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Top 10 Things to Do in Daylesford, VIC

The downright delightful Victorian town of Daylesford can be anything you want it to be: stress busting weekend retreat; foodies' paradise; art lovers' enclave; and even party central during the popular ChillOut Festival. Here are ten top things to do around town.
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford

Just 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, but a cliched million miles from the stresses of daily life, lies the lovely rural town of Daylesford.

Its picturesque location in the Macedon Ranges is reason enough to plot the GPS co-ordinates from the Victorian capital, but there are plenty of others as well. From enjoying the revitalising properties of the region’s famous mineral spas, to savouring delicious gourmet cuisine, getting back to nature, and trawling for antiques, the attractions of this day trip or short break destination are many and varied.

Here are ten of the best things to do in Daylesford.

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford. Image: Visit Victoria

1. Rejuvenate body and mind at a spa

On the leafy drive into Daylesford, you’re welcomed to ‘spa country’ — and with Australia’s highest concentration of natural mineral springs, it’s certainly a case of getting what’s written on the tin. Some hardy souls choose to drink the tangy, mineral rich water (pumps are provided at various locations), while others bathe in it for the reputedly therapeutic effects. Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa (three kilometres from Daylesford) is the ultimate mineral springs bathing experience. People have been ‘taking the waters’ here since 1895.

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. Image: Visit Victoria

2. Be amazed at the Mill Markets

If your jaw doesn’t drop below your shoulder line when you walk into the Amazing Mill Markets, check your pulse. This vast indoor market overflows with a dizzying collection of books, furniture, clothes and all manner of kitsch and curious memorabilia. Trash or treasure? You decide. Give yourself at least half a day to get through it.

3. Explore Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens

The gorgeous Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, just a short walk from Daylesford’s town centre, coat the top of what was once a volcano and will have you completely captivated. See a variety of rare plants and take in dreamy views of the surrounding region. And you’ll be perfectly positioned to enjoy lunch at the characterful Wombat Hill House café and kitchen garden. Insider tip: The Croque Senor is a culinary treat to die for!

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Wombat Hill House. Image: Visit Victoria

4. Enjoy culture at the Convent

Art lovers will be in their element in Daylesford. There’s a host of galleries to explore around the town, but one of the most impressive and historically significant is the Convent Gallery. Set on the lower slopes of Wombat Hill, this former 19th century convent is now an important showcase of national and international fine art. It’s also frequently described as ‘Australia’s most beautiful gallery’, so how are you going to resist that? And why would you try?

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford: Convent Gallery. Image: Visit Victoria

5. Make for the lake

Fun fact: While it’s hard to believe when you look at it, the town’s tranquil recreational centerpiece — Lake Daylesford — is actually man-made! Meander around the entire circumference of the lake, then settle in for a bite to eat on the deck at the Boathouse Restaurant (or perhaps push the boat out on a degustation at the uber chic Lake House). If the water looks irresistibly inviting and you happened to bring your bathers, there’s a small beach at the end of Chatfield Avenue on the lake’s southern side.

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Lake Daylesford. Image: Mark Chew

6. Get some retail therapy on Vincent Street

The glorious Victorian-era architecture along Vincent Street, Daylesford’s main retail strip, is jam-packed with eclectic fashion and homewares boutiques, food stores and cafes, and even a fourteen-room bookshop in an old bank. Work your way up one side of the street, then come back down the other to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Expect to make a few diversions to the car to drop off shopping bags — resistance is useless…

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford: Shop up a storm. Image: Visit Victoria

7. Graze on tasty treats at Cliffy’s

Cliffy’s Emporium cafe and foodstore has been a Daylesford institution since the 1950s. It’s a bit off the beaten track (aka not on Vincent Street), but just ask anyone and they’ll point you in the right direction. Shop for fresh local produce, preserves, cheese, honey, coffee, and other gourmet goodies, or soak up the rustic surroundings as you dine in. Their menu features an array of all-day-breakfast dishes and shared plates.

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford: Cliffy’s Emporium. Image: Mark Chew

8. Try some top local drops

The Macedon region has been producing mighty fine wines since the 1800s, so it would be rude not to give them a try, right? And luckily, you don’t have to go too far to do it. Less than ten minutes by car (or taxi!) from the heart of town, Passing Clouds Winery is renowned for its nuanced pinot noirs and chardonnays. Do a tour and tasting at the cellar door, then hunker down for a long lunch in the onsite eatery.

9. Hit a purple patch at Lavandula

Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, a twenty-minute drive north of Daylesford, teleports you out of rural Victoria and into the heart of Europe. Breathe deep and lose yourself in the purple haze as you shop for beauty products, aromatic oils, and, of course, scented bags of the dried blooms themselves.

Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford
Ten of the best things to do in Daylesford: Frangos. Image: Derek Salwell

10. Do cocktails at Frangos

The circa 1880s architecture and distinctive wrought iron gates are what attract many passersby to Hotel Frangos, but it’s the cocktail list and prime people-watching opportunities that often keep them there! Occupying a prominent corner on Vincent Street, draped in grape vines, and featuring Parisian-style seating on the pavement, this is the perfect place to relax with a beverage and contemplate your next move. Which, after a few days in Daylesford, might just be a permanent one.

For more inspiration, visit www.visithepburnshire.com.au.

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Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in Daylesford? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

About the writer

Julietta Henderson is a Melbourne-based travel writer and author. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying for ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket. Her first novel — The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman — is now available in bookstores.

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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