Daylesford is a colourful melting pot of seemingly contrasting cultures. Promoted in tourist brochures as Australia's spa capital, this place certainly isn't short of any recreation services, from mineral spas to massage centres, even lavender farms that promise fresh air and tranquility.
Take a walk along Daylesford's Vincent Street and you will discover that this pretty country town has a strong taste for art. But the town not only hosts the classic and traditional, it also leaves room for the eccentric and original.
A remarkable tidiness surrounds the place. Style seems to be second nature to Daylesford's small population and visitors quickly get dragged into the unhurried and tasteful lifestyle.
Daylesford owes its classiness to a number of Swiss and Italian immigrants who were the first to grow olives and grapes in the area. When mineral springs were discovered, Daylesford quickly turned from a gold mining settlement to a spa town of European appearance.
The European heritage is still clearly visible: the place cherishes a good coffee, there is an abundance of fresh-scented bakeries and cosy restaurants serving organic food.
In recent years an increasing number of gay and lesbian couples have settled in Daylesford, adding to the flourishing of the district and enriching its alternative culture. In fact, Daylesford hosts Australia's second largest gay and lesbian event, the ChillOut Festival, which draws a colourful mix of people into town every March.
Daylesford was established around an extinguished volcano called Wombat Hill, which is now home to the lush Botanical Gardens. Climb up the lookout tower to get a good view of the town.
Bordering the Botanical Gardens is the impressive mansion The Convent, which today hosts a prestigious private art gallery.
A leisurely one hour walk takes you around Lake Daylesford (you can cut it short by crossing the bridge). There are signs leading to Central Springs, where you can taste the healthy – albeit often somewhat metallic-tasting – spring waters of the area.
Don't miss Daylesford's twin town Hepburn Springs, a ten-minute drive up the road. This is home of the famous Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa. Explore the scenic nature of the region at nearby Hanging Rock, underneath the gigantic Trentham Falls or on top of Mount Macedon.