With a population of just over 3,000, Daylesford might sound like a sleepy and conservative, but this little town is as a centre for “alternative lifestyles”.
Daylesford is a spa town. Aside from spa treatments, you can find reiki, aromatheraphy, reflexology, and other forms of alternative and spiritual healing. It has a thriving LGBTIQ community and a Pagan one as well. It has a fantastic shop called earthly rites, which offers workshops and tarot readings on top of an excellent selection of goods. There’s also an awesome 14-room bookshop called Paradise Bookshop that houses both new and second hand books as well as comics, magazines, and ephemera.
We spent most of our time in Daylesford visiting the Convent Gallery. It has its origins in the 1860s gold rush and was the private residence of the Gold Commissioner until the Catholic Church purchased it in the 1880s and made it the home of the local priest for the next ten years.
In 1892, the building became the Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School for Girls, home to the Sisters of the Presentation Order. Due to its difficult upkeep, it closed in the the 1970s and passed into the hands of the Daylesford community becoming a popular centre for community arts and education. In 1988, local artist Tina Banitska purchased the property.
Today the Convent houses eight art galleries. Parts of the original convent have been restored including the chapel, and there’s a museum dedicated to life there during the time of the nuns. There’s also a shop and two eateries – the Bad Habits Cafe and the Altar Bar & Lounge. The Convent hosts conferences and weddings and has accommodations. It’s beautiful and has a really lovely energy.