We couldn’t have timed our girls weekend in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs better. The leaves had just started to turn amber, there was a bite in the morning air that left a soft dew on the ground and yet by lunchtime it was warm enough to shrug off our cardies and lie in the sun-warmed grass. If this is your usual autumn in country Victoria then I am a huge fan of the season.
Known as Victoria’s Spa Country, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs are neighbouring towns in country Victoria that are home to the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia.
Just an easy 1hr30 drive from Melbourne, the atmosphere in this country region could not be more charming. With quaint gold-mining era architecture, passionate local producers and heath-boosting hot springs, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs offer a spa weekend with a difference. Here are the best things we discovered on our chic spa weekend.
Best things to do in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
You can’t come to this region without soaking in the soothing hot waters at the Hepburn Bathhouse. These elegant facilities were established in 1895 (and refurbished more recently!) and offer the only mineral spring bathing in Australia.
The light-filled facilities are split into 2 halves, with general bathing in the mineral pools at The Bathhouse, and more indulgent bathing facilities through the doors of The Sanctuary.
We spent 2 dreamy hours in The Sanctuary, rotating between the Spa Couches (hold on tight and work out those knots!), the cocoon-like Salt & Magnesium Pool and the outdoor Creekside Bathing, which overlooks the surrounding bush and was my personal favourite.
Also in The Sanctuary are a steam room and hamman and your entry includes towel, robe and slippers. It’s not a big complex and numbers are limited, which makes it more of an intimate and relaxing experience. We certainly came out feeling like happy, zen-filled jelly.
Hepburn Bathhouse also offers a range of spa and water therapies. For more information or to book visit their website.
Hepburn Springs Mineral Springs Reserve
Next door to The Bathhouse you can sample some natural ‘soda’ water straight from the source by drinking from the old-fashioned pumps of the Hepburn Springs Mineral Springs Reserve. We saw many visitors filling up large bottles of the mineral-rich water but personally I couldn’t drink too much because of the slightly sulphurous tang at the end.
I’m calling this the most adorable place you can eat in Daylesford – if I was to dream up the perfect country café and store it would look just like this. With old wooden shelves filled with local produce, a cabinet full of freshly made cakes, quiches and sandwiches, and a brunch menu which includes a big (and they mean big) breakfast with a cheddar cheese hash brown, do yourself a favour and come here with an empty stomach.
Cliffy’s Emporium, 30 Raglan St, Daylesford
Wombat Hill House
Another beautifully appointed café with tempting sweet treats & floral-draped gardens, Wombat Hill House is tucked away in the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, so you can easily walk off whatever you eat afterwards.
Wombat Hill House, Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens (entry off Central Spring Road), Daylesford
The Farmers Arms
It was the homely frontage of this pub that pulled us in but the hearty pub meals they served up were certainly not a disappointment. Servings here are generous – we probably didn’t need a starter and a main – and if you’re craving pork belly or steak and mash on a cold evening this is one of the best-priced places in town to enjoy it.
The Farmers Arms, 1 East St, Daylesford
Daylesford Cider Company
Carve out a slice of your Sunday to spend with the Daylesford Cider Company who produce a range of ciders using English-heritage listed apples grown organically in Daylesford. At their large farm on the outskirts of town you can enjoy a cider sampling experience – who knew there were so many varieties? – and wash it down with freshly made pizza from the wood-fire oven. Sunday sessions also include live music and there’s plenty of room to spread out on the grass after you’ve eaten, so pack a picnic blanket and get comfy.
Daylesford Cider, 155 Dairyflat Road, Musk
Vincent Street, the main street in Daylesford, has a number of independent boutiques, bakeries and coffee shops that are perfect fodder for browsing. If you want to bring home something a bit different, I recommend having a rummage at the antiques bazaar opposite the RSL, check out Alpacha Passion for sumptuous woollens and Bokeh for handmade jewellery and artwork, and you must, must, must look around Manteau Noir, an eclectic store filled with French antiques, homewares, locally sourced clothing and apothecary scents curated by Daylesford designer Victoria Varrasso.
Manteau Noir, Shop 1/27 Vincent Street, Daylesford
Where to stay in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs
There’s accommodation to suit every budget and boutique hotel lover in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. For my first night with the girls we stayed in a family room in a motel that was cheap and simple and did the trick.
For something more indulgent, however, I cannot rave enough about the Hepburn at Hepburn 1-bedroom villa I checked into with Justin. These handful of self-contained luxury villas are just minutes from Hepburn Springs Bathhouse and even if you’re not headed to The Sanctuary you can have your own spa experience in the spa tub in the bathroom. The villas have roaring fires, fully functioning kitchens, extra cosy touches like robes, slippers and bath salts, and they overlook an area of bush that has bouncing ‘roos bouncing and chirping birds in the morning.