Local History Facts

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All About Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs have some very interesting history facts because they are in the goldfields region and surrounded by many other towns that also had been discovered and built because gold had been found many years ago.

The Daylesford area has a spectacular history with many buildings, monuments, the mineral springs, lakes, gardens discovered or built in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Today many of these historic buildings are still standing and are proudly preserved for us to enjoy and marvel at the architecture. Many of the buildings are influenced by Swiss-Italian design as many of the early gold miners were from Ticino region in Switzerland.

History Facts From Discovery to the 1860s

  • The region has eighty percent of all the mineral springs in Victoria.
  • The mineral springs were formed about 5 million years ago by volcanic activity.
  • Indigenous Australians were the first to discover the area.
  • In 1838 Captain John Hepburn was the first European to settle.
  • Gold was first discovered in 1851 where Lake Daylesford is now.
  • During the gold rush many Swiss and Italian people lived in the area.
  • Many of the historic buildings built in the gold rush have a distinct European influence.
  • In 1859 Daylesford became a municipality.
  • The ‘Convent’ was built in the 1860s for a private residence, later it was purchased by the Catholic Church and more recently has been transformed into the Convent Gallery.
  • The search for gold was finished in the 1860s.

From the 1860s to the 1900s History Facts

  • In 1863 the first trees were planted in the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens.
  • The mineral springs popularity was increasing as the word spread.
  • In 1880 a railway was built which allowed many more people to discover the area and the mineral springs.
  • From 1880 to the 1920s the area was extremely popular and visitors travelled for long distances.
  • The towns of Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs were created from four areas named Old Racecourse, Spring Creek, Daylesford and Wombat Flat.
  • The courthouse was built in the 1860s.
  • The post office was built in 1867, it is an Italian influenced design with a majestic clock tower.
  • The original building of the primary school was built in 1874.
  • In 1882 the majestic town hall was built in the centre of the main street.
  • The Hepburn Bathhouse was built in the 1890s, since then it has been upgraded and improved several times.
  • The School of Mines building was built in 1890, the building is now used by the Daylesford Museum which is a treasure trove of local history.

From the 1900s and Beyond History Facts

  • The first movie theatre was built in 1914 in the Alpha Hall Galleria, the Clayfire Gallery is now in the same building at 63 Vincent Street.
  • The heritage-listed ‘Palais’ in the Main Road of Hepburn Springs was built in 1926.
  • The stunning Lake Daylesford was built in 1929 which is in the Central Springs Reserve.
  • In the 1930s the popularity of the area declined mainly due to the wars.
  • In the 1950s the railway was superseded, as the car was fast becoming the main way to travel.
  • In the 1970s a push for a more healthy and alternative lifestyle once again created interest in the region.
  • Since then the number of visitors has increased every year to the amazing number of people visit every weekend in the Daylesford and Hepburn area.
  • The population for Hepburn Springs and Daylesford is normally about 3600 that number can double or triple on really busy weekends.

The majestic Daylesford Town Hall is in Vincent Stret

The Daylesford Town Hall was built in 1882 by George Johnson, an architect who emigrated to Australia from England in the mid 1860s with his new wife. His designs were classical and many are still standing today including the Town Hall at Kilmore, Collingwood, North Melbourne and Maryborough.

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs Historical Photos Video

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs and surrounding towns in the region have many history facts that are very interesting as they have all come a long way from being towns with dirt streets with horse and carts being the main mode of transport.

Some of the buildings have changed owners many times but most of them have been kept very similar to the way they were with a coat of paint, new signage or a verandah removed or added. For example a great history fact is the Pantechnicon Gallery in Vincent Street was originally used for selling livestock, then it was a mechanics workshop prior to being purchased by the current owners of the gallery.

For more information and displays of the Daylesford areas history visit the Daylesford Museum at 100 Vincent Street or visit the website for the

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