If you told me a only a few years ago that my full-time work would involve being invited to experience some of the most beautiful places in Victoria, I’d have scratched my head, wondering how on earth to make that a reality. It’s now three years since the Ruby Assembly blog has been in existence, and last weekend’s exciting weekend away with fellow blogger-friends in Daylesford has been one of the best experiences I’ve had as a freelance writer. In a series of two blog pieces, I’ll be sharing with you my Daylesford journey featuring other Melbourne bloggers you might already love – namely Esme and the Laneway, Sarah from Style Melbourne, Leeyong from Style Wilderness and Sarah from Sarah’s Style Emporium. Many thanks to Daylesford Getaways for facilitating our experiences at Holly Lodge, the Bunker, Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat, The Mineral Spa and The Argus Dining Room.


M from Esme and the Laneway and I decided to car-buddy together up the freeway to Daylesford, meeting at Seven Seeds coffee to fit in a heart starter before the weekend’s festivities began. Boy, were we excited!! Daylesford is an excellent choice for a fun ladies’ weekend away or a romantic distraction, being only about an hour and a half. Driving over the Westgate Bridge and saying goodbye to our beloved city skyline, we knew holiday treats were on the agenda! M and I arrived to enjoy a stroll around the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens, which are beautiful European-style gardens. They were colorful with rhododendrons and drowsy with buzzy bees (as you can see from the starter image at the top of this blog), and home to Alla Wolf-Tasker’s casual cafe Wombat Hill House. Being thirsty kind of gals, we stopped in to enjoy refreshing blood orange spiders. Yes! You heard right! Delicious.


Cooling down with the help of Wombat Hill House’s ingenious Blood Orange Spiders, enjoying the lush gardens surrounding. M’s beautiful vintage bag sets everything off perfectly.


There was still a little time after our drinky to enjoy the gardens, where we sat and chatted. Living in the city, you can easily forget how quiet and calm the sound of the countryside is. We also posed for shameless, arthouse selfies 😀 Some of you may have experienced Ruby Assembly’s Daylesford adventures in real time if you like our official Facebook page or should you follow us on Instagram @iolantherubyslipper


After all that walking around lookin’ cute in the sun, M and I got kind of snacky. Lucky that our High Tea Under the Arches at Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat was right around the corner! Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat is a beautiful old-fashioned hotel which has undergone a luxurious modern renovation. We were kindly hosted by owners Chris Malden and Wayne Cross, who joined the gaggle of Melbourne writers as we enjoyed champagne, tea, dainty petit fours and scones-a-plenty under the arches of their elegant establishment. High Tea Under the Arches is served from 2-4 pm each Saturday and Sunday, bookings are essential. A perfect solution to Hen’s Days or relaxed celebrations with friends and family.


Left: Leeyong, Chris and Sarah relaxing over refreshing Spa Country Mineral Water. Right: Co-owner and developer extraordinaire, Wayne.


Chris and Wayne are also the entrepreneurs behind Daylesford Getaways, which is effectively a one-stop-shop for leasing beautiful Daylesford properties over weekends or holidays. We were lucky enough to enjoy staying in two of their residences over the duration of our stay. The array of homes is quite amazing, a bespoke collection of homes to wonder at. Click here to plan your next holiday via Daylesford Getaways.


The Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat hotel is set on sumptuous grounds, and includes a classic multi-bedroom residence you might recognise from Tourism Victoria television commercials called Villa Parma. The immaculately tended gardens make Villa Parma a wonderful setting for weddings or special events.



Sarah and M from Esme and the Laneway ready for a tour around the gardens of Villa Parma






Wayne and Chris, enjoying the fruits of their labour in the finely cared-for gardens. The Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat accommodation is only a quick walk to easy bushwalks, the original Hepburn Mineral Springs and quaint cafes. Incidentally, it’s the place that Mr. Ruby Assembly and I go every year for our anniversary too.Thanks for having us, guys!


After all that driving, lolling, eating, chatting and wandering in gardens like more stylish extras from Picnic on Hanging Rock, we drove to Holly Lodge. Here’s a group of us (photo taken by Sarah from Sarah’s Style Emporium) in the Tuscan-style courtyard of this exceptionally well-decorated and comfortable family residence. This image reminds me a bit of Dynasty. What do you think?
collage5Holly Lodge is lavishly furnished and features four bedrooms – each with its own ensuite yay! – which makes for comfortable accommodation if you want a not-so Meet The Fockers-ish weekend away with the extended family. Sarah and I shared a provincial style bedroom, replete with maps of Paris, an Eiffle tower and a rather winning helmet (which I couldn’t resist posing in, left).


The dining room was decorated with a large David Bromley piece, and a little bit of religious kitsch which I’m always heartened by. There is an additional alfresco dining area where a boisterous group of champagne-popping bloggers chatted long into the night, eating twice-baked gnocchi and chowing down on an array of chocolate treats from Daylesford Provenders. Topics of conversation included Gumbuya Park, and if we were the Spice Girls of bloggers – who might Old Spice be ? ;D



When Melbourne bloggers take over! Whilst at Holly Lodge, the collective five writers spent a good hour and a half taking photos of the little details that make Holly Lodge such a sumptuous residence.


Most of the bedrooms had their own private reading salons. This raspberry pink chaise and graphic Bally print would be the perfect place to pore through the latest Frankie Magazine and New Yorker, would it not?



Holly Lodge is surrounded by no less than four separate garden ‘rooms’ – this copse of trees was the perfect place for Leeyong and M to strike a pose. Or two. Can’t you just imagine picnicking here with your girlfriends on a lazy long weekend?



… and that’s the end of day one of our Ruby Assembly Daylesford Getaway! Tucked into the super-soft, giant bed – fragranced with some kind of delicious lime and lavender pillow spray – and reading a little of the Hunger Games (I know, I know…) I was one very contented little blogger. And to think the next day to come would feature more country walks, a spa pampering session and a delicious dining experience!

Make sure to subscribe (you’ll find the subscribe box in the right column) to the Ruby Assembly blog so you don’t miss the next installation in our Daylesford adventure.