Tell us something about your property. What style of property is it (miner’s cottage, new build, villa, farm)?
Aroona began as a miner’s cottage dating back to the late 19th century. It has been in our family since 1985 and was extended in the late 1980s. In 2011 Rob and I extended it further and completely renovated the whole house. It was ready for guests in late 2013.
What was your inspiration when creating your holiday home?
There were 2 driving factors – we wanted to maintain the integrity of the original miner’s cottage and maximise the stunning views of Lake Daylesford as well as the towers and spires of the town’s buildings. We gutted the original house and found local craftsmen who were able to recreate the original style. The local plasterer even had the original ceiling moulds. We extended the rear of the house and opened it up to the views, with spectacular windows and doors onto the pavilion style deck. We wanted the house to retain its unique character while being stylish and comfortable, inviting people to relax.
Why did you choose this region as the location for your holiday home?
We have always enjoyed the natural beauty of the area and it caters to so many tastes with its wonderful diversity and opportunities for entertainment, relaxation and indulgence.
What is the story behind the name of your property?
Aroona is an Aboriginal word meaning “a place of running water”. This has particular resonance for us as we are situated between the old water courses which ran from the gold diggings down to Lake Daylesford. It evokes Daylesford’s history as well as that of our property.
What is your favourite part of the property?
Being able to prepare meals at the kitchen bench overlooking the lake and the trees and buildings on the Vincent Street Hill is a joy. Rob loves the deck and its expansive lake views so much he eats breakfast there whatever the season and weather!!
In summer, we both love being on the deck or having the doors wide open and relaxing on the sofa under the huge arch window, especially at sunset. In winter, the second lounge, which we call the library, is the perfect place to unwind in front of the fire with a good book and a favourite drink in hand.
What sort of experience do you want your guests to have when staying at your property?
We would love our guests to feel transported to a place of beauty and calm. When they turn from the hallway into the library and see beyond to the living area and the stunning views, they will know they can relax and leave all cares behind. It will be apparent that they can stay cocooned in the house, with its fully equipped kitchen and all entertainment options with TV, music and wifi. Equally, the location means they can easily reach so many of Daylesford’s attractions.
What is your favourite time of the year to visit the region and why?
Daylesford and its environs are always beautiful but we absolutely love Autumn. With the range of European trees in abundance, we always look forward to the leaves turning from yellow to deep red around the lake, through town and at Aroona. As the mist settles gently at sunset and the lights come on in the homes across the lake there is a magical quality which never ceases to delight.
What do you think is special about this region?
The region is within easy reach of Melbourne yet it feels like a world away. Every town or hamlet has its own charm, and the pace of life in each one allows visitors to relax completely. The combination of the mineral springs, the waterfalls, European influences against a backdrop of magnificent Australian bush makes a unique landscape. It is no wonder that the Hepburn Bathhouse was established all those years ago, and the new version has taken relaxation, indulgence and well-being to a new level. We have been a part of this region since before our children were born. They are now adults. Throughout their lives, we have always found Daylesford and the wider region has offered so much. Our children have explored the mullock heaps from the gold era days on the hills behind the house, played on the equipment near the Boathouse, as well as spending lots of time on the pedalos on the lake. They have loved paddling in canoes on Lake Jubilee and then enjoying the honey from Des O’Toole just down the road. The Sunday morning market has always delivered up treasures, and the Convent Gallery has always held some fascination for them. As they have grown, they have enjoyed exploring the wineries with us, along with much longer walks through the Wombat State Forest. Over all the years we have loved being in the region we have always marvelled at the range of extraordinary dining opportunities. Something we absolutely love is the freedom to be yourself and relax. We love the locals who embrace us with such warmth that we feel we are coming home. We love the sense of community, not just in Daylesford, but in Trentham, Castlemaine, Woodend & Malmsbury, to name a few. There are exquisite spa retreats, fine dining, elegant art galleries, fabulous shops, excellent wineries, family style pubs and cafes… all against a backdrop of the most wonderful Australian bush.
Do you have a favourite village or hamlet to visit near Daylesford and what do you like about it?
We always leave the Calder Freeway at Malmsbury when going to Daylesford. The bakery there is second to none. Try one of their gourmet pies or grab a loaf of their sourdough. There is also a lovely walk to take in the gardens along to the railway bridge. Opposite the gardens is the Moto Bean Café – great coffee and terrific motoring memorabilia. Rathdowne Antiques on the main road has exquisite dinnerware, soft furnishings and so forth. Well worth a visit.
What are your top tips for places to eat and things to do in the region?
Eating out is always a treat in Daylesford and the surrounding areas. We love Cliffy’s for breakfast. The Farmers Arms and Jackies on Vincent are firm favourites for dinner, and lunch at the Boathouse is always enjoyable. Further afield, we love Surly Goat in Hepburn Springs. The Perfect Drop is great for spectacular cocktails,
For a special occasion, we choose Mercato or The Lakehouse for dinner.
We regularly visit Trentham. The recently re-opened Cosmopolitan Hotel has wonderful live music on Friday nights as well as Sunday afternoon, and their garden setting is sublime. The Coliban Foodstore has so much delicious local produce and the antique stores are well worth visiting.
Do you have anything else you would like to tell us about your property?
We love our property and we love being able to share it with our guests as we believe such homes need to be lived in. We have always filled the home with family and friends and we want our guests to do the same. At the same time, we recognise that some people need ‘time out’, which is why we created 4 separate areas outdoors for chatting/eating/relaxing. We also created separate living areas to cater for different needs, and also take into account the different seasons. We are proud of the fact that we have kept a sense of a home in the property, with many personal items such as artwork and souvenirs. Although much thought has gone into the styling and decor of Aroona to give it elegance, it still has a warmth that comes from personal belongings.
The other aspect of Aroona which we love is the garden. When we renovated we also overhauled the garden, keeping favourites such as the splendid magnolia tree and the rhododendrons, but also establishing new hedges, a rose and silver birch garden, and camellia beds. We have had so much pleasure watching these develop, and each spring the profusion of tulips and daffodils are a delight.
Of course, the last word is the view! We always catch our breath when we have our first sight of the lake and beyond.
What Guests are Saying about Aroona
Beautiful place to stay. We had the most relaxing and amazing time. The fully equipped kitchen meant we could enjoy a cooked dinner party together. Can’t rave more highly about Aroona.
Hayley – June 2016
The property was wonderful, it is always a surprise when something exceeds what was expected. All our friends who stayed in other locations were envious of our house.
Karen – May 2015
Great feel to this place.excellent decor..all kitchen utensils..We loved it!!
Glenda – June 2016