Friday 18 February 2011

Pieces of Daylesford

Since the 19th century, the twin towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, about 90km northwest of Melbourne, have attracted visitors wanting a brief escape from urban life.

The big drawcard, then and now, were the spa waters associated with the famous bathhouse in Hepburn Springs. The towns are also popular for their upmarket accommodation and dining.

For some reason, I hadn't been to Daylesford for six years before I dropped in last month for a few nights' stay. Partly I was there to write food and accommodation reviews for some of my regular outlets; and I was also fitting the last few pieces into my new iPhone/iPad app, Melbourne Getaways.

This travel guide for the smartphone lists over 200 sleeping, dining, shopping and sightseeing attractions outside Melbourne, and I had to include Daylesford's best places in the mix.

What did I find in Daylesford after such a long absence? Here's a small random sample...

1. The lemon verbena crème brûlée at the restaurant I reviewed for The Age, Perfect Drop. Just sensational.

2. This pig was decorating the pavement outside a garden nursery named Secret Garden.

3. Some of the handmade chocolates on sale at Chocorex, a new shopping centre inside the shell of the former Rex cinema.

4. I like a touch of communist retro design, but I didn't expect to find it in well-heeled Hepburn Springs. This is the exterior of the Red Star cafe.

5. Fancy spa! Set into a higher section of the split-level interior of my flash accommodation, Elira. The base is even ridged specifically so you can sit back comfortably and watch the TV in the next room.

6. Sometimes it's worth looking up. Here's the ornate ceiling of the Gourmet Larder cafe.

7. Finally, here's a close-up on the Alice in Wonderland chess pieces in my final accommodation, the fancy cottage called Hudson on Wombat.

(For more details of these and other Daylesford drawcards, download my Melbourne Getaways app)

Disclosure time... on this trip I was hosted by Tourism Victoria.

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