Darling Daylesford and Heavenly Hepburn
The natural beauty of the area adds to the calm and sense of wellbeing you feel when you take a trip to the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs region. You often see people strolling the streets with a gentle smile and a slower gait, obviously on a calm high having just been released from the hands of a masseur or out from under a seaweed wrap. There is not a lot of hustle and bustle around these parts – but then that’s the charm and the reason people visit.
The area has long been renowned as a place of healing due largely to a wonderful natural resource bubbling under the earth. The shire boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in Australia and an equally large number of therapists who take advantage of these natural waters. Holistic health is the name of the game and you can pretty much sign up for any kind of treatment imaginable.
*Image from Jacinta Moore
The redevelopment of the Hepburn Springs Bathhouse includes a new relaxation pool, a salt pool, steam room, new baths, therapy rooms and other start-of-the-art features. This fabulous facility certainly enhances the shire’s status as the ‘spa capital’ for visitors locally and from overseas. You need to book well in advance however, as it’s a popular spot. If you do miss out, don’t despair as there are also a host of private quality spa and natural therapy centres to choose from.
The towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs suggest days of a bygone era. The architecture is interesting and quaint, echoing a time when Swiss-Italian miners and other immigrants settled there and people travelled from afar to ‘take the waters’. Added to the period character is a newer artistic flair, spurred on by a broad community of artists attracted to the laid-back, somewhat alternative lifestyle opportunity. Both visual and performing arts are vibrant and obvious in the many galleries and performance spaces in the region.One gallery not to be missed is the multi-award winning Convent Gallery. You can spend hours here both indoors and out, wandering around the historic 19th century mansion, marveling at the beauty. The retail areas are divine and you can also stop for a lovely morning tea, light lunch or a drink at the Altar Bar. Many visitors are so impressed they book the gallery for their wedding!
Both casual café society and elegant fine dining are on offer in the region, with most eateries offering locally grown produce. Deco Restaurant at Peppers Springs Resort and The Lakehouse are classic fine dining options well worth a visit. For delicious organic, gluten-free and vegan options, try the Harvest Cafe on Albert Street. And to sample local wine in an interesting concept store away from the winery, try Wine is a Four Letter Word; you can order tapas to accompany the vino too.
For those who love a market, you won’t be disappointed. Daylesford’s weekly Sunday market at the old railway station is a must for visitors and locals. Stalls sell everything from fresh fruit, vegies and other local produce to clothing, plants, oils, soap, antiques and old wares. The Central Highlands Tourist Railway also operates a Sunday vintage railway service through the Wombat Forest to Bullarto and return. On the first Saturday of the month you can indulge in home grown and local produce such as honey, cheese and eggs at the Farmers Market at Victoria Park. And any day of the week you can rummage for antiques and collectables at the huge Mill Markets on Central Springs Road.
If you want to ‘take the waters’ in its most natural form, there are numerous mineral springs dotted throughout the region including six in the Hepburn Spring Mineral Reserve, the Deep Creek Mineral Spring near Eganstown 8kms from Daylesford, two located at Sailors Falls 8kms south of Daylesford and the Tipperary Spring 3kms from Daylesford and several more at Central Springs Reserve.
Daylesford also offers beautiful lakes and gardens to wander around and ponder the finer things of life. Jubilee Lake and Lake Daylesford are wonderful as are the Wombat Hill Botanic gardens where planting commenced in 1861. The gardens offer spectacular views and fascinating plants with many registered as Significant Trees including Blue Cedar, Elm, Birch, Cedar and Oak.
For those interested in the rich history of the town, you should visit the Historical Society Museum. And if you have a penchant for cricket, why not visit Cricket Willow in nearby Shepherd’s Flat – the only place in the world where visitors can witness the creation of a cricket bat from start to finish.
There are many gorgeous places to stay in and around the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs region. From historical and quaint to sleek and modern, you’re sure to find somewhere nice to lay your head and prepare your mind and body for a wellness weekend, or week...or month...
*Banner Image from Herry Lawford