Writer/photographer (& coffee snob), living in Melbourne's inner west. Visit www.insiteimages.com.au for more photos.
Published June 20th 2014
Get out of Melbourne
Daylesford is a popular destination for a Sunday drive from Melbourne or a weekend away and having done both, I can also report Daylesford is the ideal place to go on a rainy June Saturday! With my friend visiting from interstate it was our only chance for a day out of Melbourne. An easy 115 Km drive along the Western Highway (turn off on the Ballan-Daylesford Road), in just over an hour we were driving up Vincent Street in the town's centre.
Leave your brolly in the car to browse Vincent Street's veranda-covered shops, galleries and cafes. We enjoyed a cappuccino at Frangos & Frangos (cnr Central Springs Road), where the breakfasts being served tempted (but we had lunch on the agenda!), admired boutique fashions and got happily lost in Paradise Bookshop's (No. 46) 14 rooms, over two levels, lined floor to ceiling with books/magazines/records of all genres and eras and a great range of cards too. Smoke from wood fires curls out of chimneys, enhancing the country experience. Other highlights of Vincent Street were Red Pepper Gallery (No. 35) for unique local art and Junk Style (No. 67) for vintage clothing and wares. Gourmet Larder (No. 57a) was a good place to stock up on regional cheese and smallgoods, for a nibbles platter later that evening. And there was so much more!
The landmark of Vincent Street is the Italian-inspired black Town Hall clock (built 1867), which strikes 1 o'clock and I explain to my friend the area was settled in the gold-rush era by many immigrants from the Swiss/Italian region, their legacy visible today in the town's architecture and stone dwellings en route to Hepburn's natural mineral springs. You could book in for a spa at Hepburn Bathhouse, or enjoy a nature walk along the springs trail and top up your water bottle from the pump taps along the way.
Daylesford view from the Convent Gallery
But it is lunch time, so we drive a few kilometres north on the Midland Highway, to the Farmers' Arms (1 East St, Daylesford), a gold-rush hotel built in 1857, where on a Saturday lunch time we avoid the Sunday lunch rush! From the extensive, seasonal menu, we chose beautiful, 'falling off the bone' lamb shanks ($27) and a glass of Victorian Pinot Noir - just what these travellers needed, after a solid couple of hours browsing! On a finer day you could dine in the paved courtyard but we were content to sip and eat and watch rain showers through the large windows.
After lunch we drove a couple of blocks uphill to the Convent Gallery, for another serious bout of browsing through its many rooms of art, the chapel, historical nun's quarters and the gift shop and a stroll around the gardens - all good value for a $5.00 entry donation. On our drive back to Melbourne we talked about our wonderful rainy day in Daylesford and I told my friend about all the places we missed seeing… and we agreed they are a good excuse for another visit, rain or shine.
Are the shops open on SUNDAY for those driving up for the Sunday Market & lunch?
We'd love to check out the local Op Shop (& donate too, so I can't buy it back later!) with 15 chums to BUS to Daylesfd this Sunday 29 June 2014.
Hard to find out details - no phone numbers etc.
Agreed - a great place to go for pretty Victorian country side on the way from Melbourne and interesting places to visit when you get there. I also recommend Overwrought for wrought iron garden art and furniture round the corner on Central Springs Road (they provided umbrellas) and the cafe in the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens a little further up Central Springs Road - magical in the misty rain.
Certainly lots to see and do and places to relax. My favourite is Jubilee Lake. Great place to stay in a cabin or camp and I can take my dog and have an open fire! Such a pretty, peaceful and tranquil spot to stay or drop in for picnic or BBQ. The botanical gardens in Daylesford is also a must with a drive around the scenic route and a stop at the wombat cafe for lunch or coffee.