Daylesford, VIC

DEAN ALLEN-CRAIG — 14 April 2013

Lie back and let the hot natural spring water soothe your achingmuscles… Sounds good, doesn't it? It's time to heed the call of thespa capital of Australia - Hepburn Saprings, in centralVictoria.

Less than two hours' drive from Melbourne, theHepburn-Daylesford area is a hugely popular spot for day trippersand for weekend getaways. There are several good campgrounds andplenty of B&B style accommodation, so staying a few extra daysis no problem.

The Hepburn region - blessed with Australia's highestconcentration of natural mineral springs - has lured holidaymakersfor more than 100 years. Artefacts donated by expats who've settledin Hepburn region flank
the walls of the Red Star Cafe, epitomising the town's charm.

The main feature of the spa town is the Hepburn Bathhouse andSpa. The old brick bathhouse precinct dates back to 1895 and sitsbeautifully alongside stylish modern facilities, and although it isnow a few years old, the $13m renovation is quite outstanding. Youcan swim in the larger hot relaxation pool, spa pool or book aprivate spa. You'll be rather peckish after all that floatingaround and the old original bathhouse pavilion has now beenconverted into a sophisticated cafe, with many of its originalfeatures retained. Its high vaulted timber ceilings create a coolretreat in summer and the owners stoke up the open fires in thecooler months, so you really can't lose.

The Bathhouse precinct is surrounded by lush parkland thatincludes walking paths, quaint bridges, barbecue facilities andplaygrounds. Hand pumps throughout the parklands let you siphonmineral water from the ground, although I must warn you it's not toeveryone's taste (battery acid comes to mind - Ed).

Natural mineral water is said to have many health-givingproperties and advocates claim that bathing in the warm pools willrelieve you of all manner of ailments. Whether those benefits arereal or perceived is neither here nor there - it's a lovely way tospend a few hours and it's guaranteed to heal the soul.

 

ACTION PLAN

Once you've soaked yourself till you resemble a dried apricot,you could try tackling parts of the 16km Tipperary Track either byfoot, mountain bike or car. It explores surrounding naturalfeatures such as the Hepburn pool, the Blowhole and Mt Franklin.The curious campground at Mt Franklin, 9km north of Daylesford, issituated inside an extinct volcano's crater. It enjoys good windprotection and there are a number of well established treesproviding plenty of shade, and with good grass ground cover it's avery pleasant spot to pull up with the camper trailer for thenight.

The local communities have gone to a huge effort to preserve theregion's distinctive architecture. Daylesford in particular has awonderful collection of period buildings on the main streets,beautiful country cottages and stately homesteads. The DaylesfordLake just on the edge of town is also a very peaceful spot to spenda few hours, just feeding the ducks or having a cuppa at theBoathouse cafe.

So pack your togs and get set for a trip to Spa Country.

Tags

Daylesford hepburn springs victoria

Photographer

DEAN ALLEN-CRAIG