Hills of hedonism

In the Macedon Ranges sits Victoria's Spa Country, where stubbornly cold weather means there's little choice but to indulge.

Australia's most-popular food blogger Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, heads to Victoria's Spa Country to be greeted by snow flakes in November.

"The weather in Melbourne folks is well … terrible” the pilot's voice says laughing. It’s a cool seven degrees this evening in Melbourne and I’m severely under dressed. Mr NQN and I pick up our rental car and are off! To where? Well you’ve heard of cattle country right? Well we are headed off to Spa Country! Yes my dreams have come true! I’ve always said that if I weren’t a food blogger I’d be a spa blogger such is my love for facials and massages.

We take the drive to Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges. "Is that snow?” I ask Mr NQN when I see the white flakes fall towards us. It’s a beautiful sight with flurries hitting the windscreen. We arrive shortly after midnight and park our car. Grabbing our bags we run towards our villa called Desire and open the door. A roaring fireplace greets us and we rush towards it. "Oooh it’s gorgeous!” I tell Mr NQN in my excitement forgetting the time and the nearby neighbours and am promptly shushed by Mr NQN.

The room is absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous emerald green velvet lounge sits facing the fire place. A large range of supplies sits on the kitchen bench with all sorts of local goodies including a caponata, crackers, fudge, muesli in apple pie flavour (how good does that flavour sound?), bottles of Hepburn sparkling mineral water and there are two televisions, one in the lounge room and one in the bedroom.

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This is spa country so the bathroom goodies are fabulous. There is a range of MOR items as well as a cosmetics bag so that you can take them with you and gorgeously soft plush spa robes. And there’s the huge spa bath. Whenever I go somewhere and there’s a bath I must take one. I empty the fragrant bath salts provided in the bath and run a bath. It’s a tad slow to fill but Mr NQN and I gratefully hop in and relax and warm our bodies. After a relaxing bath I try the body butter – it’s perhaps a little too cold for the body butter as it has quite hard. I fall asleep straight away to the beautiful sounds of silence.

The next morning we rise and it’s spa treatment time! We head across the road to the Hepburn Spa and Bathhouse and are enveloped by warmth. Kim greets us and asks if we saw the snow this morning – so it wasn’t an illusion after all!

We take a little tour and she shows us the two sections. The first one is the sanctuary where people relax and make use of the spa where they use 50 per cent mineral water. It is heated to 34 degrees and is said to be good for arthritis and joint pain. There are also the spa couches where we see a couple relaxing before getting married. "I hope that it warms up! ” the groom says. The spa was devised by a German doctor in the 1940s.

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There is also a saltwater therapy pool which has a high salinity and is heated to 36 degrees and people can relax at night and watch the stars above through the skylight. Next to this are the monsoon showers which have three different temperatures cold, tepid and warm. We walk past the aromatherapy steam room which has three blends depending on the time of day revive, contentment and reset easy.

We then walk through to the spa area which is a historic building built over 100 years ago. There is also a chimney that was used years ago to hear the water as it comes out cold from the ground. We look up and see the vaulted ceilings – this was a practical measure of yesteryear as the spring water contains such a high amount of CO2 that they need it to ventilate the room. Apart from other treatments, there are also 100 per cent mineral baths where people typically relax for 30-45 minutes. There are 15 treatment rooms and some with showers so that you don’t have to leave the room. There are also three couples treatment rooms but I must bid Mr NQN adieu as his inner Finn emerges and he is off to the steam room and the pool and I am off for a treatment!

My therapist greets me wearing a one piece swimming costume. I’m having a Vichy shower treatment which involves being dry brushed, wrapped in a mud mask and then a scalp mud mask and massage. It is finished off with a Vichy shower where multi shower heads pulsate over the body and the temperature goes from warm to very warm.

This is an abridged version of the original blog post. To read on click here.

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