When we were living in Melbourne, Australia, one of our favourite weekend escapes was to the tiny town of Daylesford. Along with its sister town of Hepburn Springs, this is a perfect place to take a break if you are in Melbourne.
Daylesford is nestled in the foothills of Australia’s Great Dividing Ranges and it takes less than two hours to drive from Melbourne. The colonial-era buildings are charming, with weathered timber, brick and iron lace, and the locals are very welcoming.
Originally one of the many towns that sprang up almost overnight thanks to the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s, Daylesford has since reinvented itself as an attractive weekend break destination.
We visited Daylesford, Victoria at many different times of the year and found it gorgeous in each season. Perhaps autumn is the most beautiful time of year to be in Daylesford, with the colours coming out on the trees.
Wandering about in Daylesford
Daylesford is just made for gentle wandering – along the high street, beside the pretty lake, and through surrounding woodland – take your pick!
The picturesque lake was made in the late 1920s and has a tree-lined path to wander around (it takes about 45 mintues) as well as paddleboats for hire and a children’s playground. If you’re by the lake stop for a coffee, an icecream and a browse at the Bookbarn.
Eating out in Daylesford
Daylesford is a real foodie hot spot in the Australian state of Victoria. Our favourite cafes in Daylesford include Koukla and Gourmet Larder. Don’t miss the fabulously-named Breakfast & Beer!
Obviously tasting some of Australia’s many wonderful wines must be a priority and Perfect Drop has a great selection. Also, Daylesford Wine Tours offers a boutique cellar door experience.
There is also the award-winning Daylesford Cidery.
Visiting Lavandula is one of our favourite things to do in Daylesford. This Swiss-Italian lavender farm is a stunning location for the annual harvest festival and in summer the lavender fields are glorious.
But Lavandula is a pleasure at any time of the year, with delicious food eaten under the trees and a tempting gift shop.
It’s an instagrammer’s paradise in Australia…
A spa weekend in Daylesford
Daylesford is a spa town so if that’s your thing definitely book a spa weekend in Hepburn Springs, during which you can also enjoy all the delights of the town.
This is one of the few places in Australia where you can drink natural spring mineral water and it has been a spa town for over a century, making the most of the over 65 mineral springs in the area. The Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, and the Peppers Springs Retreat are two top spa destinations.
Horse riding in Daylesford
We usually stayed in the budget accommodation at Boomerang Ranch in Daylesford and enjoyed many a gentle trail ride through the eucalyptus surrounding forests. The perfect way to enjoy the countryside and fresh air before heading for the cafes and spas!
Antique shopping in Daylesford
Daylesford has a lovely collection of antique and bric a brac shops and an afternoon spent browsing for treasures is very enjoyable. There are a number of art galleries showcasing the works of the thriving local artistic community.
Visit the ANZAC tree in Daylesford
War history is not for everyone but Daylesford is the proud location of a special tree. This ‘Aleppo Pine’ was planted as a seedling brought all the way from the Gallipolli Peninsula in Turkey, where many ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) fought and died during the Dardanelles campaign in the First World War. The seedling was from the Lone Pine, a tree that came to symbolise a famous battle in August 1915.
My great-grandfather was a Gallipolli veteran, travelling across the world from New Zealand to fight for freedom. The tragic loss of life and suffering at Gallipolli became a crucible for self-awareness and nationhood for Australians and New Zealand, as these fledgling countries established their identities independent of Britain.
On a more cheerful note, perhaps the cutest thing about Daylesford is that it was first named Wombat by the European settlers in the area. Whatever it’s called, this little town is all about pleasure so plan a weekend if you’re in Melbourne or include it on your Australia travel itinerary!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you visited Daylesford in Australia?