I was recently invited along on a weekend trip to Daylsford in Victoria, Australia and after visiting the Hanging Rock we made our way to the small town of Hepburn Springs. Hepburn Springs is a neighbouring town to Daylsford and was the location of our accommodation for our stay. The town is easy to reach, located just one hours pleasant drive north of Melbourne Airport.

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Strictly speaking Hepburn Springs is the twin towns of Hepburn and Hepburn Springs but given the similarity in their name frequently referred to simply as Hepburn Springs.  As the name suggests, the town is home to a number of spa and massage retreats and visitors can sample the local mineral waters. However, on tasting the rather odd tasting spring water at Daylsford I believe this is best treated as a once in a lifetime activity!

After checking in at our hotel for the trip, Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat ,it was time to visit the old Macaroni Factory just along the road from the hotel.

The Old Macaroni Factory was built in 1859 by Pietro Lucini a recent immigrant from northern Italy who left his homeland as he was on the loosing side of a group of Italians fighting a republican cause. Whilst originally Lucini was going to use the building as a bakery, he ultimately decided to make pasta to feed the Italian workers on the booming local gold mines. I learnt that in these early years macaroni was a generic term for all sorts of pasta, not just macaroni as we know it today.

The unassuming house is quite plain on the outside, but on taking the guided tour you can not help but be impressed by the unique frescoes that adorn the ceilings and walls telling the story of the Lucini family. Add to this, the informative tour by Lucini’s direct descendant, Maria Viola and the history is brought to life as you wander from room to room. Maria talks about her history with passion and is willing to share  fascinating photo’s dating right back to the start of her family’s history in Hepburn Springs.

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The creaky stairs, musty smell, antique furniture and partially restored frescoes create an atmospheric environment to go on a guided tour into the past. Add to this a cold winters day and a consistent down pouring of rain and the home cooked pasta meal by Maria herself is a more than welcome finale for the tour. Not least because it includes a sample of her famous ‘Pasta Maggiore’ an original family recipe that’s more than 150 years old. As we dine I ask Maria if the ghostly parties have been heard recently for I had read that in the past the sound of a mysterious party had been heard coming from the upstairs rooms. Fortunately for the present inhabitants the parties have subsided in recent years,

After the tour it was time to wind down after the travelling and tour and what better way than a visit to The Mineral Spa to enjoy the facilities on offer. With a steam room, infrared sauna, lavender-infused basalt stone sauna and a 37 degree mineral water spa and plunge pool there was enough options to keep me entertained and relax me in preparation for the day ahead in Daylesford.

About to enjoy pasta in the Fresco filled restaurant.

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Things to know

Hepburn Springs is approximately one hour north from Melbourne Airport

The Old Macaroni Factory is located at 64 Main Road, Hepburn Springs, VIC 3461 – Ask Maria about the ghostly party sounds heard from time to time coming from the upstairs bedroom! Historic one hour fresco tours are on Saturday and Sunday at 10.30 am $10 or by arrangement.

The Macaroni Factory is claimed to be Australia’s oldest Italian building.

Website: www.macaronifactory.com.au 

Don’t forget to pack your swimmers so you can enjoy the various spa’s.

It’s just a short 10 minute drive to the popular Daylsford.


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