Whether you’re heading to Melbourne when this lockdown is over or you’re simply looking to get out of the city, a day trip or weekend getaway to Daylesford in country Victoria should be top of your list! About 108km north-west of Melbourne, this little country town is nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and boasts picturesque landscapes, quaint small-town charm and plenty of things to see and do. Here is a guide to Daylesford, from the main attractions to where to stay, shop and eat.
On my last visit to Melbourne in February, my bestie Lei Lei took to me on a day trip to Daylesford, which I fell in love with. We specifically drove through the tiny town of Trentham (which has a population of 1,200) as we had heard great things about the Trentham General and it did not disappoint.
The former bank was converted into a café and homewares store by co-owner and stylist Lynda Gardener. The large country farmhouse style interior is filled with vintage treasures that Gardener has collected over the years and cosy dining rooms for guests to enjoy and linger in. As we were on a short time frame we grabbed a takeaway coffee browsed through the eclectic store, did a walk of the main strip and we were back on our way. I would highly recommend stopping by in Trentham on your way to Daylesford.
It’s like stepping back in time and slowing down when you arrive in Daylesford, with its beautiful historic buildings lining the main strip, the quaint and character filled interiors and small town hospitality, to the lush landscapes and nature filled activities that resource the soul. For a small country town, Daylesford certainly has a lot to offer everyone from the style-conscious shopper, those on a culinary quest, the vintage hunter or those trying to relax and reconnect with nature.
Sault Restaurant – This fine dining restaurant sits on a spectacular 125-acre estate with the Wombat State Forest as a backdrop and picturesque views over its own lake and lavender fields. With a range of tasting menus on offer, this is the perfect spot to indulge, celebrate a special occasion or simply treat yourself. Make sure you take a walk around the beautiful grounds including the lavender and sunflower fields and the cottage near the lake.
Larder – The perfect spot for breaky or lunch, this trendy café is a local favourite. Featuring great coffee and using locally sourced products, their menu features classics but with a sophisticated twist plus they have a great selection of wine. Prepare to settle in and leave with some traditional country style homewares.
Cliffy’s – An institution and easily the cutest café in town, the former general store – now emporium, is still the heart and soul of Daylesford. Local produce and speciality products from near and far line the old timber shelves while the rustic and eclectic interior and tasty menu make this such a welcoming and warm establishment. A true example of country hospitality and charm, this is not one to miss!
Sweet Decadence – If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, Sweet Decadence is the place to go! It was the first coffee shop in Daylesford and today continues to serve fine brews and artisanal chocolate, handmade on site. It’s the perfect spot to sit back, relax and indulge.
Poets Lodge – Located in the heart of Daylesford, this original1852 Colonial home was converted into a guest house in the 1920s. Featuring three separate light-filled cottages, which each seamlessly blend heritage and modern living, whether it’s curling up to the fireplace enjoying a glass of vino, soaking in the clawfoot bath or reading a book on the front porch, Poets Lodge is the perfect luxury country stay, which you will find very hard to leave.
The White House – If you’re looking for boutique accommodation in Daylesford, put The White House on the top of your list – prepare to switch off, relax and linger as you step back in time. This former miner’s cottage from the 1850s has been transformed into a cosy and character-filled abode with vintage collectables by interior stylist Lynda Gardener (she also owns the Trentham General, as featured above). Featuring two bedrooms inside the main house and a separate bedroom in the garden, this is the idyllic retreat to enjoy the tranquillity and charm of Daylesford.
Lake House – Lying on the shores of Lake Daylesford and set on six acres of country gardens, the Lake House is a luxury hotel, spa and a multi award-winning fine dining restaurant which has put Daylesford on the map. With contemporary country interiors, the Wombat State Forest and tranquil lake right at your doorstep, this is the ultimate luxurious getaway.
Hotel Fangos – A boutique hotel in the midst of town on iconic Vincent Street, Hotel Fangos features fifteen individually styled rooms designed and decorated by Australian artist David Bromley. You can dine on site and if you want unwind and relax after a long day of wandering and exploring, they even have an Endota Spa.
Manteau Noir – This exquisite and carefully curated concept store created by fashion designer Victoria Varrasso, brings together artisanal wares, heritage brands, a selection of antiques and vintage collectables as well as her Melbourne made linen womenswear label. With its moody ink blue hue interior, dark wood cabinets and injection of antiques, this truly is a treasure trove of beautiful things collected from near and far.
Harry and Me – Located in the heart of Daylesford on Vincent street, Harry and Me offers a collection of curated products from established and up-and-coming labels from around the world. Camilla & Marc, Lee Mathews, I love Mr Mittens and Ba&sh sit alongside niche luxury brands Nasomatto and Eight & Bob to name a few, so whether you’re looking for a beautifully handcrafted knit, an elegant silk blouse, an exquisite perfume or Savon de Marseilles, you’ll find it here.
Artedeco – A very iconic antique store that specialises in Art Deco, Art Nouveau and 20th Century furniture, lighting, jewellery and decorative objects. They have a beautiful and carefully curated collection of items, which have featured in various period movie sets including the Great Gatsby. I left with a fabulous pair of West German plastic earrings in their original packaging.
The Donkey’s Tale – A beautiful toyshop which specialises in quality educational and sustainable toys, books, games and puzzles for little ones. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift for the tiny humans in your life.
The Mill Markets – The Mill Markets Daylesford, is one of three locations in country Victoria, which is set in a large warehouse. Spaces are leased to individual stallholders, which allows for an eclectic and varied offering of vintage and antiques at great prices. From clothing, furniture, homewares and everything in-between this truly is a picker’s dream but can be quite overwhelming. So, if you’re a serious buyer, I would suggest picking up a takeaway coffee from their café and giving yourself an hour or two to thoroughly rummage through all the various stalls.
SEE & DO
The Convent – Nestled on the crest of Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens and overlooking Daylesford, The Convent a 19th-century mansion with a rich history, boasts a three-level gallery featuring national and international artists, a café, a bar, accommodation and beautiful gardens. Slightly eerie yet beautiful, take a walk through the gardens and admire the view of the countryside and township below.
Lake Daylesford – Sit back and relax at the banks of Lake Daylesford with a picnic while you soak up the stunning vistas and birdlife, or take a scenic stroll around the ‘Peace Mile Walking Track’ it will take you approximately take 40 minutes to wander around the entire lake.
Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens – Perched at the summit of an extinct volcano, the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens are regarded as one of Victoria’s finest regional destination gardens and the perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. Make sure to climb the Pioneers Lookout Tower to see spectacular panoramic views of Daylesford.
Hepburn Springs Bath House – The ultimate in relaxation, Hepburn Springs’ only historic Bathhouse has been providing traditional wellness bathing since 1895. This century-old phenomenon draws mineral-rich waters directly from the natural source for luxurious healing wellness experiences.
I hope you have enjoyed this Daylesford travel guide and that it has inspired you to visit the gorgeous country town or others once the lockdown is over. More than ever before do small independent businesses particularly those in small country towns who rely on tourism need our support Xx Nadine
Photos of Cliffy’s, Poets Lodge, The White House and Manteau Noire are courtesy of the relevant businesses.