Now that winter is well and truly here, we thought you might fancy a little romantic weekend away somewhere cosy and Natalie Gruzlewski volunteered to head to the lovely Victorian area of Daylesford.
Known for its mineral waters which flow continually from 72 springs, the area is popular for its relaxing spas, acclaimed cuisine, cellar doors and interesting history.
Daylesford was founded on gold diggings in the late 1800s and a mixed heritage settled in the area. The architecture of Swiss-Italian settlers can still be seen.
Lying on the shore of beautiful Lake Daylesford, the family-run Lake House has 33 rooms and suites in 2.5 hectares of manicured gardens, waterfalls and streams. Walking tracks leading to the Wombat State Forest offer easy strolls or challenging hikes. After a hit of tennis, guests may enjoy a massage and a soak in the Salus Spa.
The owners are accustomed to guests arriving exhausted and after a couple of days those same guests reluctantly check-out feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Lodge Rooms and Superior Lodge Rooms are dotted amongst private courtyards, gardens and terraces. They lead off a lounge with billiard table and open fire. Waterfront Rooms have balconies overlooking the lake and have king or twin beds and ensuite with a shower. Waterfront Suites are reached by a bridge crossing a fern gully. They have balconies or terraces and ensuite with a shower and spa bath.
Lake House restaurant uses local and seasonal ingredients. The team of chefs produce virtually everything from freshly baked breads to an extensive charcuterie range. The cellar offers excellent wines to complement their award-winning meals.
Salus Spa captures forest fragrances pine, eucalyptus and rosemary to help take away the stress and aches. Imagine enjoying a hot volcanic rock and warm oil massage, having your skin polished with fine mineral salts and being wrapped in a doona for a face and scalp massage. It's finished off with steam jets and essential oils leaving your skin soft and silky.
Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
A recent $13 million makeover has made the 1895 Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa a truly magnificent day spa facility. Its 30 treatment rooms offer the finest in massage, facials, body treatments and private mineral baths. It also offers a range of indoor heated pools, spas and bathing environments providing the health-giving benefits of natural mineral springs.
The Pavilion Cafe has recently re-opened, complete with new heating and a comforting winter menu. The cafe's 1908 Edwardian heritage-listed building has magnificent stained glass windows, a tiled floor and vaulted ceiling creating the perfect ambience for breakfast or light lunch.
Rowing on Lake Daylesford
The manmade lake has been revamped with a rebuilt overflow area, a bridge running across it and a rowing berth area. At Lukey's Boat Hire behind the boatshed you can rent paddle boats, canoes or row boats.
The Chocolate Mill
Why not spoil yourself a little further. The owners not only wanted to create great chocolate but to do it in environmentally friendly premises so they built a strawbale home and shop. Seventy percent of the materials used were recycled. Since opening the chocolate shop they have added the Hot Chocolate Cafe.
You can watch them work through a viewing window as they turn the finest Belgian chocolate into perfect pieces. They do not mail order and their chocolates are sold only from their shop.
They use local products where possible and source almonds, macadamias, quince paste, yellow box honey, strawberries and raspberries from regional suppliers.
On weekends they make "cups of the day". The milk chocolate cups are filled with fresh fruit puree and cream, have a nut paste on the bottom layer and garnished with a berry. They're too irresistible.
Dietary requirements have been considered and you can purchase lactose-free, alcohol-free, gluten-free, glucose-free, vegan-friendly and diabetic-style chocolates.
Victoria's spa country, 90 minutes from Melbourne
Europcar has two-day car hire starting at $85. If you rent over a weekend you will receive an extra day free. The offer is for a limited time.
Lake House rooms start at $356 a night in a Lodge Room or $520 a night including à la carte dinner and buffet breakfast.
Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa entry is $15 midweek and $30 on weekends. Mineral baths start at $65 for 30 minutes.
Lukey's Boat Hire cost$10 for 20 minutes in a paddleboat, $20 for 30 minutes in an aluminium rowboat and $50 a hour in a timber rowboat. They operate on weekends and public holidays.
The Chocolate Mill has free demonstrations between 11am and 2pm.
Virgin Blue has flights to Melbourne.
One-way fares from:
- Hobart $64
- Adelaide $69
- Canberra $85
- Sydney $89
- Brisbane $139
- Darwin $169
- Perth $209
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at July 23, 2009 and are subject to change.
Prices correct at July 23, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 136 789
4 King Street
Ph: (03) 5348 3329
Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa
Mineral Springs Crescent
Hepburn Springs 3461
Ph: (03) 5321 6000
Lukey's Paddleboat and Canoe Hire
1 Leggat Street
Ph: 0418 358 380
The Chocolate Mill
5451 Midland Highway
Mt Franklin 3461
Ph: (03) 5476 4208
Ph: 1300 131 390