With sparkling eyes and searing intelligence, the highly acclaimed author and Clunes Booktown Founder, Tess Brady reveals those secret pleasure destinations that are not be missed.

Tess Brady

“My first and most obvious answer will be Clunes. 

The best way to experience this remarkable town is to walk the streets and not just view the impressive buildings, but it's to dig a little deeper and talk with the locals. It's vital if you want to get a feel for the town that you stop and say hello to people. It's when you start talking to people that stories bubble up and the unique streetscape comes alive with history. Don't forget to sit a while by Creswick Creek and you may come across a platypus. You'll need to be still and listen a while to experience that. 

Then there's Talbot and the Shelter or Maternity Tree.  The Dja Dja Wurrung women gave birth in this tree that is estimated to be about 700 years old. It is 15 metres in diameter and has a hollowed-out centre. It's an extraordinary and sacred place. From Talbot head towards Maryborough on the Ballarat- Maryborough road and about 1km along turn left into Pollacks Rd and you’ll find it!

Lambley Gardens and Nursery in Ascot is an absolute delight and you can wander for hours discovering bowers and blooms of beauty.  What I love about this place is that everything they sell is perfect for our climate. 

A real secret that my daughter and I uncovered was a memorial avenue of Walnut trees in the town of Tourello on the road from Ascot to Clunes. It's remarkable.”