Wombat Hill House
Wombat Botanic Gardens, Daylesford, VIC
03 4373 0099
Barely a year old and winner of The Age Best Country Cheaps Eats Award, Daylesford’s latest attraction for foodies, Wombat Hill House was developed by the Wolf Tasker family of Lake House fame.
Converted from a rundown 1940s caretaker cottage, the café is located in the beautiful Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens on the site of an ancient extinct volcano. Large lawns and National Trust registered trees enfold multiple picnic areas, little paths meander through secluded ferneries, rhododendron and camellia plantings. A beautiful winding drive lined with majestic trees overlooks the village of Daylesford and affords views all the way to Mt Tarrengower. After completely gutting the building the Wolf Taskers tackled the project head on. Larissa took to the creation of the interiors, Alla and her kitchen team to the menus, the garden team of John Beetham and Tom Thornycroft to the vegetable garden and Allan to the artwork.
A beautiful smokey blue wall mural emerged complete with all manner of magical creatures including the winged wombat. “We wanted to draw on the mystery and fables of the location.” says Allan Larissa’s interiors include a warm, earthy jostle of mismatched country style furniture, shared tables and jewel like colours in fabrics, cushions and upholstered chairs. An enclosed pergola area is fronted by a bar – perfect for perching at for a cider, beer or wine- and furnished with breezy outdoor chairs and tables in red and green.
A wall of display shelves inside the café offers a little retail therapy with a range of house made preserves, furry wombats, a small hand picked selection of good food, garden and design books and other treasures A log fire warms guests on wintery days, rewarding those who’ve made their way through the hill top mists and even occasional snowfalls. “We wanted it to feel like a welcoming cottage people might come across during their rambles.” And so it has proved to be.
The café’s eclectic menu of comfort food includes breakfast, lunch and picnic fare. French toast, free range eggs and local bacon; house made granola, Moroccan pasties with labna and eggplant kasundi; giant toasted Reubens; delicious seasonal pizzas; grazing plates and healthy barley and quinoa salads. Regulars order picnic fare in advance and lunch boxes for kids. Freshly baked slices and puddings, great Allpress coffee, milkshakes made from ‘Jonesy’s’ milk and house made fruit syrups and a daily fresh pressed juice speak volumes about the produce used.
When the vegetable garden at Wombat Hill House has a glut of anything, – you’ll find it on sale. Together with windfalls from local gardens and even fresh eggs – if the local ‘girls’ are doing a lot of laying that is. Grab a paper bag and
help yourself. For keen gardeners, seedlings of heirloom vegetables from local organic farms are available. As the weather warms and daylight hours lengthen, the café often remains open for early evening snacking and drinks. The sweet country air, the dusk chorus of birds in the gardens as the sun sets over the village is quite something. A glass of great local wine in hand- some shaved local prosciutto and olives, crusty bread – the best of life’s simple pleasures are to be had here.
Special Wombat Club dinners and ‘friends and neighbours’ nights’ are always a sell out. Local musicians sometimes provide live music on weekends. The place bustles with locals and visitors. It’s always worth checking out the website for extended holiday hours and special events. Wombat Hill House is dog friendly so don’t leave your four legged family members at home. Breakfast at WHH ranges from $7-17 and lunch from $12-17.