A spinning Curtin Mayfield record booms in the foyer, as Michael Lelliot dawdles between portraits of Hells Angel bikers, religious icons and bottles of rum. Mike, as his mates know him, has a way of making chaos feel natural.
“Should we take the Rolls Royce out drifting?” smiles Mike. A contagious larrikin, Mike has the figure of an NBA star, wears stick-n-poke tattoos and maintains a bushranger’s swagger.
Synergy. If there is one word to describe the partnership between Tony De Marco and Theresa Albiloi it is synergy. Business and life partners, this dynamic couple met later in life, yet together they have already accomplished more than many would in a long lifetime. We meet them at The Oxford, a large former guest house they recently refurbished and added to their portfolio of luxury accommodation properties, The Houses Daylesford. The Oxford is massive and sleeps 24. The walls are lined with over 90 original charcoal drawings by artist Derek Erskine. The main room is dominated by an impressive non-sectional double-sided upholstered banquette. "It was made for a house in Caulfield," says Theresa. "It cost them tens of thousands of dollars." Tony jumps in, "we paid a lot less than that," he says with a laugh. "It took a lot of work to reassemble when it arrived."
Nick Andrew is a Beaumaris boy. He has that air of a kid who grew up by the sea. He has limbs slightly worn from battling against the windsurfer and a big upfront voice from talking against the wind. But Nick was an observant kid and took in all those canter levered block houses in the sand dunes as he rode around on his BMX. Those preposterous Australian modernist creations with floor to ceiling windows, flat rooves and mixed mediums where brick, steel, wood and aluminium collided to create a new form of Australian architecture. He saw it all.
Lynda Gardener has an infectious enthusiasm. Her eyes light up as she describes a house she is styling or the new small hotel she is working on. The interior stylist, with her broad smile and signature mane of untamed hair, is an unmissable part of the local business community.
Back in 2007 the millennial drought was well under way. The country was dry and farming communities were hurting. Clunes, the historic town 40km west of Daylesford, was suffering. Shops were closing and there was an uneasy sense of decline in the community. A group of locals put their minds together and decided to gather some book traders and turn Clunes into a mini book fair for a day. They expected a few hundred people. Six thousand showed up.
Danny Wootton is a quiet man. Softly spoken with a calming energy about him. You get the distinct impression that he sees the world differently. And not just because he spends most of his time looking at it through a lens.
There are some Hepburn locals who do not believe the spring waters have healing powers. Since the Swiss Italians first laid eyes on the mineral rich springs bubbling up from the earth this little warren of forest and gullies has been a magnet to those who wanting to drink the water or to bathe in it…