Spa Country: Healing in Hepburn Springs
Drive just an hour and half north west of Sydney and you’d still be in the suburbs. Travel that distance from Melbourne and you’ve left the rat race behind.
Sydney and Melbourne are hugely popular with Expedia’s Aussie Travellers for short city breaks. But sometimes it’s good to see more than a city.
Hepburn Springs is a pocket of paradise for city slickers craving a dose of the country life. It’s a medicine we all need every once and a while and in Hepburn Springs, you might actually find just what the doctor ordered.
As the name suggests, Hepburn Springs is home to several thermal springs, and like Bath in England, was once a popular spot for “taking the waters”.
On a gentle walk into the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve, just beyond the Hepburn Bath House & Spa, water bubbles up from the earth in a series natural springs, enriched by high levels of natural minerals.
Stop by the taps stationed along the springs and hand pump out a stream of spring water – each tap’s source is different and the water’s slightly carbonated metallic-tang changes a little each time, our favourite is at Soda Spring, where the water tastes just like tonic water.
The streams flow back past the Bathhouse, where you’ve got a chance to really try out the local water. Drawing on the natural springs since 1895, the Bathhouse has long been a stop on the tourist trail.
A big communal pool sits in the gully, with glass walls looking straight out at the bush land so you can look down at the stream while you’re soaking.
The Bathhouse offers plenty of spa treatments using local products but you’ll still get the benefits of the water with just a soak – heated to 32 degrees Celsius, the water’s high mineral content is said to increase circulation, relieve joint pain and just feels really, really good.
Once you’ve soaked out the stress of city life, walk just up the road to the Hepburn at Hepburn. The twelve black villas look like demountables lined up on the hillside but inside they’re definitely a long way from the school classroom. An electric fireplace, big velvet lounge and a giant king bed take country chic to a new level, but the piece de resistance is a glass-walled bathroom. Not a room for sharing with strangers, each villa has a huge square spa bath right in the corner where the glass walls met – virtually in the centre of the open plan room – and even though you’re freshly scrubbed, it begs for another soak.
Hepburn Springs and Daylesford just down the road are known for their gourmet goodies but there’s nothing wrong with a night in. Grab pizza and a bottle of wine from Rubens@Hepburn and settle in by the fireplace.
In the morning, The Red Star Café is the go-to for a caffeine fix. The local hangout is filled with knickknacks from the road – travel guides, mini-mannequins, hats and more adorn the walls, which are worth perusing while you wait for waffles or homemade raisin toast.
Don’t go overboard because the rest of the day should be spent sampling the rest the local region has to offer. Make sure you’ve booked in for lunch or dinner at The Argus Dining Room. Just across the street from Red Star, the dining room is a part of the Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, another great spot to spend the night, and if you’ve got a group, book out the beautiful Villa Parma. The Argus shows off local produce with show stopping dishes from the kitchen garden and the hinterlands. A trip of heirloom beets is almost too pretty to eat and little touches like an amuse-bouche of salmon foam served in an eggshell perched on a porcelain egg cup make this a very special meal. The wine list is extensive but don’t forget a bottle of Hepburn Springs Sparkling Water.
Images by Lisa Perkovic and Hepburn at Hepburn