When you think of Australian spa country, the quaint Victorian towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs may not be the first that come to mind. That’s partly because they remain hidden treasures reserved for weekend getaways and those after luxury and pampering. It’s time to lift the lid and let you in on the secret. Not only is Daylesford the spa capital of Victoria, Daylesford and Hepburn Springs also offer culinary treats, local markets, over 72 natural mineral springs and sensational driving roads.
Located one and a half hours from Melbourne Airport, Daylesford is an easy drive covering both highways and country roads with spectacular scenery. Given the weekend’s theme then, it was only fitting that our group of four would make the trip in one of the world’s most luxurious SUVs, the new Range Rover Autobiography.
Despite measuring 5.2m in length, the largest-ever Land Rover only seats four passengers. The Long Wheel Base version of the Range Rover Autobiography has four individual seats, but adds an additional 200mm of rear legroom compared to the regular Range Rover, along with massage seats, seat heating and cooling, two drinks fridges and reclining seats. Let’s not forget the 29-speaker 1700W Meridian Signature Reference sound system.
With 375kW of power and 625Nm of torque, the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 Brit gets along with absolute ease. The big Range Rover is targeted toward those that like to drive and also like to be driven. It’s also extremely capable off-road, featuring Land Rover’s full suite of four-wheel-drive systems. We set the voice activated satellite navigation for Daylesford and hit the road.
As you roll into Daylesford’s tree-lined main street, countless shops, cafes and hotels begin appearing. The bustling main street is a hive of activity on weekends as holidaymakers and locals meet to explore and visit the local market. Filled with farm fresh food, art, trinkets and trains, the local market runs each Sunday from 8am – 4pm.
The market is located adjacent to the Daylesford Railway Station. Featuring restored trains and a weekly heritage train service, the train station is a step back in time to days when transport wasn’t all about speed and technology.
The best way to experience this part of Victoria is to spend the night. We pointed the Range Rover – priced from $189,700 – toward Hepburn Springs, around five minutes away, and found some great winding roads, natural mineral baths and drinkable mineral springs. It’s also where we decided to stay the night.
Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel is located in Hepburn Springs and features 29 hotel rooms, several two storey villas and Villa Parma, which is a restored four-bedroom home built in 1864. There’s also a luxurious day spa that offers massage facilities and two 37-degree mineral water baths.
As a group of four, we stayed in one of the stunning two storey villas, Villa Lucia. With the kitchen, bathroom, dining and one bedroom downstairs, the upstairs retreat is reserved for the living area, fireplace and the second bed. This luxurious layout easily accommodated four and was perfectly complemented by the warm fire on a cool country Victoria evening.
It was pretty cool during our stay, so we were keen to ensure we had enough fire wood to keep us going. When the rear of the Range Rover isn’t full of personal belongings, it’s a cavernous and practical cargo area for things like shopping, bags or fire wood. Being electric, effort to access either section of the split tailgate is reduced to the push of a button.
Attached to the main Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel is the stunning Argus Dining Room. As the recipient of one Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide 2015, The Argus Dining Room boasts locally grown orchard fruit and vegetables, along with rare beef and lamb reared at the hotel’s farm Vale Hill. The intimate setting, excellent service and amazing food sets this restaurant aside from the others in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.
Across the road from Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel is a path that leads down to the mineral springs where you will find pre-bored pipes that tap into natural springs located around 10m below ground.
These springs each feature unique tastes and contain varying levels of mineral content. Visitors and locals love the springs so much that they line up with empty bottles to take home some liquid gold.
This part of the world is also known for the incredible Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm. The working farm is covered in lavender trees, beautiful gardens and historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s, one of which was inhabited until recently in its original form.
Daylesford and Hepburn Springs make you feel like you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city, despite the fact you are only an hour and a half away.
It’s hard to think of any other places in Victoria so close to Melbourne that offer this level of luxury, eateries and places to see. The same can be said for the giant Range Rover Autobiography; it’s the ultimate road going luxury transport and is built for this type of commuting.
Stay the night — There are a number of properties available in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. A comparison service like DayGet is the best place to go for hotel bookings.
Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm — It’s a brilliant day out with endless activities, sights to see and home made goodies to buy. Make sure you check tour times to walk through the 1800’s home on the property.
Read our full technical review of the giant Range Rover here.