First published on 6 Nov 2013. Updated on 6 Feb 2014.
Mineral springs have made Daylesford a popular a holiday destination since the 1880s. Luckily, much of its period charm has survived the intervening decades.
See and do
Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat in Hepburn Springs is a 1935-built former village pub with a combination of Art Deco and Spanish Mission influences and backed by Tuscan gardens. The award-winning spa offers two hot mineral water pools overlooking the stunning gardens, with a colder plunge pool for the daring. There are saunas and steam rooms, an infrared detox box, face and body treatments using organic ingredients, and soft pak float beds that suspend the user in water to allow the maximum absorption of clay treatments. 124 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs 3461. 1300 737 444.
Shopping in the town is top-notch, with plenty of quaint antiques and fashion stores. Brick Lane Bazaar is an Aladdin’s cave of books, clothing and retro curios, specialising in the ’50s and ’60s; drop by if you’re in need of Beatles figurines, a fondue set or a miniskirt. 34 Vincent St, Daylesford 3460. 03 5348 3500. Pick up a toasty-warm alpaca wool jumper or coat at Alpaca Passion. 72 Vincent St, Daylesford 3460. 03 5348 1177. Restored in the 1980s, the Convent is a gallery, café and museum displaying relics of the nuns who lived here for more than 80 years. 7 Daly St, Daylesford 3460. 03 5348 3211. Daily 10am-4pm. $5. While you’re there, get a terrific view of the town from the pinnacle of the adjacent Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. Central Springs Rd, Daylesford 3460.
Eat and drink
Peppers’ fine restaurant, the Argus Dining Room, is overseen by executive chef David Willcocks. Expect dishes like barbecue Sher Wagyu beef and hay-smoked blue eye. Alternatively, you can have high tea served on fine antique china in the lounge. 03 5348 4199. The Lake House is executive chef Alla Wolf-Tasker’s place – she’s been running it since 1984 – and it has the type of warm, fussy elegance of a grand European hotel. The menu is traditional country European cooking interspersed with Asian and molecular touches, the wine list is excellent and the service brilliant. 4 King St, Daylesford 3460. 03 5348 3329.
The oldest pub in town is the Farmers Arms; go here for a beer or and a superior lunch in a beautiful, ivy-covered historical building. 1 East St, Daylesford 3460. 03 5348 2091.
The drive to Daylesford is under 90 minutes from Melbourne. Head up the Western Freeway (M8) and take the Daylesford exit at Ballan. The approach into Daylesford is forested and pleasant.
For more short getaways, visit off the beaten track.