Historic Aussie spa reopens after four-year renovation

The historic Hepburn House in Hepburn Springs, Victoria has reopened, Australia, following a four-year, AU$13million renovation.The 1895 bathhouse has doubled in size with the addition of a completely new building. The original bathhouse has been converted as the treatment area, or Spa House. It maintains its original structure boasting16 wet rooms, 14 dry rooms and 30 private treatment rooms which overlook the lush surrounding vegetation that surrounds the centre.

The new complex houses the new bathhouse, and contains 3 pools, a steam room, a special relaxation deck and specialty monsoon showers that has been described as looking like an old fashioned toilet cistern with a chain - the idea being that you warm yourself up to a toasty 35 degrees in the pool below and then pull the chain above you, releasing the cooling water from the “cistern” above.

Also in the bathhouse are the 1940 spa couches, which to the untrained eyes seem more like a torture devise than the pleasurable relaxation experience the name seems to offer. Uninviting steel racks and pinions protrude form the structure like something from another century however once they are positioned under you with the jets pointed against those areas of built up tension and the name makes sense again.

The design of this new complex is brave and bold, paying homage to Victoria architecture with its use of block building and bluestone, granite and wood. Inside is angular with geometric shapes, clean lines and empty spaces making it feel spacious and calm. Perhaps the bravest aspect of the whole structure though is the unisex changing rooms which manage to contain its modesty with individual changing rooms and male female toilets.

The real luxury of the place comes in the form of the 12 private bathrooms that each contain a concrete block with a bath carved out of it. Although initially this may seem hard and cold each one has been molded for pure comfort and when you have one filled with warm steamy water with a few drops of your chosen essential oils put in you won’t ever want to leave.

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General manager Kim Whitehouse encourages people to visit both complexes: “You could come straight to the Spa,” she says. “But you would be missing out on a lot of fun. The Bathhouse and the ‘taking of the waters’ are central to the experience here. Traditional bathhouses were communal, with the social aspect deemed to be as important as any medicinal benefit from the waters. This holds in the new Bathhouse”.

She recommends allowing yourself a good two hours to relax and unwind in the stress free environment and spending time in the 15m relaxation pool, pure mineral spa pools or perhaps in the sal*censored*er floatation pool is hardly a chore and being the only spa in Australia to have pure natural mineral water on tap, all other have liquid gold water driven in. It is truly a unique place.
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