Give your next road trip a boost by taking in the fascinating history, gourmet cuisine, local wines and healing mineral waters of Hepburn Springs and surrounds.
Bid Melbourne farewell and travel along the Western Highway until you reach Creswick and Clunes, idyllic villages that sit in the heart of Victoria's gold rush country. These villages offer the chance to step back in time, while still enjoying fine food and a contemporary twist.
In Creswick you'll find Australia's last coloured woollen spinning mill – Creswick Woollen Mills – established in 1947 and home to very cute and mischievous alpacas. A stroll down the main street of the elegant village reveals a number of historic buildings, including the former State Savings Bank, post office, library and Havilah Masonic Lodge.
It's worth taking the Buried Rivers of Gold Heritage Trail to try your luck at striking it rich. Extend your visit to play golf on the course where the Victorian PGA is held, or even take a trail ride through the local forest.
Walking down the main street of Clunes, with its preserved and restored grand heritage buildings, gives you a sense of life in the heady gold rush days of the 1850s.
In its prime, Clunes was the fifth largest town in the colony. These days, it is best known for the annual Booktown Festival, which brings together thousands of local and international booksellers, writers and speakers each May. Time your road trip for a weekend of book browsing, book talks, author talks, and like-minded literature enthusiasts.
Continue to Smeaton after you've built up an appetite and a thirst for regional wines. The landscape around the tiny town is dotted with wineries with welcoming cellar doors, farm-gates selling their produce, as well as boutique country properties just inviting you to settle in.
Once you've left Smeaton you're not far from Daylesford, which buzzes with an array of interesting boutiques, specialty food outlets, galleries, and renowned mineral springs, spa centres and wellbeing retreats.
Be sure to take a walk around the natural springs in nearby Sailors Falls Reserve to fill a bottle with some of the famed local mineral spring water.
With so much to see and do on your route, you might just need to stay another night or two.
Once home to the artistic Lindsay family, most notably Norman, author of The Magic Pudding, Creswick keeps the Lindsay's heritage alive in museums, parks, gardens and buildings throughout the town.
Head to Clunes in May for the Booktown Festival, the talk of the literary community, but be sure to organise a return visit to take in the town's many other attractions. Browse antique and collectable stores, tour nearby wineries, join a gold prospecting adventure tour, or take a walk through Mount Beckworth Nature Reserve.
The proud home of Tuki Retreat, a private trout retreat set in idyllic grounds that could have been lifted from the Scottish hills, Smeaton is the place to snare your own trout to feast on.
Travel just seven minutes from Daylesford to Sailors Falls Estate, a boutique winery with luxury accommodation.
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