Centurion Magazine

Daylesford Delight

Daylesford in Victoria, Australia enjoys a well deserved status as one of the absolute gourmet hotspots of Australasia, but it wasn\'t always so. That the image of this once sleepy backwater should have been transformed so dramatically is largely attributed to the efforts of one woman: Alla Wolf-Tasker.

A pioneering restaurateur and hotelier, Wolf Tasker opened now legendary Lake House retreat in Victorian Spa Country in the hope that Melbournians would come. They did, helping the gold rush rural town of Daylesford burst into life, like the russets, gold\'s and flame reds of the tress every Autumn. Now the artsy community, suburb cuisine and enchanting landscape are keeping travellers coming back to the Macedon Ranges. We spoke to Wolf Tasker and listen to her outline her case for Daylesford as a luxury gourmet destination and, arguably, the best weekend getaway in Australia not to mention and ideal stop off for visitors to Melbourne and Victoria.

We have it all. Daylesford village will alway retain its character, and the whole place is just so achingly beautiful. We are completly surrounded by the Wombat State Forrest and rural land - I can see wallabies grazing outside my home in the morning - yet I\'m five minutes away from interesting coffee shops, bakeries and bookshops where its easy to while away the hours. Daylesford is the perfect blend for a real escape. Its away from the big smoke amongst fabulous landscapes, fresh air and starry skies, but offers the quality of shops spas, good food and wine - with noe of the grind to get here, as we are only an hour from Melbourne Airport.

In the beginning when we first started building Lake House in 1980, Daylesford was a pretty down at the heel town. My Husband Allan (the artist, Allan Wolf Tasker) are privileged to be a part of the resurrection of the area and watch it grow with us. Apart from the hospitality professionals, a raft of other creative types settled here and it snowballed, bring wonderful writers, artists, musicians and the \"Tree Changes\" from the city. Now we employe over 100 young people who, like us, add to the fabric of a colourful and interesting community.

As a gardener and a cook it\'s wonderful to be able to anticipate the bounty of the seasons, which are quite distinct and individually beautiful, as we are on the ridge of the great divide. The six acres of productive gardens at Lake House, cascading down to the lake, offer something splendid each season.

Food Paradise We also have a very special relationship with the farming folk. The Lake House kitchen has been dealing with many of our local growers and suppliers for a several decades; I love the fact that, in some cases, we are now dealing with the second generation of winemakers and farmers, which is a common thing in Europe but not in Australia.

Escape People keep coming back to Daylesford because they can escape their daily reality and mix rejuvenation with lovely things do. Nature lovers can hike; the great divide is one of Australia\'s best walks. Lavendula is an idyllic Swiss Italian farm, beautifully restored by Carol White. The 19th century gold stone buildings, rolling hills of lavender, olive tress and wines and Mediterranean cafes are magical, and the ash groves flame up with red and orange every Autumn.

Spend The late 80\'s, Tina Baniska bought and restored a Victorian, gold rush era convent. Now a thriving gallery selling the works of local, potters, designers and wine makers, there is also the cheekily named ‘Bad Habits\' cafe and gothic style Alter Bar. Like the nuns before them women have had a huge influence in building. The Mill Market on Sundays sells ‘Vintage everything\' - curios, clothes, furniture and objects d\'art. Foodies can meet local growers and food producers at the monthly Farmers market and get hooked on their organic ingredients.

Luxuriate People come to Lake House to escape their daily reality so my goal is to live up to our reputation for rejuvenation. We tailor make experiences with personal services. It\'s also a very romantic place; our outdoors terraces overlooking the lake can be full of conoodling couples on a Summers night - of all ages.

Dine You\'ll rub shoulders with people from all over Australia and the world over dinner in the restaurant. The diehard foodies eat their way through all our menu or some for the various cooking classes. You get a fabulous whole day or learning about food and wine in the company of like minded Epicureans. Wine aficionados tend to disappear with the wine list to their room for a careful study or tour our Cellar Room with one of our sommeliers for a one on one session.


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