It takes about 90 minutes to drive from central Melbourne north west to Daylesford; leaving from the airport cuts about 20 minutes off your journey time. Major car hire companies have outlets in the city and at the airport.
Melbourne Airport (www.melbourneairport.com.au), which handles both international and domestic flights, is the closest to the Daylesford region. Qantas (www.qantas.com) is the major carrier flying in to Melbourne.
Travellers can catch selected V Line services (www.vline.com.au) from Southern Cross Station in central Melbourne to either Woodend or Ballarat, where connecting buses travel to Daylesford nearby.
Country code: +61; Victoria: (0)3 (drop the zero if dialling from outside Australia).
Sure, Lake House is a cookbook, but it's more than that. If you're interested in how chef Alla Wolf-Tasker transformed a patch of dirt into one of the country's most inspiring restaurants and hotels, and in the process gave the Daylesford area a new locavore fervour, you'll love this lavishly illustrated tome.
Do go / Don't Go
In summer January and February can be very hot in this region, and winter months June and July can be extremely cold (a boon for those who like cuddling in front of open fires). The population of the town explodes on the weekend, particularly on sublimely sunny days, when Melburnians escape the ratrace to attend the massive Daylesford Sunday Market and enjoy the country air. If you like things quieter, visit during the week (but be aware that some businesses close on Monday and Tuesday).
Daylesford is one of Victoria's premier wining and dining destinations. Over the past 30 years, lead by chef Alla-Wolf Tasker - who dreamed of using local produce at her restaurant - a slew of mainly city folk have begun farming small plots here with specialist crops. You'll find organic and heirloom fruit and vegetables, free-range pork, cheeses, honey, olives, wagyu beef and venison, among other gourmet goodness. The region also has a growing cool-climate winemaking industry. For information visit the Daylesford Macedon Produce website (www.dmproduce.com.au).
The Daylesford Taxi Service (+61 (0)3 5348 1111) drops visitors and locals off at restaurants and pubs and ferries them back again. There are only a few cars so book if you need to be somewhere at a specific time, particularly on the weekend.
As in all parts of Australia, tips aren't expected, although if you're particularly impressed by a meal and service a 10 per cent gratuity is appreciated. Round up taxi fares to the nearest dollar.
Australian dollar (AU$).
A wicker basket for all that fresh food; bathers and kaftan - there's no beach but plenty of communal bathing at the spas.
There's a strong creative presence here, with boho types attracted for many years by the inspiring geography, proximity to Melbourne and, until recently, inexpensive property. Now, many of the artists and writers have moved further out - to towns such as Creswick and Castlemaine - but a number of galleries still show almost exclusively local work. Take a look at Clayfire Gallery (http://clayfiregallery.com.au) and Pantechnicon Gallery (www.daylesfordartgallery.com.au), both on Vincent Street.
For mind-blowing massage action, book into Daylesford Day Spa (www.daylesforddayspa.com.au), Endota Spa (www.endota.com.au) or Shizuka Ryokan Japanese Country Spa & Wellness Retreat (www.shizuka.com.au). To kill time while your partner gets pampered, tee off at Hepburn Springs Golf Club (www.hepburngolf.com.au).
The best retail therapy is to be had on a Sunday, when one of Victoria's largest outdoor markets sets up shop near the Daylesford railway station (a vintage train runs to nearby Bullarto the same day). We recommend the locally cultivated arts and crafts and fresh produce. For more tasty regional fare, check out the Daylesford Farmers' Market, held on the first Saturday morning of each month at the town's primary school.
No matter which way you stare from the Convent (www.theconvent.com.au), the vista is impressive. The former home of the Presentation Sisters, this 19th-century mansion at the top of Wombat Hill boasts views of the town and surrounding countryside. These days, it's also a gallery, showing travelling exhibitions and local art. Soak up some culture, lounge in the gardens, then indulge at the Med-style Bad Habits Café before absolving your sins at the Altar Bar.
Stroll around the shores of super-pretty Lake Daylesford, on the town's outskirts, where there are serene spots to enjoy a picnic or throw in a fishing line. Bring some stale bread to feed the resident ducks and swans and you'll have a flock of new friends before you know it.
January The rest of the country might be barbecuing, but Australia Day also means the running of the Hanging Rock Cup (www.hangingrockracingclub.com.au). Alongside thoroughbred racing, you can take in music, kids' activities and food - or wander the legendary, looming rock itself. February Meet the passionate farmers, foodies and winemakers working here - and taste their wares - at the annual Regional Producers Day held at the Lake House (www.lakehouse.com.au). March On Labour Day Long Weekend, Daylesford hosts Chillout (www.chilloutfestival.com.au), the largest gay and lesbian festival in regional Australia. Enjoy street parades, dance parties, music, art and outdoor larks, then hit the spas. October The region was settled by Swiss-Italian migrants and Lavandula is one of their original farms. Now restored and producing crops of lavender, it is also the location of La Primavera (www.lavandula.com.au), which honours this heritage with food, music and tours, as well as an evening lantern parade and fireworks.