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Daylesford and Surrounds with Paul Bangay

Travel

For our travel column this month we return to the property and surrounds of a TDF Gardens favourite!

Our tour guide for this Daylesford area getaway is none other than leading landscape designer and author Paul Bangay.

Paul invited our photographer Caitlin Mills on a trip to some of his favourite spots in town. They also stopped off for lunch in Trentham, and for plants in Newbury!

24th August, 2017

Leading landscape designer and author Paul Bangay is our one-time tour guide! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul Bangay
Thursday 24th August 2017

‘The area is abundant with amazing restaurants, local produce and wineries… I can’t think of another area of Australia blessed in this way.’ – Paul Bangay.

I’ve always been obsessed with gardens, and in particular sprawling country gardens. I grew up in Vermont in Melbourne’s outer Eastern suburbs. We had access to a small farm next door where I had a horse, goats and a large vegetable garden.

After completing my Bachelor of applied Science in Horticulture at Melbourne University, I opened a nursery in Toorak and started taking on commissions to design gardens. Three decades on, I’ve authored eight books and I’ve got a team of 15 wonderful employees working out of our warehouse in Cremorne, Melbourne. Together we’ve been able to create thousands of special gardens for friends and clients.

My first home of my own was just off Greville Street in Prahran. It was very urban, but luckily had a large courtyard that I made into a small green oasis. I was able to garden in a small way, but it was never enough. I craved a large country garden in which I could garden and design on a large scale, hence my move to an old school house ‘St Ambrose Farm’ on two-acres in Woodend, an hour’s drive north west of Melbourne. It was a 120-year-old weatherboard home. It had character, but was totally unfriendly to human beings seeking heat in the cold winters of Woodend! I needed to expand the garden so looked for a property that was larger, more rural and had a good source of water… and then I found it!

For the past 11 years I’ve lived at Stonefields, a 100-acre property in Denver, just north-east of Daylesford. The climate here is perfect for me: mild summers with cool nights and freezing cold winters with some snow and frosts. I crave this kind of cool climate as it’s better for gardens, and there’s also nothing better than an open fire and a bottle of good red wine! The region is abundant with amazing restaurants, local produce and wineries… I can’t think of another area of Australia blessed in this way.

I recommend people visit our area for a great concentration of highly regarded food experiences, amazing accommodation, well-preserved gold fields towns blessed with wonderful architecture, great Botanical gardens and, of course, the lovely mild to cool weather.

Around this time of year, visit many of the restaurants with roaring fires and enjoy local wines. Then by Spring, there are lots of spring bulbs and blossoms appearing in the beautiful parks and many open gardens to tour. Summer is a great time for walks through the national parks and to see Trentham Falls, and in Autumn the tree colours are so incredibly intensified, thanks to our cool weather.

Paul Bangay’s Stonefields farmhouse and garden. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The 100-acre property is located in Denver, just north-east of Daylesford. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul designed both the exquisite gardens and home himself. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Activity

 Stonefields Garden Visit

The house and garden were created as a symbiotic process, as I was the designer for both it allowed a unique opportunity for the garden and home to be fully integrated; the colours, materials, layout, flow and visual site lines are all in harmony with each other.

Our seasonal guided tours provide visitors with an opportunity to have me guide them around the garden, explaning the planting and design process for each area.

The garden changes dramatically throughout the year due to its high seasonality, so there’s something special worth seeing!

Off Daylesford-Malmsbury Road, Denver.

Paul at Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens in Daylesford. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

A sculpture on display in the gardens. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul visits once per month, and especially likes to stop by in winter. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Nature • Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens

Established in c.1863, the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens were originally designed by the celebrated 19th century landscape designer William Sangster.

Including many rare trees, the gardens are a popular tourist attraction. They are seen as an important part of Victoria’s collection of 19th century regional Botanic Gardens and are therefore included on the state’s Heritage Register. You’ll also find picnic areas, amenities, a café and great views can be had from Pioneer Tower.

I visit at least once per month, to see the very diverse and rare collection of mature trees, there are even some on the National Register. I especially love stopping by in winter when Wombat Hill is often covered in mist, creating a very romantic feeling.

Fraser Street, Daylesford.
Open 24 hours.

