Lose yourself at Australia’s spa capital, Hepburn Springs, just a couple of hours’ drive north of Melbourne.

The curious campground at Mt Franklin, 9km north of Daylesford, is situated inside a volcano’s crater.

Lie back and let the hot natural spring water soothe your aching muscles… Sounds good, doesn't it? It's time to heed the call of the spa capital of Australia - Hepburn Saprings, in central Victoria.

Less than two hours' drive from Melbourne, the Hepburn-Daylesford area is a hugely popular spot for day trippers and for weekend getaways. There are several good campgrounds and plenty of B&B style accommodation, so staying a few extra days is no problem.

The Hepburn region - blessed with Australia's highest concentration of natural mineral springs - has lured holidaymakers for more than 100 years. Artefacts donated by expats who've settled in Hepburn region flank
the walls of the Red Star Cafe, epitomising the town's charm.

The main feature of the spa town is the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. The old brick bathhouse precinct dates back to 1895 and sits beautifully alongside stylish modern facilities, and although it is now a few years old, the $13m renovation is quite outstanding. You can swim in the larger hot relaxation pool, spa pool or book a private spa. You'll be rather peckish after all that floating around and the old original bathhouse pavilion has now been converted into a sophisticated cafe, with many of its original features retained. Its high vaulted timber ceilings create a cool retreat in summer and the owners stoke up the open fires in the cooler months, so you really can't lose.

The Bathhouse precinct is surrounded by lush parkland that includes walking paths, quaint bridges, barbecue facilities and playgrounds. Hand pumps throughout the parklands let you siphon mineral water from the ground, although I must warn you it's not to everyone's taste (battery acid comes to mind - Ed).

Natural mineral water is said to have many health-giving properties and advocates claim that bathing in the warm pools will relieve you of all manner of ailments. Whether those benefits are real or perceived is neither here nor there - it's a lovely way to spend a few hours and it's guaranteed to heal the soul.



Once you've soaked yourself till you resemble a dried apricot, you could try tackling parts of the 16km Tipperary Track either by foot, mountain bike or car. It explores surrounding natural features such as the Hepburn pool, the Blowhole and Mt Franklin. The curious campground at Mt Franklin, 9km north of Daylesford, is situated inside an extinct volcano's crater. It enjoys good wind protection and there are a number of well established trees providing plenty of shade, and with good grass ground cover it's a very pleasant spot to pull up with the camper trailer for the night.

The local communities have gone to a huge effort to preserve the region's distinctive architecture. Daylesford in particular has a wonderful collection of period buildings on the main streets, beautiful country cottages and stately homesteads. The Daylesford Lake just on the edge of town is also a very peaceful spot to spend a few hours, just feeding the ducks or having a cuppa at the Boathouse cafe.

So pack your togs and get set for a trip to Spa Country.