Just an hour outside of Melbourne, this laidback lakeside community is an unexpected find.
For Melbournians who go to Daylesford for the weekends to unwind, the town provides more than just a paean to pampering and relaxation. It’s alive with artists, abundant with artisanal food, and filled with a charm that is quintessentially small town. And that’s what makes them return time and again.
Daylesford is best experienced by car. Drive through its many narrow streets and discover wonderful patisseries and cafes, independent shops filled with regional produce and crafts, Sunday farmers markets selling homemade preserves, artisan cheese and home harvested honey. The town’s passion for all things earthy and natural is infectious.
At the various eateries, the menu almost always uses locally sourced produce or organic ingredients. In the gifts shops, locally grown lavender are turned into scented candles and heavenly soaps.
The people are proud of their heritage and what the land has to offer. This is even more evident at The Convent Daylesford, the town’s celebrated art enclave that has won legions of fans not just from home, but across Australia. A 19th century Victoria mansion, the iconic building with its red dome roof was first a private residence before it became a convent and a boarding school that lasted until the late 1980s. It was rescued from abandonment by local artist Tina Banitska ,who saw something promising in it.
Twenty years later, Banitska has successfully turned the once dilapidated building into a sensorial and cultural enclave. Seven galleries, a retail haven, a cafe and a lounge are now housed in the old convent, offering guests and visitors the chance to admire works from homegrown talents and beyond.
The transcending beauty of Daylesford and its natural setting is an inspiration to those who visit. End your day with a quiet sojourn to Lake Daylesford in the centre of town. With its haunting willow trees casting deep shadows across the waters, this might just call forth some poetic prose for that postcard to home .