Lake House

Ah, the last of the Daylesford posts. Our final stop for the day was Daylesford’s famous Lake House. If you’re a foodie, chances are you’ve already heard of Lake House and its owners, Alla and Allan Wolf Tasker. Since opening Lake House in 1984, they have turned it into a destination into its own right. Located on the shores of Lake Daylesford and surrounded by stringybarks, poplars and pin oaks, Lake House is a one-stop shop for complete and utter relaxation.

Whilst I’m hopeless at cooking, I do have an addiction to reading food magazines and Alla, as executive chef of Lake House, frequently features in my favourite, delicious. Her approach to cooking makes sense to me – cook using fresh, local, in season ingredients. It’s not rocket science but results in delicious, honest food. I was therefore adamant that we at least visit Lake House during our Daylesford sojourn.

Alas, several other people evidently had the same idea and the restaurant was fully booked for the duration of our stay. However, the events team at Lake House are superb and were happy to direct us to their sister cafe, Wombat Hill House, and let us explore the grounds at our leisure.

I'm picturing a happy couple, surrounded by family and friends...

Lake House offers several locations for a wedding ceremony, each just as romantic as the other. A wedding by the lake under the canopy of the silver birches would be stunning any time of the year. I’m picturing leaves of burnt orange and russet in autumn and vibrant green in spring. If you prefer to marry indoors, the Terrace Room with its fireplace, chandeliers and views is equally spectacular. Due to a wedding taking place on the day we visited we didn’t get to see it in all its glory, but knowing the detail put into everything else at Lake House, I’ve no doubt the Terrace Room would be magnificent.

After your ceremony, the deck offers a comfortable spot to enjoy pre-dinner drinks and canapes and take in the lake views. It was an overcast afternoon when we visited but I had no trouble imagining guests sipping bellinis on a balmy summer evening and cheering on a newlywed couple.

Drinks on the deck

And after you’re done celebrating, retire to your room/suite/villa. The next day you can wake up to views over Lake Daylesford or the Lake House gardens, expertly decorated with pieces from local artists. If you really feel like spoiling yourself, head over to the on-site Salus spa.

I could wake up to this view quite easily

By now we were getting peckish, so we followed the Lake House team’s advice and headed up to Wombat Hill House. A renovated cottage set amongst the Wombat Botanic Gardens, it’s a delightful spot for lunch that follows Alla’s philosophy of fresh, local and in-season. I tucked in to a pizza while Dave made quick work of lamb meatballs. Its cosy environs would be a great place for a post-wedding debrief with your nearest and dearest.

Wombat Hill House

Writing these posts has made me long for another Daylesford getaway. I know there are more venues that I’ve yet to explore (hello Villa Parma, Peppers Mineral Springs and Sault, to name just a few) and let’s face it, down time is never wasted. With Christmas round the corner, I think I’ll be dropping a few hints about how relaxing another trip to Daylesford would be!

Lake House
King St, Daylesford

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The Convent Gallery

Following a very successful morning at Lavandula in Shepherds Flat, Dave and I climbed into the car and headed back towards Daylesford to visit the Convent Gallery. On the way through Hepburn Springs we passed Villa Parma, resulting in a shout from me and whiplash for Dave as he tried to catch a glimpse of this Italianate beauty.

Recently restored to its former glory, Villa Parma is a stately home now available for groups, families and wedding parties to lease for a luxurious getaway. As the website states that it’s also available for weddings, I’m putting another Daylesford trip on our to-do list so I can check it out! In the meantime, if anyone wants to book a holiday there and invite me along, please feel free.

But back to the Convent Gallery. I have wanted to visit the Convent ever since I bought my first car. The daughter of the lady I bought it off had married at the Convent and pictures of the wedding graced their living room wall. I was entranced and my first visit didn’t disappoint.

Entrance to the chapel, Convent Gallery

The Convent Gallery sits atop Wombat Hill and looks out over Daylesford and surrounds. Built in the 1860s as a private residence, it was purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s for use as a convent and girls’ boarding school. It closed in 1973 and spent years in neglect before being purchased by artist Tina Banitska in 1988.

The gardens

After years of renovations, the Convent reopened in 1991 and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of Victoria’s most unique venues. When Dave and I arrived, it was late morning and the Convent was bustling. Couples and families populated the Bad Habits cafe (where we later enjoyed their famous scones) and visitors wandered through the Gallery.

