Located just an hour north-west of the city, the neighbouring towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs has long been one of people’s favourite weekend getaways from Melbourne.
Once a playground for the well-to-do with a thriving arts and wine scene, the town was made famous due to it’s natural mineral springs.
I’ve been fortunate enough to head out to Victoria’s Spa Country a few times in the last year: a girls spa weekend in Daylesford was the first trip that took me there, followed by a solo venture to relax and explore the Macedon Ranges, and finally surprising my Mum with a spa weekend for her birthday just a few weeks ago.
While I’ll talk about Victoria’s Spa Country in more detail in a later post, I wanted to first share a quick list of a few of my favourite places I found to eat, drink, stay and play in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges. Hopefully this and the handy interactive map at the base of this post helps you when you are planning your own journey!
(Hint: come for the hot springs, stay for the food, wine and landscapes!)
Best things to do in Daylesford & the Macedon Ranges
- Cliffy’s Emporium (Daylesford) – you must visit this cute cafe and produce store! Vintage country vibes will make your heart sing.
- Koukla Cafe (Daylesford) – if their brekkie menu doesn’t tempt you already their wood-fired pizzas were certainly a winner in my book.
- Wombat Hill House Cafe (Daylesford) – one of the prettiest spots in Daylesford, their whimsical cafe serves up some of the best food and drink around.
- Blue Bean Love (Daylesford) – fun little vintage-style cafe just down the road from Hepburn Springs. Come for their coffee and generous brunches, stay for the vintage decor and cool tunes.
- Larder (Daylesford) – their delicious to taste and stunningly plated all-day breakfasts are sure to be a winner.
- Frangos and Frangos (Daylesford) – Open all day but best known for their wine and cocktail menu.
- Du Fermier (Trentham) – a weekly changing French-style menu based on garden-to-table eating.
- RedBear Historic Bakery (Trentham) – this place is a multi-award winning bakery cafe known for their organic sourdough that has been woodfired, though I would quite happily eat everything they serve.
- Trading Post (Macedon) – seasonal ingredients from their own garden are served on this delicious menu. Be sure to try one of the pies.
- Top of the Range Tea Rooms (Mt Macedon) – Devonshire tea and snacks served with mountain views. Perfection.
- Source Dining (Kyneton) – a one-hat fine dining experience with menus changing based on the seasons. Try their degustation menu for a truly exquisite dining experience.
- Piper Street Food Co. Picnic Shop (Kyneton) – Seasonal produce and an onsite traditional French-style charcuterie. This area is perfect for a picnic and Piper Street Food Co. creates the perfect picnic basket that are made-to-order, as well as English-style pork pies, and plenty of charcuterie products to eat now or take home for later.
- Major Tom’s (Kyneton) – a rocker from Melbourne moved out to start a cool live menu and American-style burger joint. Come for the burgers, stay for the atmosphere.
- Social Foundry (Kyneton) – 100% not-for-profit set up to skill up young people for both work and life. Serving wholesome food and speciality coffee. A worthy place to support.
- Daylesford Cider Company (Musk) – The perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends or family (yes, it’s kid friendly!) Their delicious ciders are best paired with one of their delicious wood fired pizzas, a serving of live music, and friends.
- Hanging Rock Winery (Macedon Cuvee) – In the shadows of the iconic Hanging Rock, this is the site of Australia’s first traditional method, cool climate sparkling wine. From the cellar door they also sell high quality meat from the cattle raised on the property.
- Hesket Estate (Hesket) – A boutique cool climate vineyard specialising in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewurztraminer-style wines. Only open the first weekend of each month, though if you are staying in the Spud Diggers Hut on-site, the owners may be kind enough to let you taste the wine direct from the barrel!
- Mount Macedon Winery (Woodend) – With panoramic views of the Black Forest Valley, the winery is best known for the Mount Macedon Winery restaurant serving up fresh locally sourced produce from the region.
- Grange Cleveland Winery (Lancefield – do on the way back to CBD) – With the only underground cellar door in the region, you’ll have a unique experience as you taste your way through their range of Shiraz, Chardonnay, and sparkling Pinot Noir. There’s also a restaurant and accommodation on-site.
- Paramoor Winery (Carlsruhe) – one of the most awarded wineries in the region known for several varieties of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Rose, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Shiraz/Cab Sav, Cabernet Sauvignon. I love that their cellar door is in an old stables!
Please drink responsibility and don’t drink and drive.
Taxis do service the area and most businesses will happily call one for you. Plus, there are plenty of wine tours that will happily show you some of the regions best wineries and allow you to enjoy a drink at each!
