One of the most beautiful country towns in Australia, Daylesford is the perfect place for a romantic weekend, a family getaway or a fun girl’s weekend away in Victoria. Here’s everything you need to know for your Daylesford getaways in Victoria’s Spa Country including what to do in Daylesford, where to stay and more!
Further reading : Weekend Getaways from Melbourne
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A brief history of Daylesford
The first time you drive into Daylesford you will be blown away by the stunning scenery, the wide leafy streets, grand colonial mansions, and quaint shops and cafes. Daylesford also caters for people with all backgrounds and budgets. There are camping and picnics by the lake or 5-star accommodation with meals to match. There’s also a lot to see and do and I guarantee you’ll be looking in real estate windows before you leave.
The region has eighty percent of all the mineral springs in Victoria which were formed around 5 million years ago.
Gold was first discovered in 1851 and ended in the 1860s. During the gold rush, many European people settled in the area so many of the historic buildings have a distinct European influence.
The towns of Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs were created from four areas named Old Racecourse, Spring Creek, Daylesford and Wombat Flat. In 1880 a railway line was built which allowed people to discover the area and in 1929 Lake Daylesford was built.
Since the 1970s the number of visitors has increased every year. The population for Hepburn Springs and Daylesford is normally about 3600 but that number can double or even triple on weekends.
When to go to Daylesford
Autumn (March through May)
Humidity and temperatures combine to make autumn quite cold. Temperatures range from 23.7°C (74.6)°F and -8C (16.1°F) with warmer temperatures in the earlier months. Tourism is fairly quiet and with the autumn leaves its a beautiful time of the year to visit.
Winter ( June through August)
June – August is the second busiest season for tourism in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, so accommodation may cost slightly more. The perfect time for log fires and soaking in the hot springs.
Spring (September through November)
Spring temperatures range from 26°C (78.5°F) and -5°C (24.3°F), which can still feel quite cold on a windy day.
Summer (December through February)
The average high during this season is between 26C (78.8F) and 9C (48°F). Summer is a busy period for tourism.
How to get to Daylesford
Located just over an hour northwest of Melbourne, getting to Daylesford is fairly straightforward.
If travelling from the Melbourne CBD, drive over the Westgate Bridge and turn onto the Western Ring Road, taking the left Western Highway exit showing signs to Ballarat. Once you’re on the Western Highway drive for about an hour until you see the Ballan/Daylesford turnoff. Take the left exit and then turn right, following the signs all the way into Daylesford. This should take about 90 minutes.
You can also travel via the Bolte Bridge and the Citylink before taking the exit to the Calder Freeway. Once on the Freeway, take the exit towards the town of Woodend. Following the signs to Daylesford, pass through Woodend and Trentham and on to Daylesford. The Calder Freeway is also the best way to travel from Melbourne airport (Tullamarine).
If you wish to travel to Daylesford by public transport, Melbourne’s excellent V/line services operates a number of train lines within the area and there are also a number of local bus companies that run services between all major towns, stopping at these train stations.
Melbourne to Daylesford and Return
Combined V/Line train and coach service.
Timetable updated weekly – www.ptv.vic.gov.au
How to get around Daylesford
It’s a great idea to have a car in Daylesford so you can explore the neighbouring towns and villages and, time permitting, explore the greater Macedon Ranges area. If you arent from Melbourne pick up a car at Melbourne airport as use it to explore the area.
Public Transport in Daylesford
Buses regularly travel from Daylesford to Hepburn, Hepburn Springs and return.
Route Timetable – www.ptv.vic.gov.au
There are two taxis in Daylesford and one is a mini-van. Book ahead!
Daylesford Taxi Service Jamieson Street, Daylesford 03 53481111
Daylesford Area Taxis & Limousines Vincent Street, Daylesford 03 53483333
Where to stay in Daylesford
We highly recommend a fantastic old house, a mansion really, called The Coach House which is perfect for groups as it sleep up to 11. It is on the edge of the lake so very quiet and very close to the Lake House but it is a bit of walk up the hill to town ( about 20 minutes).
Just outside town is a wonderful Farmstay you can book exclusively called Tara. It is a very stylish and comfortable 4 bedroom home that can sleep up to 12 people and is surrounded by rolling green hills.
Where to eat and drink in Daylesford
Lakehouse is one of the most admired and awarded restaurant in Australia.
Winner of Regional Hotel of the Year and sporting 2 hats for decades, Lakehouse is a must on any visit for lunch, dinner or even just a drink on their gorgeous sunny deck.
For over 30 years diners have come to enjoy the high quality locally sourced food and top-shelf service. Perched on the edge of the lake the restaurant has a Hamptons feel and affords beautiful views across the water. There is also accommodation and a day spa onsite which makes it now of the best all-round options for Daylesford getaways.
Lunch 12 – 2:30
Dinner 6pm-9pm Book well in advance
It’s like stepping back in time in this cosy heritage-listed former general store which has great breakfast, coffee and cakes.
Brisk, friendly service and decent portions made this the perfect place for us after a big night at Bistro Terrior ( and dancing afterwards). Try and snag the table in the window for a nice outlook.
They also sell fresh produce and condiments and have a huge wine selection.
The Farmer’s Arms
Located on the outskirts of town this gentrified pub is packed on weekends and a serves up huge, hearty & quite upmarket meals in their warm bustling dining room or outdoor courtyard.
