With fresh country air, farms and orchards all around, natural spring waters and great places to eat, a weekend in Daylesford is all about indulgence.
DO In the next tiny village you’ll find Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa (Mineral Springs Crescent, Hepburn Springs, + 61 3 5321 600).Sink into the warm mineral waters in the architect-designed communal bathing area before heading into a treatment room for a reviving 60-minute massage treatment. The Daylesford Sunday Market (18 Raglan Street) is a must-do. Wander through the stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery and candles to antiques and produce. Stock up on some freshly baked bread, local jam and apples picked straight from the tree for a picnic then head to the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens (Central Springs Road). More than 150 years old, this enchanting park has beautiful walks, views over the town and towering, shady trees.
EAT AND DRINK At Kazuki’s (1 Camp Street Daylesford, +61 3 5348 1218), chef Kazuki Tsuya takes the regional produce and creates refined dishes – beef tataki with eggplant, puffed grains and horseradish, for example – with Japanese overtones and classical techniques. Begin and end the day at Breakfast and Beer (117 Vincent Street, +61 3 5348 1778), a cosy spot providing one of the best starts in town – be it fancy homemade crumpets or corn fritters – and, after dark, a selection of craft brews.
STAY Daylesford’s renaissance in the past 15 years or so is largely due to Alla Wolf-Tasker, the owner and executive chef at Lake House (4 King Street, Daylesford, +61 3 5348 3329). She and her husband, Allan, built this restaurant in 1984 and have nourished it and relationships with local farmers ever since. This is the ultimate in gourmet getaways, with luxe, contemporary rooms – some of them overlooking the lake – a Scandinavian-style spa with treehouse tub and, of course, the restaurant. At lunch the best spot is on the sunny terrace, although the dining room is the epitome of elegance. The signature dish is the picture-perfect Rivers and Lakes, with Murray cod, trout, eel, freshwater crustaceans, watercress and wild fennel.
GET THERE Daylesford is around a 90-minute drive from the Melbourne CBD.
Images: Lake House