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The Ideal Country Retreat
Daylesford has been fortunate to be the location of two major mineral discoveries in the past – natural mineral spring waters and gold minerals. Both of these huge findings in the 1800’s have made this Victorian town in Australia the delightful haven it is today and the ideal country retreat. It’s a popular day trip or weekend stay from Melbourne, about 1.5 hours drive. Here is my quick guide for what to do in Daylesford.
Five million years ago volcanic activity in this area at the foot of the Great Dividing Range formed the mineral springs. Indigenous Australians who inhabited the region knew the waters had ‘miracle’ healing qualities for many ailments. In the 1830s Europeans also discovered the special water, while digging for gold.
Soon the word spread and bathhouses were built. People were coming to bathe in the waters and drink their fill, to help cure them of their skin conditions, aches and other health problems.
The broader area around Daylesford is well-known for having 80 percent of Australia’s mineral springs.
Day spas have continued to flourish here over many years with people flocking here to enjoy the many health benefits. They certainly do a roaring trade, with tourists and city-folk wanting to escape for some serious R & R – rest and rejuvenation.
The spas offer more than 200 different types of treatments (I can’t even imagine that many), including mineral baths, steam rooms, salt pools, massages, body wraps and facials. It is a veritable mecca for wellness and luxurious pampering.
You can also drink, and bottle the water, as much as you want at the many springs located around town.
Snazzy fact: All the springs taste a little different due to the variation in mineral components, some more pleasant tasting than others.
About 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, Daylesford was once also a gold mining town and attracted Swiss Italians in the mid-1800s who came to discover gold here. These Europeans settled here and built properties with their wealth from the gold they found. The Italo-Swiss style of architecture is evident in some of the historic buildings.
They were also drawn to the mineral springs here too, of course. Can you believe their luck!
Lake Daylesford is about 20 minutes walk from the main shops and is a delightful spot to spend a few hours, if you can drag yourself away from all the pampering, that is.
A man-made lake, it was the location of the gold digging in the past. It is absolutely lovely around here.
The Boathouse restaurant/cafe at the lake is a wonderful spot to dine on the water’s edge and take it all in.
Delightful geese and ducks wander around the banks of the lake and swim. They are not scared of people at all and seem to be always ready for a selfie with you.
I spent a few hours here on the walking tracks around the lake, admiring the scenery. I love lakes for their calming effect.
People enjoy swimming, sun-baking, paddle boating, and having picnics here. It’s a great alternative to a beach for a fun family day out.
Other fun things to do in Daylesford
There are lovely shops on Vincent Street, where you will find homewares, clothing, gifts and more. Also on Vincent St are some fabulous bakeries, cafes and restaurants. I ate at a funky Italian place called Bocconcini, which I recommend.
The Daylesford Pub is also very popular, and just opposite the pub there is a popular ice cream shop, which I researched for you (you’re welcome), and it’s great.
Also here in Daylesford there are the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens that are over 150 years old. Apparently they are situated on top of an old volcano and spread over 10 acres.
Art galleries are aplenty here, the biggest one being Convent Gallery. There are many of them along Vincent Street.
That’s my quick guide to Daylesford. I hope this inspires you to check it out for yourself.
An ideal country retreat, Daylesford is definitely worth visiting for a day trip or preferably a couple of days. You will surely leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Tip: Weekends are very busy, with the town’s population sometimes doubling. So a visit during the week is ideal if you want some quiet time.
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Bye for now.