There’s a big wine list including wines from their own vineyard and 16 Beers and Ciders on tap. Bar & Beer Garden open all day from 12 noon to late 7 days a week. No bookings taken so either get there at opening time or be prepared for a few drinks in the bar while you wait.
Located on Vincent St, The Larder feels like a Melbourne hipster cafe, and with excellent coffee too. The food is delicious – fresh and plentiful.
We had the big breakfast which was BIG and wholesome but they also have some unusual breakfast dishes such as this salmon with cabbage and rosti.
If you’re after a breakfast or lunch, The Larder on Daylesford’s main street is the place to be. Its also an Art Gallery.
open 7.30am – 4pm
Possibly the best Steak Frites I’ve ever had. And that includes in France!
This little bistro is amazing. The food is really excellent, well priced and the owner/chef was very attentive and keen to get our feedback. The General Manager of their biggest competitor in the district was dining at the bar which speaks volumes.
Modern pan-Asian food with Japanese flavours and the finest local produce, serving shareable plates in a casual space, Sakana is owned and operated by a highly regarded Japanese Chef and is one of the regions best options for Asian food.
Situated on the main road into town this is delicate, delicious food as good as any you will get in Japan.
Lunch: Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon
Dinner: Thursday to Monday from 5.30 pm
The Boathouse Restaurant
Located on the banks of Lake Daylesford with beautiful water views
The Boathouse Restaurant is a sophisticated dining venue for lunch and dinner with stylish food and relaxed yet professional service. This is one of the town’s best restaurants and well deserved after many years of hard work. A great alternative to the Lakehouse.
They do not take bookings for lunch but welcome guests on a walk-in basis. Reservations are available for dinner.
Things to do in Daylesford
Walk around Lake Daylesford
In the 1890s the idea of creating a lake close to Daylesford and near the mineral springs was planned several times, but Lake Daylesford wasnt actually built until 1929 and was officially opened in 1930.
Lake Daylesford has become a main attraction for visitors and is much loved and used by locals. It is a haven for birdlife ( especially geese and ducks) and a beautiful spot to enjoy a picnic, lunch or coffee in one of the lakeside cafes or restaurants or just wander around the walking tracks.
There are also several mineral springs to discover along the creek and different walking trails to explore or exercise on.
Indulge in the Natural Springs
There are many mineral springs in the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area, each one a little different as the composition of minerals varies.
The mineral springs water is also famous for its therapeutic benefits, helping to ease pain for arthritis and other ailments.
The Hepburn Bathhouse was originally a timber building with a few baths built in the late 1800s, and is now a modern facility that is perfect for a lazy afternoon of relaxation. It is split into two areas; the historical Bathhouse, which includes a general mineral bath and spa bath experience and the newly built ‘Sanctuary’ which offers a steam room, hammam, spa couches, and an outdoor relaxation area overlooking the adjacent gardens.
Also located in Hepburn Springs is the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.
Hepburn Bathhouse, Hepburn
Cost | Tuesday – Thursday $42, Friday – Monday $52
Monday – Thursday: 9am to 6:30pm
Friday: 9am to 9pm
Saturday: 8am to 9pm
Sunday: 8am to 6.30pm
Head to the Daylesford Markets
Daylesford and the local area has regular markets including a farmers market and the weekly Sunday market.
Whilst the sunday market is more of a flea market than anything there were quite a few characters there!
The Daylesford Sunday Market operates each Sunday from 8.00 am to 3.00 or 4.00pm at Daylesford Station (rain, hail, shine or snow).
A wide variety of stalls selling everything from books to spare parts for the car, fresh local produce, clothing and collectables are located at the market.
The Daylesford Sunday Market is located at 18 Raglan Street (Midland Highway) and plenty of FREE car parking is available.
On the first Saturday of the month Daylesford’s local farmers, producers and vignerons gather on the oval of the Daylesford Primary School to sell their very fresh produce and products.
Check this list of upcoming Festivals, Markets and Shows
Shopping in Daylesford
There is some seriously excellent shopping to be done in Daylesford. Along Vincent Street, you will find a plethora of high-quality shops including ;
Creswick Natural Fibers
Alpaca Passion and
the lots of quirky collectables at Wombat Souvenirs,
There are numerous galleries including one of the main outlets for acclaimed Australian artist, David Bromley which is definitely worth a look.
Visit Daylesford Wineries and produce growers
Many local producers grow and sell organic produce. There will be a sign at their farm gate if they are open for business and often the produce is all on display out the front with a tin for you to leave payment.
A great spot to visit is a little slice of Europe with beautifully cultivated gardens and groves, colourful landscape, and charming stone cottages sprinkled around rustic cobblestone courtyards Lavandula Swiss Lavender Farm which is like something straight out of Europe.
Built in the traditional style of houses in Ticino, Switzerland in the 1850s by Italian-speaking Swiss migrants, the 5-6 acre property functioned as a dairy farm for over four generations.
12 – 11pm, 7 days
lunch from 12 midday-3pm and dinner orders from 5:30pm-9pm
Trentham is a small township nestled at the very top of the Great Dividing Range and only 10 minutes from Daylesford.
The town’s location in between the Macedon Ranges and the Spa Country makes it the perfect to stay or visit. There are some lovely cafes, shops and restaurants in the historic building on the main High Street and they serve up so really delicious local fare. Breakfast at ‘The Bakery’ is to die for!
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