Leaf gazing in Daylesford

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It took me awhile to reconcile myself to winter. For many years autumn for me represented the longest time possible since it was summer again and was basically the blip between good times and cold chattery nights.

Well ageing isn’t always a bad thing and as I’ve ripened along the way I’ve picked up an appreciation of winter – it’s actually now my third favourite season. And one of the best places to enjoy the crisp mornings and clear days is Daylesford.

Yes, you’ll be joining half of Melbourne there on many weekends, but scratch the surface beyond the antiques shops and mineral water and there’s a surprising amount of things to keep you occupied over a weekend. And chestnuts are still falling off the trees.

One thing I really like (aside from visiting old milk bars) is doing stuff that reminds me of when I was a kid. A country footy game or speedway meet at the Daylesford Oval both held at the Daylesford  Bulldogs) is a nice way to get a slice of unfiltered Australiana.

If you want to keep the retro theme going the Mill Markets will cover you for everything from old petrol signs to vintage clothing and art deco furniture.

Yes the mineral water might be free but there’s harder stuff to dip your beak into. Try to mix and match your local drops at The Farmer’s Arms, one of the oldest pubs in town with requisite roaring fireplace.

There’s pretty much everything on tap you’d expect at Daylesford, from cheese and bacon pies at the local bakery all the way up to the two hatted Lakehouse. If you feel like splashing out for something fancy Sault is my bet. Set on vineyard the restaurant is being helmed by Spanish chef  Santiago Nine-Fernandez. The barramundi I had there was probably the best dish I’ve had this year. No kidding. They’re doing truffle lunches in July.

For something simpler try a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts at the Daylesford Sunday Market.

Daylesford cover the gamut when it comes to accommodation, from Backpacker’s and B&B’s to boutique hotels. If you really want to spoil yourself (or someone special) consider Topham House. An architecturally designed, self-contained villa. It comes with not one but TWO roaring fireplaces. And one is in the bathroom opposite the clawfoot bath. Yup.

After all that eating a walk is in order. Burn off last night’s bottle of red with a brisk walk around Daylesford Lake, or amble through the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. Start the indulgence over again with morning tea at The Convent.

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