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Published April 4th 2017
Why pay for attractions when the free ones are so good?
Daylesford is approximately 1.5 hours from Melbourne's central business district, despite a relatively close proximity to the city, Daylesford manages to give visitors a break from the daily hustle and bustle and stressors that come with day-to-day life, and as such, it is a popular destination for both day trips and short weekend getaways. Daylesford is a spa town that is located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range; it was first established in 1852 as a gold-mining town, but is now known for its natural spring mineral spas and is also fast becoming known as Australia's best Pinot growing region. As one of Australia's few spa towns, Daylesford is a notable tourist destination that is especially great in regards to the large number of free attractions in the area, meaning that a trip out here is easy on the car and the wallet! Compiled in this list are 5 of the best free things to do in Daylesford...
Daylesford - a great day trip escape from the city.
Established in 1863, the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens has over 10 acres of stunning gardens and views of Daylesford that is open from dawn to dusk, every day. With a scenic drive around the edge of a garden, be prepared to bless your eyes with breathtaking views of stunning tall trees and views of the township of Daylesford. Of course, you won't be able to discover all there is to offer until you park the car and go for a relaxing stroll - you'd be surprised at what you might discover. Try and spot the Big Snake if you can - the little ones especially will love it!
With each season, Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens offers visitors new views with different plants in bloom; to really experience the beauty of the gardens, perhaps one visit per season (if not more) would be a great idea. After all, it's free entry all day every day! There are plenty of picnic areas and shade available here, so feel free to bring along your own food for a picnic. Otherwise, there is also a cafe on the premises, Wombat Hill House Cafe. Dogs are welcome to the gardens, provided that they remain on leash at all times - doggy poop bags are provided, so remember to clean up after your dog.
Address: Central Springs Rd, Daylesford VIC 3460 Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk
The Pioneer's Memorial Tower is located in the heart of Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. It was officially opened in 1938 with much fanfare and celebration, and was dedicated to the people that pioneered Daylesford. The Pioneer's Memorial Tower offers stunning views over Daylesford from a much higher vantage point than the botanic gardens itself, although not without some work involved on the visitor's behalf - the route to the top of the tower is via a narrow, winding and relatively dark staircase, with just over 100 steps. Don't let this put you off, however, as the views from the top are well worth the effort!
View of Pioneer's Memorial Tower from the carpark.
Thomas' Lookout on Cornish Hill was built more than 70 years ago; the construction of this original lookout cost only 13 pounds and 10 shillings! Since then, Thomas' Lookout has gone through countless 'incidents', such as extreme weather conditions, human interruption, and of course, normal wear and tear. In 2013, the lookout was given new life as part of funding from the Daylesford Progress Association in an attempt to revive tourism; volunteers from the local Men's Shed worked for three days in order to restore the lookout and paint it in "heritage red". The lookout offers sweeping panoramic views across the township of Daylesford, beautifully nestled amidst a seemingly endless number of trees. It truly is a sight to behold, and is not one that is commonly seen in more urbanised areas.
Lake Daylesford is like a scene from a fairytale, with picture-perfect scenery and ambience to match. Perhaps take a relaxed stroll around the lake (allow up to 1 hour to really take in all that there is on offer), or make use of the free facilities available on site? Fancy a feast using one of the barbecue facilities available? Or perhaps enjoy a cooked meal from Boathouse Daylesford - how good does a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and all day refreshments? Are you a bit of a book lover? If yes, then how about a quick (or not so quick) browse through Bookbarn@Daylesford? They specialise in selling rare and unusual second hand books; who knows, you might just pick up something priceless!
Address: 105 Central Springs Rd, Daylesford VIC 3460
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am-6pm (except Christmas Day)
The Mill Markets is not to be missed when visiting Daylesford, especially if you've got a keen interest for antiques - or perhaps just keen for a good bargain! The markets at Daylesford is one of three of the Amazing Mill Markets in Victoria, with the other two located in Ballarat and Geelong respectively. They lease out space to hundreds of different stallholders in a massive warehouse-esque container; you could literally spend hours in here and still not be able to see every single item available for sale. From homeware to clothes, from books to decorative pieces, from road signs to large sculptures, and much, much, more, Mill Markets will have you covered - it doesn't matter what you're looking for, whether it be a birthday present, an anniversary present, or just something to spoil yourself with; chances are, spend enough time in here and you'll find more than what you bargained for, at great prices to boot!
This list covers just five of the many free attractions in and around the Daylesford area; for information on more free attractions (if you're staying for longer than a day), feel free to pop into the Daylesford Regional Visitor Information Centre on 98 Vincent St in the heart of town. Have a chat with one of the friendly volunteers; grab a brochure or two that interests you; and remember to have only the best time when visiting Daylesford!
These proved very much useful during our day trip in Daylesford.