a mantelpiece of medals, including Trophy for Best Cider in the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Show.
For some of the best home-made Daylesford food, head to Wombat Hill House in the BotanicalGardens. Originally built as a house for the head gardener in 1948, the house has been converted to house all our guilty pleasures. Equally as delicious,I’m referring to the clouds of pastries, cakes and bread baked and sold in the café. The casual country café offers simple seasonal food that is predominantly sourced locally. If the weather’s nice, feel free to grab a takeaway bag and find a spot to eat in the gardens.
If your sweet tooth isn’t tamed by your visit to Wombat Hill, pop into Pancho Café on Vincent Street. In addition to a selection of cakes and sweet treats, the rustic café caters for an all-day breakfast menu. A caffeine hit, coupled with smashed avo and a poached egg on toast, is the perfect hangover cure to get you back on your feet after a day of gin tasting and a night at the Farmers Arms.
For those of us who appreciate the finer things in life, finish the trip with an upmarket Daylesford dinner at the Boathouse Daylesford. Dreamily floating on the banks of Lake Daylesford, the restaurant’s food and wine matches its prime real estate. A personal favourite is the prawn linguine, paired with a glass of chardonnay to help the medicine go down. Its cosy interior backs onto an expansive outdoor deck, making its dining experience perfect for all seasons of the year.
From $440/night. The Lake House is one of Daylesford’s luxury hotels, boasting six acres of country gardens. These extend to the lake, giving guests prime access to the water and walking trails. The property offers a range of facilities including a restaurant and bar, spa, cooking school, conference rooms, wedding spaces and tennis courts. There’s really no reason to leave this oasis.
From $265/night. If you’re looking for something to officially certify you as a local, L’Atelier Daylesford is a boutique Airbnb in the middle of town that will serve as the perfect basecamp. Just a hop, skip and jump away from all the main attractions, this apartment offers a priceless combination of convenience and style. The apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and can sleep up to six people.
From $265/night. We're loving Cosy Tents and their range of 5m and 6m bell tents, as well as new hybrid tents that feel more like tiny homes than glamping. Located just 15 minutes out of Daylesford, enjoy this private luxury campsite, treat yourself by ordering a brekkie box or bottle of champagne! Coz, why not?
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