Pressed like a jewel into a ring of forested Victorian hills, Daylesford is a rare and precious place.
All year long, weekend refugees from Melbourne’s fast track flock to its lakeside B&Bs seeking healing for their jaded bodies in its magical mineral spas and healing for their flagging spirits in its ashrams.
The lake water is warm, dark and earthy, smelling and tasting of the iron rich mineral springs that feed it. On the hot days of the summer holiday season, picnickers dot its banks while families splash in the water with ducks and dogs. In the evening it is quiet, only the distant bark of a dog breaks the silence. The passing walker and the occasional watcher, lost in contemplation on a jetty, are the only signs of human habitation. The lake is still. Perfect sunsets reflect in its mirror surface and cockatoos drift home to roost on its tree-bordered banks.
The town centre, with its short strip of wide pavement and verandahed shops, recalls a past time, where life was slower and simpler. The Pastry King cake shop offers all those home-baked products that smack of slow, careful hours in the kitchen. The organic deli is stocked with the yields of a good and pure earth.
On New Year’s Eve the parade brings the whole town out. It has all those features of country parades of yester year; the animals, the horses, the pipe band, the decorated trucks and bikes and the farm vehicles which remind us that Daylesford is, and always will be, no matter how many iterations it passes through, a little country town.