Welcome to spa country. Shizuka Ryokan is located in the Wombat State Forest, between former volcanoes, a short drive from the town of Daylesford. Hepburn Springs has a rich cultural history that began with the Traditional Owners—the Dja Dja Wurrung people—and was later influenced by Swiss Italian immigrants during the 1850s gold rush.
There are over 70 natural mineral springs in the region. In 1864 the citizens of Hepburn Springs petitioned the government to protect the mineral springs from mining. The Hepburn Mineral Spring Reserve was created in 1865. The historic Hepburn Bathhouse, established 1895, is a short walk from Shizuka Ryokan. Several springs exist in the main reserve—Soda, Sulphur, Pavilion, Locarno and Wyuna. Golden Spring, Hendersons and Lithia Spring are nearby. Hand pumps allow visitors to bottle or drink the water free of charge.
Daylesford has a reputation for excellent food and wine, the result of its volcanic soils and mineral aquifers. Bakers, beekeepers, cheesemakers, and small-scale organic farmers work throughout the region. The Perfect Drop, is a food and wine lounge in Daylesford with an award-winning Michelin star chef. The Farmers Arms has pints of beer and excellent food, such as racks of lamb, perfect for a winter night. For daytime food, Cliffy’s in Daylesford or the Hepburn General Store, are a good bet.
The region is home to many well-regarded wineries, such as Cobaw Ridge, Curly Flat, and Granite Hills. Wineries are open for tours, tastings and cellar-door sales. Daylesford Cider Company produces a range of ciders made using 17 varieties of heritage listed English apples. Herbal Lore Liqueurs produce fine ports, liqueurs and single malt whiskey.
The Mill Markets, Australia’s largest indoor market of antiques and collectables, is just out of town. Your visit to Shizuka Ryokan might coincide with a local farmers’ market, where you can buy fruit and veg, eggs and bread, soap, flowers, cheese and wine.
In Hepburn Springs, there is an 18-hole golf course and just outside of Daylesford is a horseback riding school. At Cricket Willow, home of the cricket bat, you can see a bat being crafted. Many people walk through Hepburn Regional Park to see wildflowers and animals. Bushwalkers travel along the Great Diving Trail. The Tipperary Walk explores Hepburn Regional Park from Hepburn Springs Reserve to Lake Daylesford. It is a well-signposted walk which includes some of the old water races from the gold mining era. It is a total of 16.3 km, is easy and gently undulating,
Come Autumn, the Daylesford region is flooded with people foraging for edible mushrooms. Courses are available in the area from renowned fungi ecologist, Alison Pouliot.
Former goldmining towns such as Ballarat and Bendigo are under an hour’s drive away. Interesting towns to visit, such as Castlemaine, Trentham and Clunes, are nearby. Maps are available at the Daylesford Visitor Information Centre for the Historic Village Walk. The walk takes in the Old Macaroni Factory (1859), Villa Parma (1864) and Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco guesthouses, hotels, and miners’ cottages. Hepburn Springs features predominantly Edwardian architecture, unlike the Victorian architecture in Daylesford, because most of the buildings in Hepburn Springs were destroyed during a bushfire in 1906.