Over the years we’ve become frequent visitors to the small town of Daylesford, in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria. Just a short ninety-minute drive from Melbourne, it’s easy enough to get to if you’re after a weekend of quiet relaxation. The area is home to the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia and is therefore very popular for romantic weekend short-stays, or for girls weekends away.
However, we fell in love with Daylesford for a totally different reason. As some of you may know, we used to have two Bernese Mountain dogs (sadly one passed away this year). And Daylesford happens to be the best place to go with our furry friends. Many places there are dog-friendly and there are heaps of walks that you can do with them in the area.
So over the last six years, we’ve visited Daylesford so many times (with our fur kids in tow), that I’ve lost count. But I only just realised that I’ve never written a post about it. I’m not quite sure why, because after all that time, Daylesford has become like our second home!
So it’s well overdue, but here is our complete guide to what to do in Daylesford:
Daylesford is the perfect place to go for a weekend of chilling out. And that’s exactly what we like to do whenever we visit. Kicking back with a glass of local wine in hand, gazing out at the kangaroos feeding in the paddocks ahead of us, listening to the sounds of the Kookaburras. It’s truly magical.
Of course, if relaxation isn’t on your list, then there are plenty of other things you can do while there. However most of them involve some kind of chilling out, so you may need to learn how to relax for a weekend!
Go for a Spa
If you wish to pamper yourself, then Daylesford is the ultimate place to head. There are so many spa houses to choose from (more than sixty in the area) that you could spend the whole weekend indulging yourself and rejuvenating your body.
Your biggest problem might be deciding on a treatment. You’ll be choosing from over two hundred different types of therapies, so it’s a hard call! What will you go for, a massage, a facial, a mud bath, aromatherapy, homeopathy, reiki or maybe naturopathy?
Why not take a traditional communal bath in warm mineral water, or soak your body in a relaxation pool? After all of it, you’ll feel so revitalised, that you’ll feel like a brand new person.
Some of the best spas in the area are the Daylesford Day Spa, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, and the Salus Spa at the Lake House.
The Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm is ten minutes north of Daylesford. This restored 19th-century farmhouse is nestled amongst the rolling hills of Shepherds Flat. It’s a great place to visit, especially in summer when the Lavender is in bloom. The gardens are a joy to walk around and don’t forget to stop at the cafe for a Lavender cocktail or some Lavender scones.
Relax by the water at Lake Daylesford
Lake Daylesford is a popular family picnic spot, and it’s especially beautiful in spring or autumn, when the trees are in bloom, or when the leaves are changing. In summer, you can even swim in it, thanks to its calm, clean water.
If you need some light exercise after a big lunch, take a walk around the lake. It takes about forty-five minutes and you’ll get some stunning vistas, and you’ll come across lots of birdlife, such as swans, ducks, cormorants, and parrots.
If you still feel energetic after your walk, why not hire a paddleboat?
Shop till you drop!
If you feel like a day of shopping, Daylesford’s main street is lined with unique shops, selling anything from artwork, old books, homewares, alpaca wool clothing, and antiques.
If you need a caffeine refill in between shops, you won’t have any trouble finding a coffee shop in town!
Eat till you drop!
One of our favourite thing to do while in Daylesford is to eat! And there isn’t a shortage of places to satisfy your taste buds and to fill your bellies. Daylesford is home to numerous award-winning restaurants and cafes. Some are fine dining and some are more relaxed affairs. Most will offer you a “paddock to plate’ experience, and many use locally grown produce. A lovely meal paired with a nice glass of local wine is another great way to enjoy a weekend!
(keep reading for a list of our favourite restaurants)
Go for some wine tasting
The Macedon Ranges is home to many wineries, producing excellent wines. The area’s cooler climate provides great conditions for making exceptional sparkling wine, chardonnay and pinot noir. There are a few wineries just a short drive from Daylesford where you can head to taste some of those fine wines.
