A century and a half ago, thousands of fortune finders from around the world made their way to Central Victoria’s goldfields in the hope of unearthing enough precious metal to change their lives. Today, people travel from much closer to home in search of a different treasure.

For some, it’s a weekend away. For others, it’s a tree change – a conscious decision to find the value in a slower, more cadenced existence in this simply glorious region.

When we moved to Daylesford a year ago, we knew we would be surrounded by natural springs, forests and an eclectic and welcoming community. What I quickly discovered was the region was a haven for my lifelong passion of anything pre-loved.

As well as discovering an amazing community, I found my ‘Gumboots and Pearls’ dream of op-shops, bazaars and second-hand shops that reveal unique treasures that are given a second chance to be admired and valued.

My first foray into unearthing treasures to ‘love once again’ was the Daylesford Bazaar on Vincent Street. Run by a passionate group of locals, the Bazaar is replete with amazing antique furniture, vintage haberdashery and kitchenware reminiscent of Nana’s kitchen. My own finds include unique wicker baskets, a five-foot-long day bed and some crazy wall art that has lifted the verandah on our old farmhouse to a new level. Affordable, quirky and classy, the Bazaar is the local go-to for people looking for something unique to add a touch of old school charm to their lives.

The Amazing Mill Markets in Daylesford are quite rightly famous. While locals have the advantage of wandering in anytime, for visitors there are a few tricks to add to the experience. Firstly, wear comfy shoes and prepare for a sensory experience, with stall after stall of unexpected discoveries. Secondly, look up to find a glorious mix of old, rusty, quirky and romantic in the little pearls that hang from the ceilings.

Speaking of mills, the Castlemaine Vintage Bazaar is another happy place for eclectic vintage magnificence at the old woollen mill. There is a lot of stuff; 2000 square metres plays host to clever makers and collectors. Within their individual stalls can be found homewares, knick-knacks, and of course many a wigwam for a goose’s bridle. You’re sure to find that exact thing you didn’t know you needed. When you’ve finished browsing, visit their next-door neighbours to recharge on your fuel of choice – coffee, choccies, cheese, beer, pastries, wine.

A favourite part of any week is popping into the local Daylesford op-shops where you’ll find amazing staff, bric-a-brac, old books and quality antique furniture like our unique 1930s art-nouveau style buffet. I’m still working my way across the op-shops in neighbouring towns. Castlemaine’s MAAW op-shop was surprisingly more like a beautifully appointed antique store.

For me, the real gold in my new home is to be found in the traces of history left by the people who have travelled here before me and every now and then I unearth a different kind of nugget that reminds how delightful this region really is.

About the author

Narelle Groenhout
Narelle Groenhout
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Narelle is a proud tree-changer who only a year or so ago, with her family, swapped suburban Melbourne life and a corporate communications role to fulfil her dream to raise her children in the country and live in a connected and compassionate community. Narelle feels like she has found her community in Daylesford and the surrounding region. Moving from a quarter-acre block on a busy road to an old farmhouse on a two and half acre piece of paradise, bordered on one side by a spring fed creek and the other by majestic eucalypt forest, Narelle has found the life she was looking for, spending her days gardening, entertaining friends and family and writing stories about the remarkable people she has met in her new community, along with trawling the local op-shops, markets, second-hand and tip shops for new treasures.

Chris Turner
Photography by Chris Turner
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Living and working in the Daylesford Hepburn region for five years now, this place and its people are special. It’s residents are truely the essence of what separates this region from others. The creators, the artists, chefs, furniture makers, entrepreneurs and the beautiful surrounds have inspired me to create some of my best photography work.