Daylesford and Macedon Ranges Holidays
This hedonistic region is so close to Melbourne that it makes for an easy day trip, but if you linger for a night, or longer, the rewards are even greater with some very appealing accommodation and delicious dining choices.A visit to Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges is a journey into country chic, whether you’re soaking it up at the famous Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa or shopping along Kyneton’s stylish Piper Street.
The region includes pretty towns and hamlets alongside Daylesford – such as Hepburn Springs, Kyneton, Woodend and Trentham – all with unique characteristics and attractions. Hanging Rock is in the region, too, popular for its picnic grounds, walking trails and horse races. More recently, it has attracted crowds as a concert venue for big names such as the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen.
People have been visiting the twin spa towns of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford for more than 100 years to luxuriate in the waters. There are 60-plus mineral springs in the area and hundreds of spa treatments are offered at many and varied establishments. This isn’t called Australia’s spa capital for nothing.
The most famous, perhaps, is the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, which has been welcoming tired bodies since 1895. The bathhouse provides communal bathing in warmed mineral-water pools and a big range of spa treatments, from private mineral-water baths to massages and facials.
Eat and Drink
The region’s food scene is outstanding. You can pick from award-winning restaurants to rustic provedores. The upmarket restaurant at Daylesford’s Lake House has big windows to take in the lake and garden views, but it is best known for its seasonal and regional food, presided over by executive chef and Daylesford celebrity Alla Wolf-Tasker.
Away from the white tablecloths of the Lake House, Cliffy’s Emporium is a down-to-earth produce store come cafe and restaurant, also in Daylesford. You can sit under the vine-shaded verandah in summer with a coffee, or wine and a plate of food.
When you’re done pick up some local produce to take home. Annie Smithers has sold her famous Bistrot in Kyneton and is now at the helm of du Fermier, a French farmhouse-style kitchen in Trentham.
The breadth of accommodation includes cosy cottages, restored farmhouses, quirky bed and breakfasts, wineries, hotels and lakeside luxury villas. There are also some distinctive one-off properties, such as a Japanese-style ryokan and a Tuscan-style villa. You can stay in the towns to be within walking distance of restaurants and bars, or find your own little slice of seclusion on some acreage out of the towns.
Take a stroll down Daylesford’s Vincent Street, or Kyneton’s Piper Street, and you’ll find attractive homewares stores, provedores, galleries and antiques shops among the busy cafes and bakeries.
Many of the shops are in historic buildings. Even if you’re not spending big, the shops in both towns are fascinating and it’s a good idea to allow plenty of time for window shopping.
Daylesford and Macedon Ranges Like a Local
Most locals know Istra Smallgoods and swear by it. Istra is an out-of-the-way small-scale artisan family business producing hand-made quality products such as salami, chorizo and prosciutto. It’s near the small town of Musk, not far out of Daylesford, and well worth seeking out.