We made our way up to the former nun’s chapel on the first floor. Built in 1904, the chapel has an air of warm intimacy about it. I found it all too easy to picture myself standing on the front platform next to a groom, a beaming bride making her way towards us.

The chapel at Daylesford's Convent Gallery

As it’s non-denominational, the chapel offers an alternative for couples who would like the feel of a church wedding with the freedom to define their ceremony themselves. It also allows you to marry amongst all of Daylesford’s splendour without worrying about what the weather might do to your plans! Best of all, adjoining the chapel is the St Lawrence atrium, a sun-drenched space with views of the convent gardens and a wide balcony for guests to enjoy drinks and canapes on afterwards.

We then set off to explore the gardens. Behind the convent proper is a gravel path set amonst flowering roses and lavender bushes. Take the walk, I promise it’s worth it. We made our way up to the very top of the gardens and enjoyed the view over Daylesford and the convent itself. Looking down over the atrium, I couldn’t help but imagine how lovely it would be to stand in the gardens, champagne in hand, admiring the view with guests milling about.

Now, if someone could just bring me a glass of champagne...

The team at the Convent have really thought of just about everything a couple might need for their wedding day. In addition to the atrium, the St Michael’s room can seat up to 120 guests for a reception and the Altar Bar on the ground floor is available for a post-reception party that stretches long into the evening. And when the bride and groom are ready for some time to themselves, a luxurious penthouse apartment on the top floor can be reserved for the wedding night.

The Altar Bar on the ground floor is on offer as an after-party destination

Now that I’ve been, I can’t believe I waited so long to visit the Convent Gallery. I can’t wait to go back. If you fancy getting married there, give me a call!

If you’d like to see more of the Convent, I’ve posted more pictures here.
 
Corner Hill and Daly Streets, Daylesford
 
Next post – Lake House, Daylesford.
 
 

Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm

Last weekend, the boy and I took off to Daylesford for a little getaway. We haven’t had a proper holiday in over two years and were both in need of some quiet time with no phones, computers or any other mod cons to distract us. It worked.

Daylesford is in the heart of Victorian Spa Country and, as you might imagine, a place of immense natural beauty. The area has the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia and over the years has developed a strong reputation for incredible food and accommodation offerings. Not surprisingly, it’s also become a popular wedding destination.

Put your feet up at Lavandula

Although I was keen for long periods of laziness – which we duly achieved – I also wanted to check out some of the amazing ceremony venues on offer. Lucky for me I have a patient boyfriend, as he gladly jumped in the car with me and set out to explore. We visited three different venues, each simply stunning. As I’ve got lots to say about each, the venues will get reviewed in three separate posts.

Our first stop was Lavandula Swiss-Italian Farm in Shepherds Flat. It was somewhat of an impulse stop, and boy, am I glad we made it. A meandering driveway hides most of Lavandula’s beauty from public view and it’s only when you enter through the big farm gate that you can truly appreciate what’s on offer.

A touch of whimsy

Poor Dave. I imagine the experience for him was akin to being a parent at a Christmas tree farm. Every few seconds I would yell ‘Look! Over here!’ as I discovered another avenue or romantic setting and dashed off without a backwards glance.

The first to catch my eye was this glorious arbour. It is covered in what must be thousands of pink roses and is divinely fragrant. The photos don’t even begin to do it justice. Imagine stealing a quiet moment here with your new husband/wife after your wedding ceremony!

Hello, gorgeous

Another spot that I was instantly enamoured with was this lush avenue of green. Verdant trees frame it on three sides, making it the perfect spot for an outdoor ceremony. It’s beautiful in its simplicity – imagine it set up with rows of white chairs, separated by a central aisle marked in white rose petals.

Imagine saying ‘I do’ here
One of the things that really appeals about Lavandula is the ability to have everything in one place. The on-site trattoria can cater for your reception and I have to confess, wandering past the wood-fired ovens I imagined a big, Italian, family-style feast under the stars. Checked tablecloths, candles in chianti bottles, fairy lights strung between the trees. Can’t you just see it?
 

Al fresco

Then I got thinking about other wedding-related uses for Lavandula. A hen’s day picnic on the lawns, or perhaps you fancy a pre/post-wedding gathering with the in-laws playing petanque? I could go on and on about Lavandula but my words really won’t do it justice. It’s a place you simply have to see for yourself.

If you’d like to see more of Lavandula, I’ve posted more pictures here.

Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm
350 Hepburn-Newstead Rd, Shepherds Flat (via Daylesford)
 
Next post – Daylesford Convent Gallery.