Australia: Town puts a spring in the step

By James Shrimpton

Daylesford may be more than 100km from the sea but water is its life blood. The town of 3500 in Victoria's Macedon Ranges is known as Australia's spa centre.

There's no excuse for tourists not leaving Daylesford in better shape than they arrived. It has the largest area of naturally occurring mineral springs anywhere in the country, and 80 per cent of the known and active mineral water outlets.

And it claims the greatest concentration in Australia of natural therapists, masseurs, holistic health and beauty treatment centres.

"Whether you're a local or a visitor, rejuvenating mind, body and soul is simply part of life," exults Tourism Victoria.

"Colours will seem suddenly brighter, people friendlier and your lunch will taste even more delicious."

After the gold rush days petered out late in the 19th century, European migrants developed the mineral springs around Daylesford and Hepburn Springs just to the north. Hepburn Springs dates back to 1895.

Now, places where tourists flock to "take the waters" include Peppers Springs Retreat, the Hepburn Springs Bath-house, the Daylesford Day Spa, the Shizuka Ryokan (a traditional Japanese bath-house), Salus Spa and the Springs Retreat Spa.

The benefits: "bicarbonate balances the pH in your bloodstream, calcium and silica are good for your bones, magnesium helps to keep your kidneys healthy, potassium is good for your mind and muscles, sodium helps prevent stomach disorders and sulphate purifies your liver".

Daylesford has a Spa and Therapies Group. They offer more than 200 therapies and treatments - pilates, yoga, tai chi, reiki, naturopathy, chiropractics, osteopathy ...

"Any health and wellness therapy you can think of, it's here," says one member, alternative therapist David Reilly. "Even our local doctors offer remedial massage as part of their regular service."

But there's a lot more than health treatments in Daylesford, described in the British Airways magazine as "the funkiest town in the world".

In town and around the Macedon Ranges area are a range of gourmet restaurants and boutiques, plus more than 40 wineries.

Annual festivals include the Lavender Harvest Picnic at Shepherds Flat, the Daylesford Macedon Produce Day, the Glenlyon Fine Food and Wine Fayre, the Swiss Italian Fiesta and ChillOut, described as Australia's largest gay and lesbian festival.

Spring and autumn see flowers burst into colour at gardens including Wombat Park and Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens in Daylesford, Duniera and Alton on Mt Macedon.

Tourists trek to Trentham Falls, through the Larders State Park, Wombat State Forest and to Mt Franklin.

Accommodation includes hotels, B&Bs, apartments, guesthouses and cottages.

Daylesford is about 110km northwest of Melbourne.

- AAP

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