In the middle of the native forest on the outskirts of Blackwood is a sprawling garden that has erupted into a riotous range of oranges and reds. After a long, hot, dry summer the Garden of St Erth is giving way to the change of season by putting on a colourful cloak of autumnal hues before it gives way to the chill of winter. At 600 metres above sea level, The Garden of St Erth is a cold climate garden that covers 2 hectares of sloping land on the edge of the Simmons Reef gold fields above the headwaters of the Lerderderg River.
The Palais-Hepburn has been reborn and it is beautiful. The 92-year-old dance hall in Hepburn Springs’ main drag has undergone refurbishment and remodelling and has emerged as a smooth, mature and luxurious palace of entertainment.
Chef Tansy Good has not laid out a Phil Spector style wall of flavour, instead, in her considered style, she has left space on the palate for wine. This, and the potential for the diner to enjoy them together. The restraint in her cooking is palpable. “I can’t help myself,” says Tansy emphatically. “The simplest food is the hardest to perfect because there is no place to hide.”
It is mid-morning on a clear summer’s day and Hepburn Springs chef and restaurant owner David Willcocks is preparing for the evening service. Deliveries are dropped off at The Surly Goat, a casual restaurant housed in a little weatherboard building, shaded by sprawling trees on the edge of the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.
Local hospitality king Frank Moylan and his wife Melissa Macfarlane have returned to Kyneton’s Royal George Hotel. After almost a decade since they poured their last glass of wine in their 160-year-old Piper Street hotel they have been rightfully restored to their place behind the jump.
The new Holgate Brewhouse is a complex machine of interconnected stainless steel tanks, tuns, pipes and hoppers. The purpose-built brewery in the heart of Woodend has been years in the planning and will allow the 20 year old craft brewery to expand production from the present 600 000 litres per annum to 5 millions litres within five years. The process has been slow. Deliberately so.
Between Malmsbury and Daylesford is a dead-end lane that dips and swerves with the lay of the land. Zig Zag Road cuts through the last of the fertile basalt soils before they give way to the hard quartz country near Taradale…
Alison Pouliot changed the way I see the world and she continues to do so. A trained ecologist she is an expert in mycology. Fungus. “What a lot of people do not understand is that in taxonomy there is an entire kingdom devoted to fungus,” says Alison. “You think about the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom but there is also a kingdom to which fungi belong.”
The morning summer air is filled with the fragrance of a thousand roses. Row after row of roses are in full bloom, a palette of pink, apricot, deep red, white, cream and ochre. Above them is a riot of insects: bees, native bees, hover flies, tiny moths – all eager to feed on the heady nectar.
The grass is almost waist high and you can barely see the sheep. They are Suffolk, a breed of sheep that originated in England about 200 years ago with square bodies and open black faces which means they don’t have fleece on their face.
So you’re a gardener?” we ask Simon Rickard as we wander past established trees, trimmed hedges and herbaceous borders of his Trentham property. “I was,” he says with a laugh. “But my back isn’t what it was, so I have given up digging holes in the ground and let my brain do the work now…”
Lauriston artist Sarah Gabriel looks triumphant. She has spent the last six months working on her show Floral Engagement, an exhibition of works on paper and board depicting the flowers, birds, fabrics and objects that intertwine through her life on a beautiful bush property at Lauriston…
The Old Hepburn Hotel is closing up shop. The freehold has been sold and the new owners won’t be continuing the lease. A bastion of live Australian music for 16 years will fall silent and the district will lose one its most egalitarian and truly grass roots venues.
With our small screens filled with reality shows creating makeovers in 48-hours, we could be forgiven for thinking that renovating houses is something that is done at a blistering speed with little to no experience, no professional tradies and for a ridiculously tiny budget. As long as everything looks good in the photos, who cares?
March is always one of my favourite months of the year: Summer is in full swing and is always reluctant to let Autumn appear; vegetable gardens are in full flight with tomatoes seemingly growing and ripening overnight; it is the finale of “Gay Christmas” – a period of GLBTIQ festivals and events across the country starting in January with Midsumma Festival then ending with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney and our very own ChillOut Festival in Daylesford; and finally, the days start to get a little cooler and decidedly shorter.
Welcome to February! We are hitting the streets a little late this month but thanks to the efforts of the incredible CFA superheroes, a timeline hiccup was the only outcome of the Hepburn Springs fires for us here at Lost Headquarters. Our office is in Hepburn Springs and backs onto the gully where the fires were so we were a little tense over the weekend whilst some of the dramatic photos being posted on social media made it look like an inferno. But thankfully that wasn't the case.
Well as another year draws to a close, we are as always, very grateful for the successes we have enjoyed, and the wonderful region in which we live and how for most of us, life really is pretty wonderful…