Just an hour’s drive northwest of Melbourne, the Daylesford & Macedon Ranges Region is one of the most beautiful places to relax and unwind. Breathtaking views, a laid-back atmosphere and striking landscapes greet you from every angle, with a myriad of health and wellness places, quirky cafes and a variety of family-friendly things to do.
The Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area has a variety of things to do. Whether it’s relaxation, getting outdoors or enjoying a lovely glass of wine, there are options to explore throughout the area.
If there’s one thing the Daylesford area is known for, it’s relaxation. Filled with luxury options to relax and rejuvenate, the area is home to the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia. It’s all about restoring your body’s balance, slowing down and enjoying the tranquillity. At most of the spas, you can opt for a day visit or if the spa incorporates a hotel as well, you can make a whole weekend of it.
The Daylesford Mineral Spa is one of the most acclaimed and awarded natural mineral spas in Australia. Enjoy the steam room, lavender sauna, detox box, outdoor sun deck, two mineral water spas and a plunge pool.
Alternatively, Hepburn Springs Bathhouse offers a mineral spring experience, meaning the water contains various natural minerals. The Bathhouse has various options for mineral bathing, including a public area for traditional social bathing, and private mineral bathing meaning you can truly relax without anyone around. In the private option, bath salts are customised which is an added bonus.
Of course, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs aren’t only known for mineral spas and luxury treatments. It’s also a wonderful area to explore the great outdoors. The region has been shaped by its volcanic history, with rolling hills, lush valleys and rocky outcrops.
Attractions include Mt Franklin, Hanging Rock, Lerderderg Gorge and Trentham Falls. The great thing about the area is that it doesn’t all have to be done on foot either. Why not follow one of the trails on horseback or mountain bike so you can enjoy the view another way? If you’re really adventurous, you can also scale the rock faces in the Wombat State Forest or the Lerderderg State Park 300-metre gorge.
The enchanting and outstanding Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens are built on top of an extinct volcano and can be seen from most locations around the area. There’s a lovely scenic drive around the edge of the garden, however, walking through it is really the best way to experience nature. There’s also a charming café, Wombat Hill House Café and Kitchen Garden to break up your exploration if you get hungry.
There are also plenty of bush trails through the region, as well as fishing opportunities and loads of golf courses if you want to hit a ball or two. If you’re in the mood for camping, you can stay pitch your own tent in one of the national parks, or choose a holiday site with facilities of which there are ample.
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As one of Australia’s premier paddock to plate dining regions, Daylesford has a long legacy as the gourmet heart of the region. In saying this, however, the nearby areas of Kyneton, Trentham, Hepburn Springs and Woodend aren’t that far behind. Top food and delectable wines are in abundance in the region. Take an afternoon to savour the vineyard views and enjoy the delectable local produce throughout the area.
Of note is Curly Flat with their signature pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay, and Hanging Rock Winery where you can enjoy a light Macedon sparkling and pinot. Of course, you’ll also be able to enjoy stunning views of Hanging Rock.
If you’re after a genuine paddock to plate experience though, you can’t go passed Cloud 9 Farm. Whether it’s merlot or shiraz, the winery offers delicious and fresh wines, and the farm produces homemade cheese.
If you’re not into wine and prefer cider instead, consider a visit to Daylesford Cider Company. The traditional ciders are made from heritage estate-grown apples and in the winter, you can even warm up with mulled cider by the fire.
It’s not hard to find memorable places to eat and drink in the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs region. Start with a Daylesford icon for breakfast or lunch: Cliffy’s Emporium. It is a cafe, produce and wine store all rolled into one.
For baked goods and strong coffee don’t go past Wombat Hill House. Pancho Cafe also serves great coffee, with its coffee beans supplied by Melbourne’s Wide Open Road. If eating ‘clean’ is at the top of your agenda, then make for Harvest Cafe. And make sure to bring your appetite to Larder Cafe, they have a sizeable menu – and you’ll be tempted to try it all.
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The portfolio of properties available in the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs region really is incredible. Most are luxury accommodation options, however, there are some budget-friendly alternatives too.
When choosing where to stay, you need to consider why it is you’re visiting the region. If you’d like to check in to a resort and not leave until it’s time to go home, then you’ll need to find accommodation that has everything you want and need, including restaurant options. Alternatively, if you’re in the region to enjoy everything it has to offer, consider the proximity of the hotel to the wineries, external spas, restaurants and hikes.
The Lake House comprises six acres of country gardens that extend down to the waters of Lake Daylesford. Exploring the property is an experience in itself and the renowned restaurant is the cherry on top. There’s also The Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel with suites for two right up to villas for eight. Heritage meets contemporary comforts at Peppers, with a restaurant and spa on-site and surrounded by picturesque gardens. Also of note is Bellinzona Resort and Spa which is located in the heart of Daylesford. The resort oozes charm and elegance and offers a deluxe treatment centre and the option to sample some of the region’s best wines.
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The great thing about the Daylesford region is that it’s so close to Melbourne city and Melbourne airport that there are plenty of tour and package options, even if you don’t live in Victoria.
Tour and package options include hot air ballooning over the spa country, wine and adventure tours, horse riding trail rides and forest walks. The latter lets you experience some of the more secluded and hidden areas of the region and these can be guided by a person or, thanks to modern technology, a handheld GPS unit. Another fun way to experience the area is through a wombat discovery tour, where you can travel in a custom safari bus through the bush tracks to see the unique native animals in their natural environment.
Of course, you can also get spa packages as a day-visit or a weekday/weekend deal, depending on what you’re after. Many packages may even include a meal in the hotel restaurant or a complimentary bottle of wine.
When it comes to the region though, remember, it’s all about rejuvenation, so no matter what you choose, you’ll return home feeling refreshed and revived.
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