Our guide to the ultimate day trip in Daylesford

Enveloped by crisp mountain air and scenery, Daylesford is just under an hour and a half drive from Melbourne, Victoria and is a top destination for day trips. 

Originally a gold-mining town, Daylesford has earned its notoriety through its abundance of wellness spas and mineral springs. Daylesford is situated in the foothills of the Eastern Highlands in the Shire of Hepburn, with over 80% of Victoria’s mineral springs residing in that area. Chloe Wilson spends a day exploring Daylesford.

Although we can confirm that their mineral springs are incredible, Daylesford has much more to offer than just its booming wellness industry. A multitude of Daylesford’s charming shops, cafes and restaurants are left waiting to be explored. Here is our guide for the best day trip in Daylesford.

10 am

Morning Tea at the Convent Daylesford

This classic Daylesford experience is just a quick uphill hike from the centre of Daylesford. Aside from the infamous mineral springs, The Convent is the most popular spot for tourists to explore. This is for good reasons, the Convent has received many awards, most notably the Australian Tourism Award for Retailing. Previously a convent for the Presentation sisters, the Convent has a rich history stretching back to the 19th Century. Nowadays the Convent functions as an art gallery, with a cafe, bar and gift shop – all surrounded by picturesque gardens. 

The scones at the Convent are not to be missed. Every day, the Bad Habits Cafe bakes two huge trays of scones, often selling out. Although High Tea is available, my Mum and I opted to stick with a regular morning tea, ordering a plate of scones each. Out came the warm scones along with a generous serving of jam and cream. I get these scones every time because they never get old. A perfect blend of sweet and savoury, you can also taste a hint of cinnamon, which makes them unique. 

After you have finished your morning tea, explore the Convent’s gallery and gardens. You can easily spend a day alone in the Convent, roaming around the gardens and browsing through the gallery and gift shop. The gardens stretch for six acres and are beautiful and fragrant, available all year round. The gallery is easy to get lost in. Luckily, as you enter the gallery, you are offered a pamphlet that details a guided tour of the Convent as well as a dive into their history. As the Gallery replaces the paintings frequently, there is always new artwork to marvel at each time you go.

12:30 pm

Browse through the shops

Although the Convent and wellness spas are the most dazzling part of Daylesford, I’d argue that the heart of Daylesford lies within all the unique shops, cafes and restaurants. Make sure you put enough time aside to browse through all these stores. We only had time to go along the main street, but even then, so many hidden gems adorned the streets. Daylesford is littered with vintage shops, however, my favourite was ArtDeco Vintage. Selling all things art deco, from furniture to jewellery, just walking into the store makes you feel as if you’re on the set of the Great Gatsby

Additionally, other fun shops included the Empress & Wolf Crystal shop which sold beautiful jewellery, a vast array of crystals and witchcraft guides. Daylesford is full of galleries, however, my favourite was Bromley & Co, which showcases the work of artist David Bromley. 

We were much too full on our morning tea to stomach lunch and did not even consider it. Still, popular spots were the Hotel Daylesford, the Himalaya Bakery and Cafe, and the Bar Merenda. Beware of wait times on particularly busy days as lunch spots can fill up quickly.

Inside Cliffy’s Emporium – a popular store in Daylesford © Visit Victoria

3:30 pm

Walk along Lake Daylesford

Right in the heart of Daylesford is the picturesque Lake Daylesford. Created in the 1920s, though debate remains on the exact date, Lake Daylesford is man-made.

In the summertime, the lake is popular amongst locals and tourists alike for swimming and paddleboarding. However, in the other seasons, the trail around the lake is most popular for hiking. It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk around the whole lake.

The trail itself is simple and surrounded by the native bush. And all around you wafts the smell of fresh leaves but also sizzling onions – the lake is commonplace to throw a barbecue or picnic. 

For those uninterested in bringing food, the Boathouse Daylesford Restaurant overlooks the water and offers 2-3 course menus beginning at $69 per person. 

The peaceful landscape of Lake Daylesford © Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges

5 pm

A stop in Hepburn Springs

Our final stop in the day was in Hepburn Springs, the neighbouring town to Daylesford and home to the infamous Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa – Hepburn Springs’ only historic bathhouse and the best way to end the day.

With clean, modern architecture, the Bathhouse is surrounded by native bush. After checking in, all customers are required to shower before heading into the pools. All showers were accompanied by shampoo, conditioner and body wash all infused with highlander minerals. After my shower, it was time to swim. 

The cheapest package gets you access to two pools; one large pool heated at 33 degrees, and then a smaller one with spa jets heated at 35 degrees. The room is large, the walls scaled by huge windows that let you gaze into the surrounding bush. Quiet and soothing, wading through the waters allows the stress of the day to slip away. 

For a more relaxing experience, the Sanctuary Mineral package grants you entrance into three more pools, a hammam and an aroma steam room. And, unlike in public pools, the private pools do not allow people under 16.

The 90 minutes flew by, and soon, we had to leave the pools and head off to dinner. In our search for a restaurant that was good but not astonishingly expensive, we stumbled upon a new place, Hepburn Pizza. Within 10 minutes, our pizzas were ready, hot and fresh from the wood-fired oven. We devoured our pizzas, dripping in sauce and cheese with generous servings of our respective toppings.

Unfortunately, the setting sun marked our time to head off and say goodbye to the charming towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. 

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