Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges
The region around Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges is Australia's spa country. While the area is well-known for its mineral springs and world-class recreation services, you might be surprised to find its strong focus on arts and culture, its abundance of fresh organic produce and its sparkling alternative culture.
Seventy-two springs – all openly accessible through pumps – abound in the area. In addition you will find more than thirty spas, wellness retreats and healing centres. Only 1½ hours from Melbourne city, life moves significantly slower in the hilly landscape. The region has a very tidy and prosperous feel to it and a strong tendency to draw anyone into its unhurried lifestyle.
A number of Swiss and Italian settlers once made this place their home and cultivated their European heritage. Thanks to them, today you don't have to look far to find a good coffee, freshly baked sourdough bread or some home-made pasta topped with organic olives and fresh parmesan cheese.
The area is also ideal for growing grapes and is particularly known for its Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and the 'Macedon Sparkling'. All up, there are over fifty wineries, most of them with cellar doors. Joining a winery tour is a popular activity in the area.
In the epicentre of the region are the twin towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. Take a stroll around Vincent Street in Daylesford and you will discover just how deep-rooted the arts are in this place. Creative home deco and artefacts are displayed in the numerous galleries that are nestled in-between cosy coffee shops and authentic restaurants. Hepburn Springs is home to the historic Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, which has been welcoming visitors to its healthy spring waters since 1895.
Once the summer retreat for Melbourne's elite, Mount Macedon has maintained the charms of Little England with small cottages and meticulously maintained gardens and parklands. On the summit, overlooking the entire ranges and – on a clear day – a great part of the Port Phillip Bay, is the impressive Memorial Cross.
Just north of Mount Macedon is the showplace of Australia's classic novel and film 'Hanging Rock'. Despite its chilling role in the story, the landscape of Hanging Rock is a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and the stunning views across the land.
The small village of Trentham, surrounded by the Wombat State Forest, has resisted fast-paced modernisations and maintained its old-world charm. Trentham is also home to Victoria's highest single-drop waterfall, the 32 meter- long Trentham Falls that are said to have formed five million years ago.
Just south of Trentham lies the hilltop village of Blackwood, the gateway to the breathtaking Lerderderg Gorge. This 300 metre-deep gorge of sandstone and slate has been in the making for 500 million years.
Image Courtesy: Getty Images/Tourism Victoria