- Spud Diggers Hut – there aren’t many of these huts left where the potato farmers who worked the land would live. This one has been given some TLC and is the perfect studio for a weekend getaway with a lover. Set on Hesket Estate winery, about a 20 minute drive from Daylesford and 5 minutes to Hanging Rock. Wake up to see the vineyards full of wild kangaroos – don’t worry, they’re more scared of you than you them. || Read my full review!
- Peppers Mineral Spring Hotel – a fantastic location just five minute walk from Hepburn Mineral Springs and opposite Blue Bean Love (a great cafe!). The property is well known for their European-style accommodation, complete with Tuscan inspired gardens, private baths on your balcony and the very stylish Argue Dining Room open to all.
- Hotels Frangos – a chic boutique hotel with all the mod-cons (including free WiFi) in the heart of Daylesford. Be sure to stop by their restaurant for delectable wood oven pizzas (including gourmet breakfast pizzas!) or pamper yourself at the Endota Day Spa on-site.
- Shizuka Ryokan – admittedly I haven’t stayed here yet, but I want to bring my Mum (who loves all things Japanese) here for her birthday treat! This authentic Japanese inn is located 5 minutes from Daylesford and provides dining, spa and wellness packages. It’s the closest you’ll feel to Japan in Australia!
Hotels can be quite costly and I found some of the best
accommodation deals in Daylesford can be found
on airbnb (including the Spud Diggers Hut!).
Use this link to sign-up for airbnb and get up to $75 off your first booking!
Daylesford & Hepburn Springs:
- The Hepburn Bathhouse – The historic bathhouse is a must do in Daylesford. Bath in the mineral rich waters, indulge in a sauna, or have some quiet time in the magnesium salt therapy pool. For the ultimate relaxation, combine with a spa package (the mud treatment is divine!). For the best price book for first thing on a Saturday or Sunday, or come mid-week.
- Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve – a fun leafy walk that allows you to visit different mineral springs and taste different mineral waters. Don’t knock it until you try them!
- Convent Gallery – nestled in the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens, overlooking Daylesford, three levels of fine art is awaiting for your to peruse. The perfect afternoon for a rainy day or relaxing morning.
- Bookbarn – a quaint spot to browse for a second hand book and sip a good coffee along the edge of Lake Daylesford.
- The Mill Markets – dozens of store holders meet to sell a diverse range of wares from vintages clothes and jewellery, furniture, memorabilia, art, glass, books, and more! Well worth a nosy if you are seeking a unique momento of your weekend in Daylesford.
- Hepburn Regional Park – as you explore the sheltered extinct volcanic crater of Mount Franklin, you’ll find natural mineral springs and relics of the gold mining era. Plenty of panoramic views
- Tipperary Walking Track – within Hepburn regional park this is a gorgeous walk past disused relics from the gold rush era, mineral springs you can fill your water bottle from and stands of deciduous trees that blaze with autumn colours. Look out for the Blowhole, a tunnel built to divert water and allow sluicing for gold in the dry creek bed.
- Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm (Shepherds Flat) – just 10 minutes north of Daylesford this iconic property was once farmed by Swiss-Italians who came to Australia in the 1850’s looking for new opportunities. Today the property is filled with European-styled gardens, a garden-to-table cafe, and farm-made lavender products. Best visited when the lavender is in full bloom from early November through January.
- Farm gates and cellar doors – these are located all around Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, just look out for signs!
- Hanging Rock – the historic and iconic Hanging Rock was made famous by the 1975 fictional film ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ where several girls go missing from the location. It’s the perfect place to take a walk, marvel at the former volcanic site and enjoy a relaxing picnic.
- Lerderderg Gorge – this 300 metre deep gorge cuts through the Great Dividing Range. It’s a great place to go bush waking. There’s also gold mining relics scattered along the banks edge.
- Piper Street, Kyneton – a vibrant retail street, this is the place to come to support independent retailers in the area. Be sure to stop by Duck Duck Goose & Larder for locally made produce and Red Cart Vintage for quirky vintage pieces for the home.
- Trentham Falls – the longest single drop waterfall in Victoria, the 32 metre waterfall is particularly impressive in winder when the rain gives it the strongest flow.
- Trentham – it’s the new Kyneton. Which is the new Daylesford, if you’re into new things. Be sure to make a stop at Passing Clouds Winery and The Green Store while exploring this quaint village. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a bag of potatoes. This is spud country after all!
- Memorial Cross, Macedon Regional Park – at the summit of Mount Macedon, the 21 metre high Memorial Cross is considered one of the most significant war memorials in the state. A tribute to al who served in wars and conflicts. I personally didn’t like the views from the cross, though the cross itself is stunning. The views from the walk offer spectacular views though.
- The Gallery Mt Macedon – a group of local artists show and sell their works at the gallery with new exhibitions regularly.
Important note: if you plan on going bush walking, please check with Parks Victoria
to ensure your park is open or any safety precautions you should be aware of.