We're just back from a few days at Hepburn Springs in the Victorian Spa country. Its a beautiful area, quite cold at this time of year but still a rewarding place to stay and unwind.
We wanted to stay in Australia's only Ryokan (a traditional Japanese Inn) - Shizuka. It was extremely peaceful and served beautiful Japanese food, although the futon was starting to feel a bit hard towards the end of our stay!.
Hepburn Springs has a lively cafe, the Red Star, an eclectic general store and an excellent gallery, the Chameleon. I was particularly taken by some subversive prints by Nick Mau and Carole Porter, eg one work sent up the absurdity of carbon offsets for such crazy things as tourist flights to the moon, in the colour palette of soviet era propaganda.
We also ate at a funky restaurant called Cliffy's that was into slow food, most of the nights offering being variants of mediterranean slow cooked meat and veg combinations. Apparently the menu varies according to what the farmer brings in which is just how we like it. Very nice, especially washed down with the local organic pinot noir from the Captains Creek winery.
In nearby Trentham is the delicious Red Beard bakery which we visited a few times for their beautiful sourdough bread cooked in one of the few Scotch ovens remaining in Australia.