Pleasant town famous for its spring water
Hepburn Springs is a delightful and relaxing
resort town with a pleasant environment,
mountain scenery, forestry and numerous parks
and recreation areas. It is situated on a ridge
which is over 600 m above sea-level. The town is
114 km north-west of Melbourne and 48 km
north-east of Ballarat.
Prior to European settlement the area is
thought to have been occupied by the Djadja
Wurrung Aborigines. The town is named after
Captain Hepburn who passed through the area
during an overland trip from Sydney to Port
Phillip in 1836-37. Impressed with what he saw
he took up land here in 1838.
Alluvial gold was found on the townsite in
December 1851. Thousands arrived the following
year at the 'Jim Crow Diggings' and a town began
to accrete. As the alluvial gold ran out, a new
camp, with many Chinese diggers, was established
at Breakneck Gorge in 1859.
At the peak of the goldrush there were many
Italians and Swiss living here and their
influence on the gardens and architecture has
been profound; bestowing upon the town a
European feel. Moreover, the prosperity of the
gold days has left a legacy of substantial
buildings (and abandoned mineshafts), including
some guesthouses which display paraphernalia
associated with the town's early days.
However, the town is best-known for the
odourless, effervescent mineral water which
emanates from its many springs (hand pumps are
scattered around town, dispensing the water free
of charge). This natural resource was discovered
during the goldmining of the 1850s, although the
mullock heaps which emerged from the goldmining
activity curtailed the flow of some springs.
This led to the formation of a committee in 1868
which cleared up the site. The dual attraction
of the waters and the picturesque setting saw
the town became a fashionable spa resort,
particularly when the railway arrived in 1881.
Local residents offered visitor accommodation
while guesthouses, bungalows, luxury hotels with
orchestras and formal dinners, ballrooms,
theatres, pavilions and baths emerged to service
The resort fell out of favour in the Great
Depression. However, since the early 1980s
interest in the town and the local waters have
revived. Consequently, the spa complex has been
restored and extended and it is now visited each
year by thousands of people from a great range
of social backgrounds.
In conjunction with the adjacent town of
Daylesford, with which it is closely
interconnected by urban sprawl (combined
population: 5500), Hepburn Springs is known as
the 'Spa Centre of Australia' with 50 % of the
country's known and active mineral water outlets
and another 30 % located nearby.
There are a number of annual events
associated with Hepburn Springs-Daylesford. The
main festival is the Swiss-Italian Festa; a
celebration of the town's Swiss-Italian heritage
which is held on the last weekend in May. The
Opera By The Lake Festival is held in February
while Chill Out, a gay-lesbian event, is held on
the weekend after the long weekend in March.
There is an arts-and-crafts festival on the
weekend after Easter, the Begonia Festival is
held at Daylesford in March, the Midwinter
Festival throughout July, the Agricultural Show
on the last Saturday in November and the
Daylesford Highland Gathering takes place on the
first weekend of December. The New Year's Eve
Gala is also a major local event.
Things to see:
The Dayleford Visitors' Centre is located next
to the post office in Vincent St, Daylesford,
and is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. daily,
tel: (03) 5348 1339.
Jacksons Lookout Tower
This lookout, on Forest Ave, offers panoramic
views of the town and area.
The Blowhole was created in the 1850s when
goldminers used dynamite to create a tunnel
through a quartz reef in order to divert
Sailor's Creek. This enabled them to scour the
old creek bed for alluvial gold. The Blowhole is
located along a side road which heads off
Blowhole Rd and it is also on the Tipperary
Walking Track (see below). It looks quite
impressive when the creek is flowing strongly.
There is a short loop walk around The Blowhole
and an explanatory plaque.
Hepburn Springs Spa Complex
The spa complex is located off Mineral Springs
Crescent in Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve. It
is built around an Edwardian pavilion which has
been greatly extended with sympathetic additions
in the last decade. Every kind of hydrotherapy
imaginable is on offer. There are also massage
therapies and beauty therapy for every inch of
your body, tel: (03) 5348 2034. The complex
opens from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. on weekends
and from 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. on weekdays.
