It must have felt like coming home to the early Swiss-Italian settlers when they decided to stay in the Macedon Ranges’ mountainous terrain amid mineral springs. One of Australia’s first holiday destinations in the 1870s, Daylesford continued to grow with an influx of gold rush settlers, and the shire’s lively heritage is visible to this day in its many historical buildings.
AT Reader Carol Woods says of the welcoming town, “Everyone’s happy and relaxed and always says hello to you. You feel like part of the family.”
And the 3000-strong town is an absolute evergreen with spa goers, artists and the gay and lesbian community. As accepting of diversity as they come, Daylesford hosts the annual Chill Out festival, Australia’s largest regional gay and lesbian celebration.
Interestingly, Around 80 percent of all naturally occurring mineral water in Australia can be found here, and Daylesford’s natural wealth and location (just 90 minutes’ scenic drive northwest of Melbourne) has led to a broad variety of bathhouses, boutique accommodation – such as the famous Lake House, run by gourmands the Wolf-Taskers, quirky and antique shops and scenic walking trails.
The mineral water comes in a huge variety of flavours, and visitors are given a map with details of the different pumps around town, along with the water’s various chemical combinations. So drink deep!
Where? // 114km (90mins) northwest of Melbourne in Victorian Spa Country.
Did you know? // The old Swiss-Italian macaroni factory in nearby Hepburn Springs turned 150 in 2009 and is officially Australia’s oldest Italian building.
Return to: the 100 Best Towns in Australia