Captain’s Creek Organic Wines is family-owned, and produces amazing organic wines, along with some cider. Head there for a tasting, and stay for a delicious platter of local produce and cheeses. Passing Clouds is another great winery to check out.
Look for antiques at the Mill market
The Mill market is a large undercover secondhand market that you can wander around for hours. This brick-a-brac market has a vast array of items. You’ll find anything from furniture to clothing, jewellery, porcelain China, and much more. They stock pretty much everything you can imagine!
It’s a great place to go for a walk down memory lane!
Check out some artwork at Daylesford’s Convent Gallery
Nestled on the top of Wombat Hill, overlooking Daylesford, the Convent Gallery has extensive views of the surrounding area. Built in 1860, it was originally a private residence, before being turned into a convent in 1880. In 1989, it was bought by Tina Banitska, an artist.
The old convent is now the home to eight galleries, displaying artwork from over one hundred local, national and international artists. You will find sculptures, fine art, ceramics, limited edition prints, glassware and more. Different art exhibitions take place there throughout the year.
Why not check out the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, which are only a short walk away, for some more panoramic views of the beautiful surroundings.
Check out the waterfalls
If you like waterfalls, there are a couple to visit in the area. Sailors Falls is five minutes drive from Daylesford, off the Ballan-Daylesford Road. You can see the falls from the carpark, but there are also steps that you can take that go all the way down to the base. A couple of walking tracks leave from the base.
Trentham falls is twenty minutes drive from Daylesford, and is Victoria’s highest single-drop waterfall, plunging 32 metres.
In summer there might not be much water in these waterfalls, so they are best visited in winter, spring, or after heavy rain.
Where to eat in Daylesford
Over the years we’ve tried a few restaurants, and we have our old time favourites.
Kazuki’s is a Japanese-inspired modern bistro, and it’s a real delight. Its chef, Kazuki Tsuya, serves a fusion of contemporary Australian and Japanese cuisine. Pair this with some Sake, and you’re in for a treat.
Address: 1 Camp Street, Daylesford
The Perfect Drop
This charming bistro is set inside an old house with wooden decor. It also has a nice terrace outside for the summer months. The food is seasonal fare made from organic and local produce.
Address: 5 Howe Street, Daylesford
Sault has a magnificent lavender field backdrop and offers seasonal Australian and Tapas dishes. All dishes are prepared with fresh regional produce. Wash down the food with some delicious local wine!
Address: 2349 Ballan-Daylesford Rd, Sailors Falls
The Lake House restaurant offers beautiful views over Lake Daylesford, paired with fine food, and an extensive wine list. The service is outstanding and the food presentation is impeccable. Why not try their nine-course degustation menu?
Address: 4 King Street, Daylesford
If you venture outside of the town you can find more great places, such as Du Fermier in Trentham, and the Farmers Arms in Creswick.
Where to stay
Whenever we visit Daylesford, we always stay at the same place, Hollow Log Estate.
Hollow Log is five minutes outside of Daylesford, in Muskvale. The estate offers two homey self-contained cottages, overlooking acres of paddocks and the peaceful Wombat State forest.
Hollow Log is the place to go if you have dogs. So far, we’ve never found a more dog-friendly place anywhere in Victoria. It might explain why we go to Daylesford so often, as the dogs need their holidays too! At Hollow Log your dogs will have acres of land to run around, a dam to swim in, and will be so tired after all that exercise that they’ll be ready to sleep, while you go out and play!
Our favourite part of the day there is waiting for the sun to set while watching the kangaroos in the paddocks nearby. In winter, we love to sit by the fire, enjoying a glass of wine or two.
Even if you don’t have dogs, Hollow Log is still a great place to stay, providing total peace and tranquility.
So as you can see, there are many reasons why it’s easy to fall in love with Daylesford. If you are looking for a weekend of pure relaxation, then head to Daylesford; and take the dogs, they will thank you later!
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