There are innumerable businesses and
individuals in town offering every kind of
massage known to humanity, as well as reiki,
shiatsu, acupuncture, aromatherapy, refloxology,
spiritual healing, readings etc. They are listed
in a brochure available from the Daylesford
Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve
The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is really
the focal point of the town . It is located atop
rock strata and volcanic basins formed by three
extinct volcanoes. Waters, trapped in these
basins, have slowly leached minerals from
450-million-year-old rocks: minerals which are
believed to have a curative effect. The
reserve's four major springs are Locarno,
Sulphur, Soda and Wyuna.
The attractive park-like grounds are
well-established and well-maintained with picnic
and playground facilities, toilets, shady trees
and an abundance of bird and animal life. Hand
pumps and continuous-flow pipes are scattered
about and you can bottle or drink your own water
free of charge. Mountain bikes can be hired from
the Pavillion Cafe. They are ideal for exploring
the area's old mining and logging tracks.
A number of signposted walks fan out from the
reserve: to Hepburn Reservoir (5 km return),
Jacksons Lookout Tower (2 km return) and Argyle
Spring (2.8 km return). The latter can be
started from the reserve carpark or from Wyuna
The major walking trail, however, is the
Tipperary Walking Track which explores Hepburn
Regional Park. It is quite an easy-going and
well-signposted course which is partially built
on old water races from the goldmining era. 16.7
km in all, it can be broken into shorter
(1) From the reserve to Golden Spring (at the
end of Golden Springs Ave) via Jacksons Lookout
Tower (2.8 km).
(2) From Golden Spring, following Spring
Creek past Liberty Spring to Breakneck Gorge
from whence there are excellent views and plenty
of rosellas (2.2 km).
(3) Cross the Newstead Rd bridge over the
gorge and follow the southbound course of
Sailor's Creek to The Blowhole (3.1 km).
(4) Follow the signs and cross the bridge to
Bryce's Flat Picnic Area (1.7 km).
(5) There are two tracks (one on either bank
of Sailor's Creek) south to Tipperary Spring
(3.3 km). The spring itself is located near the
footbridge. Panning for gold and garnets is
(6) You can again follow either bank south to
Twin Bridges picnic area (2.3 km).
(7) Cross the highway, follow Wombat Creek,
try the waters at Sutton, Hardhills and Central
Springs and finish at Lake Daylesford (1.3 km).
Old Macaroni Factory
The old macaroni factory is a large hand-made
brick structure on Main Rd which was erected in
1859 by Italian immigrants, the Lucinis. It
reflects the architectural traditions of
Northern Italy. The facade is plastered and
without decoration although the ceilings of the
wings feature hand-painted decorations added by
the Lucinis. The factory is being restored as
funds become available. At the moment it is only
open on special occasions, such as the
The town has a number of fine old guesthouses
which are of substantial architectural quality
and some historic interest. Main Rd has Villa
Parma, Bellinzona Country House, Dudley House,
Mooltan Guesthouse and The Springs Hotel. The
Liberty Guesthouse is on Mineral Springs
Crescent, opposite the spa complex. The old post
office (1863-1964) is also a bed-and-breakfast.
Lavandula Lavender Farm
If you follow the Hepburn-Newstead Rd north for
5.2 km you will come to Lavandula Lavender Farm
at Shepherds Flat. The lavender is best seen in
summer. The Swiss-Italian heritage is reflected
in the 1850s stone farm buildings, dry stone
walling, cobbled courtyard, lombardy poplars and
the herb, cottage and potager gardens. There are
fine views, llamas and farm animals, a licensed
trattoria and a shop selling lavender products
and other items. The Lavender Harvest Festival
on January 10, 1999 features folk singing,
dancing, wine tasting and local stalls. The
admission fee is minimal. Opening hours are
10.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. every day but Tuesday
from September to May and on weekends only in
June, tel: (03) 5476 4393.
The Boomerang Holiday Ranch, 1 km west of
Daylesford on Tipperary Springs Rd, offers
accommodation and one-hour trail rides in the
local forests, tel: (03) 5348 2525. There is
also Turner's Horse Farm at Guildford, tel: (03)