December 13th, 2020Welcome to Dollywood
For Megan Gale – Australian mum, businesswoman, model, actress and brand ambassador, it’s all of the above and a little bit more.
“Shaun (Hampson) and I first came here in June 2013; this was before we were parents. We have always frequented the area because of how beautiful it is, the relaxing, slow-paced energy and being so close to nature. It definitely allows us to unwind that little bit more and absorb ourselves in just ‘being’ with our kids and taking in everything Daylesford and the surrounding areas have to offer,” she said.
So, when Megan and Shaun, parents to son River and daughter, Rosie, found out their favourite Daylesford holiday rental was on the market they jumped at the chance to buy it.
“It was such a beautiful bit of serendipity when Dollywood came on the market. It had become quite special to us over the past couple of years. We have stayed there a lot with our children and our mums and created some really beautiful memories there,” she said.
“When the previous owners (who we’d built up a bit of a rapport with) told us it was going on the market, we took it as a sign. It was a house we loved personally, already had a bit of a cult following, a ready-made brand that was beautifully curated and that we genuinely loved and wanted to keep alive.
“We respect so much about the house’s origins that there isn’t a lot that we will change. We are mainly freshening things up with some new art pieces and little décor touches here and there. I am a big believer of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” she said.
For some, highlighting the fact that a well-known (let’s be serious – international supermodel) might seem a tad hypocritical considering many choose the area to escape, Megan graciously accepted the invitation to share her story because of an underlying hope.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for all of us to visit our local regions and support them, not just after COVID but after the bushfires as well,” she said.
“I know and understand why people are itching to get overseas again, I am too. However, I think we really do need to support each other at the moment and help boost our economy here in Australia and we can do that by visiting communities like Daylesford. Holiday at home, buy local when you’re there and it will have a wonderful, flow-on effect. And plus, it feels damn good to know you’re helping to support a smaller community, so why wouldn’t you?” she said.
Like many women who live in and visit Daylesford, there is something grounding, peaceful and calming for Megan. Some believe it was a sacred indigenous site for women, others believe it is a combination of that and the natural springs.
For Megan, she certainly understands that feeling so many women experience.
“I absolutely do. Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and its surrounds has an energy about it that truly gives me a sense of peace and calm, resulting in groundedness. I really love walking around Lake Daylesford, it just feeds my soul. When I had to choose a location to shoot a campaign for my previous business Mindful Life, I immediately thought of and chose Daylesford. I wanted to have that calming, pure, lightness come through in the images and I knew that I would achieve that in this area,” she said.
While Megan and her family look to Daylesford as their private retreat from the fast-paced pressure of life and parenthood, Megan was happy to share her family’s favourite places as a shout-out to the businesses and locals who make Daylesford what it is.
“We always make at least one visit to the Mill Markets. The kids love exploring it and both Shaun and I share a love of vintage markets…the scones there are also out of this world. Date night at Sault Restaurant is always special and always a beautiful meal, as is lunch or dinner at The Lakehouse. Breakfast at Koukla, coffee at Larder and I do enjoy having a browse up and down Vincent Street shops,” she said.
“Shaun and I were just saying the other day that what’s even more exciting is that we know we haven’t even started to scratch the surface in terms of exploring the area and we cannot wait to experience as much of it as possible.”
Words: Narelle Groenhout | Images: Contributed