Victoria: Melbourne & Hepburn Springs
A huge reason I’ve fallen head over heels with Australia is because of a city called Melbourne
. There is a magnificent contrast of architecture that compliment rather than compete with each other and provides a sense of charm that I was hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Some of my favorite activities included: strolling down Lygon Street which is chalk full of Italian cafes, shops and gelateria; checking out the ever so hip Gertrude Street which had a definite San Francisco-vibe; seeing the Fitzroy Gardens and in particular the conservatory; hanging out in Federation Square which has been scorned by many but I think is an excellent example of modern architecture and houses interesting cafes, restaurants, pubs and museums – not the least of which is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Melbourne is surrounded by wine country, which is so easy to visit if you are willing to drive on the other side of the road. I opted to select an overnight in Hepburn Springs, which is next to the quaint town of Daylesford. The drive is easy and picturesque making it a great overnight trip, although I will admit I did not want to leave and would have enjoyed spending more time there. On the positive side, I made the excellent decision to book at the Peppers Springs Retreat which is 1-2 hour drive from Melbourne depending on 1) how fast you drive and 2) how direct your route is to get there. After taking the indirect route to see the countryside, I can tell you that your best bet is to drive directly there (the scenery is beautiful regardless of the route) and the towns prior to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs simply are not worth visting.
If you do book a stay in the country, I would definitely recommend the Peppers Springs Retreat which is less than a 5 minute drive to Daylesford downtown. Request a room in the main building with a private deck that overlooks the countryside. The two owners, Chris and Wayne, are as warm and friendly as the rest of the staff and the trip provided the perfect respite between visits to Melbourne and Sydney (Australia’s two largest cities). If you want to learn more about the retreat, you can read my glowing review on TripAdvisor.com here. Visiting wineries from the hotel is easy to do, but I preferred the pampering of the natural springs spa on sight and eating at the hotel’s restaurant – rarely have I ever been so full in my life. Below I’ve included a sampling of photos from my time in Melbourne, the drive out of the city and the stay in Hepburn Springs.
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