Daylesford is a spot that Dean and I had been meaning to visit for a while now, an inland jaunt that had been quietly calling our names and encouraging a little weekend adventure. In the end it was actually an article I wrote that did it, on the best breakfast spots in Daylesford. One spot, Cliffy’s Emporium, affectionately known as Cliffy’s, boasted the best hash browns that you’ll ever eat, with rustic potatoes and aged cheddar all rolled up into a carbohydrate dream. I’m not ashamed to say that for this alone, we drove over an hour, including the last 30 mins or so in a thick fog, to visit the little town of Daylesford.
Dug into the foothills of the Macedon Ranges, Daylesford is the kind of town that’s fairly easy to miss. The surrounding area has lots to offer, while Daylesford sits often forgotten in the mountain fog. Still, for a day trip that is just 1-2 hours from Melbourne, Daylesford is more than worth the journey.
We arrived in town at the crack of a foggy dawn, with our bellies rumbling and ready for breakfast. We were joined by two friends who were also keen to explore the town and its surrounds, and breakfast (including those hash browns, just as good as advertised) went down a treat. With bellies full of food we decided to stretch our legs a little and take a walk, finding ourselves on the shores of Lake Daylesford. The lake stretched out before us, the edges just shrouded in the clinging morning fog.
I remember once, years ago now, I woke up to a Darwin morning and outside my window there was fog where once the palms had swayed. I rubbed my eyes, looked again. Fog, like an army of ghosts pressing against the walls of my bedroom. Driving to work on my motorcycle (I rode one back then), the cars = materialised out of the whiteness as the road flashed beneath me and everything seemed much too quiet. At the time, the entire thing felt like a funny dream, something half between waking and sleeping that would be forgotten the moment eyes opened. I think that might have been the first time I’d even seen proper fog.
The beauty, to me, of a fog is that it envelopes all your senses. A morning fog, like the one at Daylesford, wraps you up in a cold blanket. It might not be exactly what you want on a winter’s morning, but once you get your legs moving it’s easy to get caught up in what’s nice about that blanket. The smell of morning dew hung on every leaf along the Lake Daylesford shoreline, and waterbirds called to each other, unseen in the mist.
The walk around Lake Daylesford is a paltry wander compared to our usual strolls, around 2.5km or so I think. We don’t even do the entire thing, because soon there’s rain alongside the fog and that’s just a step too cold for all those involved. Of course we see our fill of waterbirds, swans and ducks mostly, and we also snoop on all the lakeside houses, wishing perhaps that was our life as well. The most memorable part of the entire journey is our discovery about halfway around the lake.
A water pump.
See, Daylesford is famed for its mineral springs and over the years the entire area has become a kind of health beacon, home of numerous spas and mineral baths. A sign next to this particular pump informs us that waters are filled with various healthy minerals, and ‘naturally carbonated’. Water bottles are filled, cautiously sniffed and tasted. For 1 our of 4 in our party, the naturally carbonated water is a big hit. For the remaining 3… not so much.
Still, while the mineral waters may not have delivered on their promises of endless health and happiness, Daylesford more than satisfies on other counts. The warm comfort of hash browns at Cliffy’s, paired with the cool misty wandering of the lake’s quiet shores, made for a delightful little adventure.