Wombat Hill House
Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens (entry off Central Spring Rd), Daylesford, Vic
In 1860 the new borough of Daylesford asked the government for a piece of a paddock on top of Wombat Hill.
They wanted to create a botanic garden, known to be the symbol of civilised status as well as a good indicator of what plants and trees suited the district. More than 150 years later, Daylesford Botanic Gardens is now home to a different representative of the region: Wombat Hill House.
The cafe, garden and store is housed in what used to be the Garden Caretaker’s cottage. It was abandoned and run down until local food hero, Alla Wolf- Tasker and her husband Allan, took over the property in 2011. They renovated, equipping the building with everything it would need to become one of Daylesford’s best cafes and kitchen gardens.
Having established the internationally recognised Lake House in 1984 and collecting every award possible along the way, Alla and Allan were looking for a new venture to represent their passions: from a ‘house on the lake’ to a ‘house in the gardens’.
Wombat Hill House follows the same philosophy that Lake House is known for, offering seasonal food sourced locally and served in one of the region’s most picturesque locations. Inside, Allan’s stunning ‘enchanted forest mural’ covers the wall, evoking ideas of creativity and magic – given the gardens were a popular place for kids to make up stories of mythical creatures, it’s the perfect theme for the space. It’s also the inspiration behind the winged wombat symbol; after all, in a place as enchanting as Wombat Hill, what’s to stop a wombat from growing wings?
You’ll find lashings of magic on the menu, where produce from all over town is incorporated into a casual cafe offering. Much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs come from the north-facing kitchen garden, planted in late 2011. Here, you’ll find tomatoes, broad beans, salad leaves, herbs, olives, berries and more, depending on the season.
Sample the tomatoes in the Quick Brekky, a BLT in a Turkish roll, with two fried eggs, bacon, rocket, tomato, aioli and BBQ sauce. If it’s a light brunch you’re after, try the smoked ocean trout, served on crisp potato rosti with caramelised leeks, sour cream, minted peas and a poached egg.
Come noon, and the lunchtime hunger pangs can be conquered with the famous chicken and mushroom pie, accompanied by seasonal roasted vegetables. There are also pizzas on offer for those who don’t mind sharing. The caramelised onion, potato, rosemary, Meredith feta and mozzarella is so indulgent you won’t even realise it’s vegetarian.
If one meal just isn’t enough, turn to the store for daily picnic baskets and a range of produce for your fridge and pantry. This includes the Wolf in the Kitchen range, a selection of produce curated by Alla, which features a number of preserves, jams and pickles, made from produce grown in surrounding gardens.
Surrounded by luscious landscapes and basking in sunshine, Wombat Hill House is the perfect location for a unique Daylesford experience. Find a spot by the open fire to enjoy delicious and relaxed fare, made with the region’s best local produce. Just don’t forget to take some home!