The only thing better than unexpectedly stumbling upon a breathtaking vista or hidden café during a weekend getaway? Scoring a hot tip from a local – that other travellers don’t know about. Getting the inside word on what to do and where to go brings any destination to life, but it’s tough if you don’t know anyone from that area. So who better to give us the local lowdown than our very own Beautiful Accommodation property owners and managers? This week, we chatted to Patrick Baird from property group Daylesford Accommodation Escapes, which boasts a number of boutique boltholes including Argus Views (pictured above), Cinque, Sade's, Springs Spa Villa, Azure, Amanti and Damais.
The insider: Patrick Baird, Daylesford Accommodation Escapes
How long have you lived in this area?
"My wife, Anne, and I have lived here for about 14 years, but we've had property in Daylesford since the mid 1990s."
What do you love most about it?
"Just about everything. It is a tourist town in some respects, but it also has a community feel. The facilities (schools, sports clubs, hospital, etc) are great, but for a country town we also have amazing cafes, restaurants, markets, galleries and natural attractions."
What's your favourite time of year here?
"Autumn - the colours are magnificent, and I love the cool, crisp mornings and stunning windless days with the occasional hint of wood smoke in the air from the open fires."
What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about this region?
"The Daylesford lake was originally a Chinese market garden supplying produce to the gold miners. It was dammed up to give additional water supplies to run the gold sluices."
If Daylesford were a celebrity, who would it be and why?
"Hugh Jackman - natural, easy-going, multifaceted and completely likeable."
How do you start your day? Where's your favourite breakfast spot?
"We're really spoilt for choice here. For coffee, either Larder or Koukla Cafe in the main street. For breakfast, either the Boathousecafe on the lake or Wombat Hill House in the Botanic Gardens."
What's your top spot for an after-5 drink?
"I've actually got two! There's a great little wine bar called Wine and the Country with local wines and a choice of nibbles, or The Farmers Arms hotel, a truly great country pub."
What's your favourite restaurant in Daylesford? Go-to dish?
"The pork belly at The Farmers Arms hotel - unbeatable."
You've got a visitor in town who you really want to impress – where do you take them for dinner?
"Alla Wolf-Tasker's Lake House is a true dining experience. The Argus Dining Room in Hepburn Springs is my other top pick."
Where are the best local photo opportunities?
"You're killing me here - it's like asking me to pick my favourite child! Lake Daylesford with the geese and and the mist rising off the water on a spring morning; the amazing gorges, rocky outcrops and bushland in the surrounding Wombat State Forest; or high up in the Botanic Gardens where it backs onto the iconic Convent Gallery is also spectacular."
What's the number one must-visit attraction in the area?
"The Convent Gallery is just stunning. Set in manicured gardens, it has five levels of artworks, jewellery and a cafe, as well as a wedding chapel, conference rooms and the funky Altar Bar."
If you only had 24 hours in Daylesford, how would you spend it?
"A morning walk around the lake followed by breakfast at the Boathouse, then off for a round of golf with the kangaroos at theHepburn Springs Golf Club. I'd have a couple of beers and a counter meal at the Savoia Hotel in Heppy central and then spend the afternoon getting spoilt at the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. If I had any energy left after that, I'd wander the shops and galleries of both Daylesford and Hepburn (or maybe The Amazing Mill Markets) and then get the courtesy bus to the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville for dinner and drinks. This is only touching the surface really, you'd need 48 hours at least."
Where to stay in Daylesford