Our Daylesford guide will help you make the most of a well-deserved wellness weekend away in Victoria’s spa capital.
Steaming mineral waters, mouth-watering morsels and mindful walks are all essential parts of a luxurious weekend escape in Daylesford, in Victoria’s Central Highlands. Here are our top picks to ensure you make the most of a regional escape in this historic town, just 90 minutes from Melbourne.
Ready for a wellness weekend? Discover our curated collection of Daylesford escapes.
DAYLESFORD WEEKEND AWAY: DAY ONE
Morning: A walking tour and coffee kick-start
Get acquainted with Daylesford on a walking tour of the town with Lynda Poke of Alice’s Journeys. Lynda has lived in Daylesford for more than two decades and her knowledge of the region is as evident as her passion. Lynda holds the keys to the city, literally, and will take you to some of the most historic buildings in town. Start by grabbing an espresso at café, restaurant and bar, Hotel Frangos, which started life as a bank before it was turned into a coffee palace in 1888. On your Daylesford weekend away, head to one of the five churches, all within a few minutes of each other, that were built in the boom of the mid-19th-century.
Visit the former courthouse and stand inside the old police lock-up, a tiny brick building with concrete cells that wasn’t decommissioned until the 1960s. If the coffee has kicked in and you’re wanting to keep walking, don’t miss the easy 2.8-kilometre stroll around the shimmering Lake Daylesford. Walk at your own pace to the birdsong and look out for the many swans, cormorants, ducks, sulphur-crested cockatoos, multicoloured parrots, and tiny wrens that call the lake home.
Mid-morning: To market we go
Every Sunday since 1981, up to 110 stallholders gather for the Daylesford Sunday Market. Run by volunteers and open until 3pm, it’s a one-stop shop for local artisan products. Stock up on cheese from Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese made with Holstein-Friesian and Jersey cow milk sourced from single herds in the Central Highlands and Western District volcanic plains; grab some gourmet mushrooms from So Mush Goodness and wash it down with Daylesford Cider, made using English heritage cider apples grown organically on the property.
Afternoon: The magic of minerals
Grab your bathers and head to the historic bathhouse, Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, where you can soak your weary body in the warm mineral waters of this famed spa region. Less than five kilometres from the centre of Daylesford, this award-winning luxury spa has welcomed bathers to its therapeutic mineral-rich waters since 1895. Try your own private mineral bathing experience with either a magnesium mineral bath, royal Moroccan milk mineral bath or thermal mineral mud bath. There are also a myriad of massages, steam therapies and water therapy treatments on offer. End your experience with Devonshire tea at the historic Hepburn Pavilion Café.
Evening: Dinner never looked so good
Lake House’s reputation precedes itself and it’s a name synonymous with the region. Credited with kick-starting regional destination dining at the time, owner Alla Wolf-Tasker is undeniably the doyenne of regional dining in Australia. Lake House Restaurant now holds two chef hats in the Good Food Guide and the lakeside property includes luxury accommodation, a spa and vast country gardens. The menu is a seasonal degustation incorporating vegetables and edible flowers from its sister property, Dairy Flat Farm, less than 10 minutes’ drive away. Like the cover of a Country Living magazine, Dairy Flat is as pretty as a picture. There is an immaculate farm that has hot houses, olive groves, and a rolling vineyard with pinot noir and chardonnay, frequented by the free-range guinea fowl.
DAYLESFORD WEEKEND AWAY: DAY TWO
Morning: Forest bathing with a moment of mindfulness
Ramp up your wellness on Daylesford weekend away with a mindfulness walk with Judy Griffith from Wild Mindfulness Australia. Judy takes guests to Toe Rag Track, in the heart of Wombat State Forest, 20 minutes’ drive from Daylesford. There’s no shortage of Australian wildlife here but you’ll need a keen eye, as the wombats, echidnas, and kangaroos can be elusive. Judy greets guests in a clearing under a canopy of eucalyptus, where you begin with a gentle mediation, listening to the wind rustling among the trees. If you’re lucky, you might just hear a kookaburra laughing in the distance. Shortly afterward, you’ll take a gentle walk on an unmarked trail. Judy stops along the way for more mindfulness moments, explaining how to be present. As well as teaching you how to be mindful here, Judy will also skill you on things you can do at home to calm the mind.
Afternoon: Time to fizz
Now you’re feeling Zen, it’s time to focus on your gut health with a visit to The Fermentary. Founder Sharon Flynn is somewhat of a celebrity in the world of fermentation, after spending more than 20 years immersing herself in the techniques in Malaysia, Japan, Europe and the US. She turned to fermentation while living in Brussels when her daughter, who had long-term health issues. Within three months she was well again. Moving back to Australia, she set up her business about five kilometres out of the centre of Daylesford, where she creates delectable jars of original kimchi, smoky jalapeno kraut and red kraut with fennel seeds. She also makes water kefir with flavours such as fig and ginger, and burnt orange. From small beginnings, her products are now in more than 400 shops globally. You can also attend workshops here and learn the secrets of fermentation.
Early evening: Pre-dinner drinks
Cheese and wine, anyone? winespeake cellar + deli in the heart of Daylesford is a wine shop and bar with more than 700 wines. The focus of its products is on natural, minimal intervention, organic and biodynamic wines, so you needn’t feel guilty for indulging. As well as a wine shop, there’s a bar, delicatessen, artisan baked goods and cheese tower.
Evening: A French Twist
Far from his family’s favourite holiday spot of Daylesford, Matthew Carnell made his mark in Paris, before returning home to open Bistro Terroir. Originally from Melbourne, Matthew trained at two Michelin-starred Sur Mesure restaurant under the guidance of Thierry Marx, and then returned to Australia, bringing a touch of France with him. Even the restaurant has a French café feel. The menu features decadent dishes such as tempura snails, Sher Wagyu rump with café Paris butter, and crème brulée.