[daylesford soundtrack. station]
Known as the spa capital of Australia (thanks to the hundreds of naturally occurring mineral springs in the area), Daylesford is only 90mins from Melbourne - making it an easy weekend getaway. A little more touristy now than I once remember, it still retains an element of charm. Most importantly however (aside from its hot springs, the nature, the great local produce, and its art scene), it is home to an incredible vacation rental by the name of St.Etienne. This gorgeous home popped up on my radar only recently, and when its very kind and fun owners - Steve and Lina - invited me to stay, I jumped at the chance. In their words, “we wanted to create a home for us and the tots to enjoy, as well as like-minded travelers who appreciate design”. I saw some pics (their website is a beauty). I was sold.
St. Etienne is a Federation home from 1912 located right in the heart of Daylesford. Perfect for a getaway with a group of friends, or with a small family, this three-bedroom home can happilyaccommodate everyone. Maintaining its period features whilst adopting a minimalist and contemporary style, St. Etienne is surrounded by a native woodland garden, making it a perfectly quiet and peaceful corner of the world.
An easy five minute walk from Lake Daylesford and only 450m from the heart of town (Vincent Street), St. Etienne also includes a few creature comforts should you decide to stay indoors. We fell in love with some of the countless and well-considered personal touches. Some of my favourites - the welcome hamper full of locally made treats; the denim SMEG fridge in the kitchen; the “simplemente puntos” pegboard-looking wallpaper by brisbane-based designers milton and king, and the light, bright plywood vibes in the front bedroom; the personal iPhone chargers beside each of the beds; the Byron Bay Hanging Chair looking out to Wombat Hill from the other front bedroom (with the giant ‘mortadella’ print looking down over the bed, by south australian artist billie justice thomson); the ridiculously awesome kaare klint safari chair and freestanding tub in the bright and airy bathroom; and all the perfectly curated mags and books in the living area. Its cosy and perfect. Seriously perfect.
It would be easy to bunker down in the house all weekend (we pretty much did - only leaving for a coffee run each morning, or to stock up on produce for the kitchen). We did find a few cute things in town though, if you feel like popping out for a moment or two.
To eat and drink
It literally takes 5mins to walk up to the main street of Daylesford - Vincent Street - where you will find some good coffee. We chose Larder as our go-to.
Daylesford Health Food + Organics became another go-to. A cute little organic food store that also does healthy sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Perfect for something quick and easy to grab on the go.
The tea and scones at the little cafe within the Convent Gallery are definitely worth hunting down (check out the art there too, and the lovely tranquil surrounds).
Wine and Country (as recommended to us by our Castlemaine insider, Tim Sproal) is a really cute little boutique wine shop, showcasing some of the best low-intervention produces both locally and afar. You can buy bottles of awesome local wines and beers to take home, or you can choose to sit and have a glass of wine and a cheese board while you wait.
The Farmers Arms for dinner - a local favourite - and a favourite of ours, as well. We like to sita thte bar (more atmosphere than the dining room), chat to the barman, order a glass of wine, and then a big medium/rare eye-fillet steak. Perfect on a cold wintry night.
Mercato (a Daylesford institution) if you’re in the mood for some fine-dining, or The Argus Dining Room in nearby Hepburn Springs as well.
To do.has recently styled the boathouse cafe and worth a look during a morning walk to the lake. It's 450 m away if you walk down to the start of West st and follow the track down.
Farmers Market: if you happen to be in town on the first Saturday of the moneth, this is a really cute little local farmers market (held between 8am-1pm).
Head up to the Botanical Gardens (which are equally beautiful in summer or winter), and stop by the Wombat Hill Cafe up there too - warm and friendly.
If you are a fan of Australian artist David Bromley, check out his retail design store. Bromley recently styled the Boathouse cafe, so its worth having a peek there too, while doing your morning walk around the lake.
Visit the Convent Gallery for some lovely art in tranquil surrounds. Be sure to try their tea and scones as well, they are to die for!
For your afternoon walk, head down Central Springs Road to The Mills Market for some vintage treasures (only 450m from St.Etienne).
If you like cider, head out to the Daylesford Cider Company (who specialize in traditional craft cider using English heritage-listed apple varietiess grown organically out there on their farm) for a pot of cider in the sun (they do food as well).
For some pampering, pay a visit tothe Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa for a traditional communal bath, or spa treatment. We love their hydrating facial.
Lavendula is a pretty place for a wander, surrounded by olive trees and lavender fields, and a great little petanque field.
Look out some of the nearby local providores nearby: Holy Goat Cheese at the Sutton Grange Organic Farm, and Istra Smallgoods for cured meats (in Musk) for example.
And visit some of the region’s cellar doors: Curly Flat in Lancefield; Captains Creek Organic Wines in Blampied; Passing Clouds Winery in Musk; Ellender Estate Winery in Glenlyon.
Day trip to Kyneton, Trentham and Castlemaine (*see our separate guides for each - Kyenton now live, Trentham and Castlemaine coming soon).
St. Etienne (obviously).
Or, Lynda Gardner’s most fabulous White House. We are so inspired by this woman (one of our Melbourne insiders). Everything this very clever cookie touches, turns to gold.