The Lowdown: Daylesford+HepburnSprings
We all travel for different reasons. Some of us want to escape the humdrum of everyday life; for others it’s to experience new cultures, to discover new food styles; probably for most of us it’s simply to bask in the delicious notion that you’re not at home; that everything around you is exciting and new. For me, its new encounters soaking up the architecture, style, art, food, homewares…the list is very long. Victoria’s Daylesford + Hepburn Springs ticked many boxes for me.
“Honest country fare with a gourmet twist” Cliffy’s Emporium
When staying in Daylesford and considering your first port of call for a quick bite to eat or a coffee, pop into Cliffy’s Emporium. Bursting with seasonal and organic, local and regional produce, this is a real find for newcomers and locals alike.
Want to go upmarket? Book a table at The Argus, walking distance from the charming Dudley boutique hotel in Hepburn Springs (or 3km from Daylesford). If you are a ‘real foodie’ the degustation menu is a must. Every mouthful is an OMG moment. Add to the equation brilliant service (each staff member serves a specific dish and then explains everything about that particular dish), the exceptional wines and the elegant surrounds – The Argus is one destination you must experience.
Sumptuous dining experience” The Argus, Hepburn Springs: Sumptuous dining experience
There’s a sprinkling of good art galleries, but top pick is The Convent Gallery on the crest of Wombat HillWombat HillW, Daylesford. According to the folks at the gallery, The Convent was “built on a hill to be close to heaven”. At the time of visiting there were several concurrent exhibitions for your viewing pleasure. The Convent houses four main galleries as well as two additional spaces to display artists’ work. There’s also a rather lovely wine bar and separate bistro should you desire more than just food for the soul.
Outside Manteau Noir – step inside and be transported to another glorious world”Manteau Noir – step inside and be transported to another glorious world
First stop – Manteau Noir. A decadent boutique for lovers of vintage French-style goods, unique finds for the home, collectible garden accessories and everyday wearable pleasures for your wardrobe. Adding to the shopping experience, expect to find quirky touches added for good measure. Of particular note, boutique owner Victoria Varrasso stocks irresistible treasures collected from Parisian brocante markets complemented by her own range of tactile hand-made, French-inspired clothing.
Manteau Noir has an online shop but the appeal of this boutique is being there. It is a pure delight where the senses are teased and tantalized. Do take your time browsing, there’s plenty to discover.
Equally delightful but different is Moss & Brown stocked with beautiful objects by creative people from Daylesford and overseas.
You’ll find some antique pieces at Manteau Noir, but for a full-on assault of all things ‘old’ there are plenty of options. Top pick is The Mill Markets. Two huge warehouses (for want of a better description) house thousands of odds and ends. You can spend hours trawling through the different stalls reminiscing or wondering about the raison d’etre of some objects on display. Remember one person’s junk is another person’s treasure so go with an open mind – you might strike gold!
If you don’t have a car and you’re exploring Daylesford on foot then The Brick Lane Bazaar in the main street is a good as any place to fossick. If you’re past the 50-years-old mark, a visit here will take you down memory lane. If you have youngsters or grandchildren, take them too – they’ll see your life through new eyes.
The list above is just for starters, there’s plenty to see and experience beyond the ‘city walls’. Worthy of a visit is Lavandula, the Swiss-Italian Farm specializing in lavender.
Reminiscent of a sprawling European country garden, Lavandula is a must-visit destination. We visited during the winter yet it didn’t disappoint. In summer it would be visually spectacular with its carpets of purple, but the colder months are equally soul-quenching with its 1860s stone buildings and geese roaming freely.
The bounty of handmade lavender products available for purchase guarantees you’ll find gifts for family and friends. While there, don’t miss La Trattoria’s fare featuring seasonal produce. The lavender scones are a real winner.
There are many other options available for the newcomer to Daylesford-Hepburn Springs including the mineral-spring spas, the Belgian Chocolate Mill, the art galleries and homewares shops, and glorious mountain walks.