Daylesford Delights

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
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Trip End Jun 14, 2010


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Where I stayed
Central Springs Inn

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Having just started a new job I'm not going to have holidays for a while
so we thought we had better make the most of the June long weekend. We
decided to check out Daylesford, an area in Victoria not far from
Melbourne that is renowned for it's relaxed atmosphere, good food and
wine and lovely state parks.

We flew down to Melbourne Airport
on the Saturday morning, picked up our hire car and set off for the
hills. We were literally only a few minutes up the road when we spotted
the first winery and thought "why not?" We bought a bottle for later and
continued to Sunbury, birthplace of "The Ashes" cricket tournament
between England and Australia. We had a quick look in the old gaol which
had been restored, got some local information from the visitors' centre
and visited the main street where we got some fruit and snacks for the
trip.

Next stop was the tiny but cute town of Macedon, where we
relaxed over lunch in a gourmet deli. Driving up into the ranges, we
passed lots of lovely, stately homes, a spillover from the time when it
was apparently a drawcard for the rich and famous.

We arrived at
Mt Macedon Regional Park and took a path up to Major Mitchell's lookout.
It was pretty cold up there and the fog and sunshine filtering through
the trees gave the place a spooky quality. We walked to the big Memorial
Cross at the summit, from which we could just see all the way back to
Melbourne.

Driving back down the mountain, we stopped at
McGregor's Picnic Area (of course) and did a short hike to the top of
Camel's Hump Lookout. It was a great view of the landscape to the north,
including Hanging Rock, where we were headed.

After about
another half hour's drive we arrived at Hanging Rock, a towering
conglomeration of volcanic rocks which featured in a famous Australian
book and subsequent movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, about a group of
schoolgirls who go exploring the rock and disappear. The movie, one of
Peter Weir's early projects, was made in 1972 so there's lots of eerie
music and shots of the rock looming overhead as they climb.

In
reality, the rock didn't seem that high at all - it only took us about
20 minutes to reach the top. There were lots of rock crevices and hidey
spots along the way though so I can see why the author was inspired to
write the novel she did. I couldn't resist calling out "Miranda" from
the top - a reference to the film. From the top it was a good view of
the surrounding area.

Back down at the bottom we had a quick look
in the museum and read about the formation of the rock. As we returned
to our car a group of kangaroos intently checked us out from beyond a
nearby fence.

The next town was Woodend, which we really didn't
do justice. We took a quick loop of the main street and decided against
going to the brewhouse, as we still had to drive to Daylesford and the
light was disappearing quickly.  I'm not really a fan of driving on
unfamiliar country roads in the dark so I was relieved when we made it
to Daylesford unscathed and with no wildlife casualties.

We
stayed at an inn in the centre of town so it was convenient to head out
for dinner on foot and peruse the restaurants in the main street.
Daylesford and the surrounding region is renowned for its fine food,
alas given the busy few weeks we'd had, we hadn't had time to really
research the restaurants so several of them were booked out. It was
freezing so we didn't want to traipse around and ended up going to a
wood-fired pizza place recommended by a friend. It was really good but
really crammed - we were basically wedged on a long table in between
other couples. Not quite the intimate dinner we had envisaged but at
least our neighbours were friendly.

The next day we drove out of
town back the way we had come to Trentham Falls, a nice reserve with the
longest single drop waterfall in Victoria. It was a beautiful setting.

Then
we continued to nearby Trentham Village and visited the information
centre housed in a historic railway building, complete with old train
carriages out the front. We walked up the main street of town, stuck our
heads in the famous Red Beard Bakery for some goodies for morning tea,
and checked out a weird and wonderful shop that featured hideous but
fascinating statues of animals to put in your garden or hallway. Most of
them were quite big and garish but they gave us a laugh.

We
drove northeast to Kyneton, known as one of the gems of the area. The
main street was nice enough with old buildings and an interesting
antique shop, but we didn't really see what the fuss was about until we
walked down one of the side streets where all the historic bluestone
buildings, cafes and shops were. We were happy to just stroll up and
down the street, browsing in the windows and taking in the sunshine. We
found a little shop that sold home-made sauces, jams and relishes so we
spent a bit of time in there getting inspiration for our culinary
repertoire. We debated about going to one of the cafes for lunch, but it
was a little early and we had wanted to do a ploughman's lunch at one
of the nearby wineries so we decided to stick with that plan.

Back
in the car, we headed through Malmsbury but really didn't stop for a
good look. It seemed like a pleasant town but not much to it. As we were
leaving we spotted a lovely looking restaurant by the river, however by
this time we had already rung ahead to the winery and arranged lunch.
At Zig Zag winery we wine-tasted with a few other groups and enjoyed
talking to the winemaker, who was an ex-school teacher, before choosing
some wine to have with lunch and enjoying our platter at a sunny table.

Next
we visited Big Shed Winery, which had won some local awards. The
winemaker was Scottish and a real character, although he started to get a
bit obnoxious when the group of people tasting got bigger and in the
end and Nath found it difficult to get his attention to taste the last
couple of wines. I had stopped tasting because I was driving.

After
that we'd had enough so we headed back to Daylesford, completing the
loop drive. We decided to go to a pub for dinner that was renowned for
its food - the only problem was that all the other visitors in town
seemed to know about it too so we waited ages for a table. It was lucky
we got there when we did as many more disappointed diners came in after
us.

The next day we went for breakfast at a Belgian beer cafe
that my friend had recommended. No, we didn't have beer with breakfast,
but enjoyed looking at all the labels, glasses and beer paraphernalia
while we ate our scrumptious meals.

Afterwards we headed up to
The Convent, now an art gallery and cafe, for a look around its lovely
gardens and inside at the artwork. Then we went down to Lake Daylesford,
a prominent feature of the town which has walking trails around the
shore. We went for a walk around part of it but it was quite chilly and I
had unfortunately succumbed to a cold so wasn't feeling the best. We
decided to head to Hepburn Springs and visit the Bathhouse, built near
mineral springs. The water is supposed to be therapeutic - I'm not sure
if it really works but it was nice to have a swim around in the warm
pool and spa and relax.

Our entry ticket included devonshire tea
so we enjoyed that in the rotunda afterwards and made that our late
lunch. We drove through town and out to Lavandula lavender farm, where
we had a look in the old farmhouse buildings. The weather was still
fresh but sunny so we had a wander around the gardens and watched some
beautiful crimson rosellas in the trees.

From there we turned
south east and took some minor gravel roads through the beautiful,
eucalyptus-filled Wombat State Forest. We thought we were a bit lost for
a little while but eventually worked out where we were. We emerged near
Trentham and took the road south to Blackwood, another quaint town and
the last stop on our itinerary.

As we headed towards the airport
my phone came to life and I was dismayed to find a message about flights
being cancelled from Melbourne airport. Luckily by the time we flew out
Virgin had made the decision to resume flights after the volcanic
ashcloud from the Chilean volcano had lifted so we got home as planned.
it It wouldn't have looked good to need a day off after only working at
my new job for a week!
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