Inside Cliffy’s Emporium. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul enjoys their egg breakfast every Saturday! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The cosy café, local produce and wine store is situated on Daylesford’s main street. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul loves the totally original and unpretentious atmosphere. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Cafe • Cliffy’s Emporium

Cliffy’s is a cosy cafe/restaurant, local produce and wine store situated on Daylesford’s main street.

I come by every Saturday morning for breakfast. Their eggs are sourced locally and served with seasonal local produce – my favourite is served with tomato salad!

The space is totally original and unpretentious and that is why we love country life!

30 Raglan Street, Daylesford.

‘There is so much to do and see in the Daylesford area; it’s worth staying and giving yourself more time to explore,’ advises Paul. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lake House Restaurant is one of Australia’s top establishments. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Situated on six acres of country gardens, Lake House borders the waters of Lake Daylesford, and also the Wombat State Forest. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lake House boasts 33 rooms and suites in waterfront and garden lodge settings. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Paul stops by a couple of times per year for a special and highly refined dining experience. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘If someone wants to be spoilt rotten then the Lake House is the place to stay, its view of the lake and the food make it a very unique experience,’ tells Paul. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Stay and Dine • Lake House

There is so much to do and see in the Daylesford area; it’s worth staying and giving yourself more time to explore, as well as enjoying some of the best food in Australia!

If someone wants to be spoilt rotten then the Lake House is the place to stay; its view and the food make it a very unique experience! Situated on six acres of country gardens, it borders the waters of Lake Daylesford, as well as the Wombat State Forest. There are 33 rooms and suites in waterfront and garden lodge settings, as well as the Salus Spa, the tennis courts and pavilion, the Argyle Library Bar, and also a lovely kitchen garden.

Then there’s the Lake House Restaurant. Lead by co-owner, culinary director and our friend Alla Wolf-Tasker, it’s celebrated as one of Australia’s top establishments. Head chef David Green’s ever-changing menu focuses on modern Australian cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and regional ingredients such as: spring lamb with asparagus and morels; duck with orange braised witlof; golden roasted free-range chicken with corn and yabbies.

Most of our local eateries are simple and very country but the Lake House is a fine dining experience, which you crave maybe once or twice a year! If we want a very special and highly refined dining experience here’s where we find it!

4 King Street, Daylesford.

Daylesford is just under a two-hour drive from Melbourne. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Owner and chef Annie Smithers of Du Fermier. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The Trentham restaurant offers classic French farmhouse cooking. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

‘We’ve also become great and look forward to our interaction with Annie every week; there’s always much local gossip and discussion about what we are about to eat!’ tells Paul. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The intimate establishment is extremely popular, so be sure to book well in advance of your trip! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Eatery • Du Fermier

Located in the heart of Trentham is restaurant Du Fermier. We have a regular Saturday lunch booking, which we rarely miss. Each time, owner and chef Annie Smithers and her small team prepare a new seasonal menu of garden-to-table meals.

This set menu means no choice is offered and we love that no decisions have to be made, we trust Annie and always love the surprises that we discover! Her food is honest and based on French Farmhouse cooking – what’s not to love about that!

We’ve also become great friends and look forward to our interaction with Annie every week; there’s always much local gossip and discussion about what we are about to eat!

The rustic, relaxed establishment is incredibly popular, so you’ll need to book ahead. It’s also worth noting that Annie will be taking an extended trip to France throughout September, so Castlemaine-based Italian restaurant Origini will be hosting pop-up, ‘la tavolata’ at Du Fermier during that time.

42 High Street, Trentham.
Open for lunch, from Friday to Monday.

‘I crave the mild and cool climate as it’s better for gardens, and there’s also nothing better than an open fire and a bottle of good red wine!’ says Paul. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Frogmore Gardens Plant Nursery is Paul go-to for interesting perennials. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The nursery is located en route from Daylesford to Melbourne (via Trentham). Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Shop 

 Frogmore Gardens Plant Nursery

This plant nursery is located en route from Daylesford to Melbourne (via Trentham). It specialises in rare and interesting perennials, so I love stopping by to discover new planting ideas for my own garden.

Last time I purchased some ornamental grasses for my pool flower borders.

The owner Jack is very informed and has a huge knowledge of perennial plants.

1560 Greendale Trentham Forest Road, Newbury.
Open everyday, except Monday.

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