Daylesford & Macedon, VIC

Weekender's guide to Daylesford VIC

By Oceana Setaysha

September 4, 2020 | 7 minute read

There’s nothing better than getting out of the city, away from the echoing car horns and the singing of sirens. In Victoria, visitors and locals are positively spoiled for choice when it comes to the city getaway and one of the best examples of this is Daylesford.

Located around an hour and a half from Melbourne by car, but also accessible on the V/Line train, Daylesford has long been known as Victoria’s health and wellness hub. The region has a reputation for relaxation, but there’s adventure and fun to be found here as well. Nature-lovers, foodies and families alike will rejoice at the change of scene and the opportunity to bathe in natural mineral waters, explore the area's historic icons and sample the spectacular offerings when it comes to food, relaxation and wine.

For those wanting to make the most of their trip to the Daylesford region, there’s no shortage of things to do. Here are a just a few ideas, activities and locations that are definitely worth adding to your list.

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Drink The Water 

Daylesford has always been a very popular tourist location because of its mineral waters. Famed for their healing powers, the popularity of the numerous Daylesford mineral springs drew big crowds in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many signs of that obsession with the local waters remain, and there are several spots where you can pump and taste the waters for yourself. Check out the Central Springs Mineral Reserve, Leitches Creek Mineral Spring, Wombat Flat Mineral Spring or Glenlyon Mineral Spring. Many of these locations also have short walking trails and space to enjoy a picnic or BBQ along with your drink.  

Take A Walk

It has been said that the Daylesford region is a walker’s paradise, and being avid ramblers ourselves we are prone to agree. There are hundreds of kilometres of beautiful trails worth walking in the area, and the hardest part is really choosing which ones to wander along. Why not take a walk along the lakeside at Lake Jubilee or Lake Daylesford, or take a wander up Thomas’ Lookout – Cornish Hill to see the view. The Wombat State Forest is a great spot, or for those wanting a longer walk there’s the Domino Rail Trail, starting from Trentham and winding through. For something closer to Daylesford town you can’t miss the stunning Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, which even has a cute little coffee shop tucked away inside. 

Step Back In Time

Daylesford is known as being a historic area, but the best place to really get a look at the past here is in Clunes. In 1851 the gold rush came to Victoria, and Clunes was at the centre of that prospecting fever. The booming history of this small town remains clear to this day, and Clunes is the best place to see the incredibly preserved buildings that were commonplace at the time. Get up close to the 19th-century architecture of the township, located just 40 minutes from Daylesford, and don’t forget to pop into the local museums and other historic icons. It’s a true opportunity to step back in time.

Have A Soak

Once you’ve had your time to wander, Daylesford is a great place to take some time for yourself as well. Treat yourself a soak in the mineral waters that the region is known for with a trip to the historic Hepburn Springs Bathhouse and Spa. Set in a quaint valley with a stunning backdrop, the Bathhouse pulls in healing mineral water from local springs to their baths and spas, and have been doing so since 1895. We’re pretty confident in saying they’re the relaxation experts, and their offerings include a variety of massage, bath and body therapies to unwind the mind and enliven the spirit. 

Treats and Eats

The Daylesford region isn’t just known for its waters, but also for its bountiful harvest and artisan products, which you can sample for yourself in a number of ways.  Starting your day right in Daylesford is both easy and delicious thanks to the wide range of cafes and breakfast spots begging to be tried. For first timers there’s an even popularity split between Larder, with its dedication to local produce, and Cliffy’s Emporium, famous for their handmade hash browns and rustic interior.

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, something to tide you over, or a tasty morsel to take home with you, there are three spots to poke your head into. First there’s the Chocolate Mill in Mount Franklin, where experts handcraft more than 100 varieties of chocolate goodies. Then there’s the Red Beard Historic Bakery (image above) famed for its tasty sourdough and enormous oven. Finish up with Istra, a local smallgoods producer with a barebones shopfront showcasing their meat goods, and some European extras. 

Fine Dining Galore 

For those looking to live fancy during their trip to the Daylesford region, there are a few dining locations that might tantalise your tastebuds. A popular choice is Lake House, awarded 2 Chefs Hats by The Age Good Food Guide and listed among the top 50 restaurants in Australia by Gourmet Traveller. Alternatively try Sault, a fabulous restaurant serving regional produce in seasonal Modern Australian cuisine. Both venues offer stunning wine lists to match, and are perfect for an elegant and delicious meal. 

Hepburn Springs
Hepburn Springs

Market Visit

The Daylesford region is rich in many things, with quality produce chief among them. Getting your hands on fresh fruit and veggies is as easy as dropping by at one of the many farmers' markets in the area. You’ll find almost every town in the region offers one, running on different days of the weekend, so whenever you visit you’re guaranteed to have somewhere to stop at. 

Have A Tipple

While it’s nice to enjoy a tipple with your meal, sometimes it’s worth travelling for the drink alone and in Daylesford that is definitely true. Wine enthusiasts will be well catered for with a trip to the Passing Clouds Winery (pictured above) which offers a fantastic cellar door experience with food and views of the vineyard. For something different, take a trip to Daylesford Cider to try their wide range of award-winning ciders using English heritage apples, and sample the offerings from their cellar door while you’re there. 

Whether you’re heading up for the day, or planning to stay overnight for a weekend or mid-week escape, there’s so much to do in Daylesford. Make the most of your adventure by planning a few activities in advance, but don’t forget to leave some things up to chance as well. 

We speak from experience when we say there’s something lovely about wandering aimlessly in Daylesford and the other small towns of the region. Also, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, have a look at our local Daylesford holiday home listings, so you can experience the region in style. Enjoy!    

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