Daylesford from Wombat Hill
|Elevation||616 m (2,021 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Hepburn|
|State/territory electorate(s)||Ballarat East|
Daylesford is a town located in the Shire of Hepburn, Victoria, Australia. It is a former goldmining town about 115 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. At the 2006 census, Daylesford had a population of 3,073. The Midland Highway runs through the town.
The broader area around the town, including Hepburn Springs to the north, is renowned for its natural spring mineral spas where visitors can sample the mineral water. This together with its proximity to Melbourne make it a popular destination for tourists.
Daylesford was founded in 1852 with the finding of alluvial gold in areas now occupied by Lake Daylesford. The area was initially called Wombat Flat. In 1854 Government Surveyor Fraser laid out a town site of 80 square chains and called it 'Wombat'. However it is believed that in 1855 Governor Hotham changed its name from Wombat to Daylesford after a small village in Worcester (now part of Gloucestershire) in England. The Post Office opened on 1 February 1858. A Telegraph Office was opened in August 1859. The railway was opened on 17 March 1880.
Market gardening was developed by Chinese immigrants who worked on the goldfields shortly after the town was founded, and a local flour mill was opened in the 1860s but closed down because the climate is too wet for effective grain production. Vegetable growing is still a significant industry, as the region has a good climate for the production of such vegetables as potatoes and is near enough to the large Melbourne market to provide a low-cost supply.
Due to it being located in mountains, formed by volcanic activity about five million years ago, the region contains as much as 80% of all the mineral springs in Victoria. Not long after settlement Daylesford had been noted for these mineral springs and from the 1880s to the 1920s the town was a major spa resort after the railway from Carlsruhe reached the town in 1880. Four separate areas, Wombat Flat, Daylesford, Old Racecourse and Spring Creek were gradually amalgamated into the town of Daylesford-Hepburn Springs.
Daylesford is a unique gold town in that it did not wither away like so many others when the easy payable gold ran out. Many sawmills had been established to supply the mines and these created employment for the out of work miners. The Land Acts of the 1860s enabled cheap land to be taken up and many miners became farmers on small areas.
The boom times of the 1860s when many of the notable structures in the town were built, the Post Office, the hotels, the Courthouse and Lockup, the Gold Commissioner's residence and Police Barracks, and the churches, gave way to a slump which lasted until the advent of railways in the 1880s. Mineral water was, from the 1860s, of great interest to the Swiss Italian and English inhabitants and this led to the establishment of a bottling plant and a bathhouse.
Through the endeavours of Donald McLeod, a self-educated man, who rose from being a miner to Town Clerk and in 1903 Minister for Mines in the Victorian Government, the Cornish Hill mines were deepened in the early 1900s and another boom period took place, which saw further development of the town. The Royal Hotel, the Commercial Hotel, the Belvedere, and other buildings in Vincent Street attest to this boom period, which was brought to a halt by the First World War.
The railways which brought tourists to the town was superseded by the car in the 1950s, and Daylesford once again entered a period of decline only truncated by a new interest in health and alternative lifestyle in the 1970s and 1980s.
Many groups from differing countries contributed to the early rise of Daylesford and Hepburn. The Irish at Eganstown were prominent in many fields, and also the French vintners at Glenlyon, the Germans at Rocky Lead the Italians at Old Racecourse, and the English, Scots, Welsh and Cornish in Daylesford itself. The now non-existent town of Dry Diggings was home to one of the largest groups of Welsh in Victoria and the congregation was large enough for them to have their own chapel, and for those who lived on the south side of Wombat Hill, a postal address of St Just would be enough to have mail delivered. St Just was a large town in Cornwall.
The Court House was a home away from home for the Irish as many of the early magistrates and lawyers were from the Emerald Isle. Joseph Henry Dunne, a lawyer, was one of the defense team at the Eureka riots trials, and magistrate James Daly, an Anglo-Irishman, was a gold warden in Ballarat at the time of the Eureka stockade.
Every St. Patricks Day and St Andrew's Day, the court would be closed to enable them to celebrate. One of the most prominent early councilors, George Jamison, was an American, as was the first Captain of the Fire Brigade, William Henshaw. Another prominent councilor was the Hungarian William Prohasky.
Although the Italians and Swiss in Spring Creek and Old Racecourse had an influence over their power base in the Yandoit-Franklin Road Board, the rise of Daylesford was driven entirely by men of English, Anglo-Irish, Cornish, Scottish and other origins.
Lake Daylesford, originally an idea by a Norwegian, Christian Christensen, to provide hydro-electric power to the town, was finally brought to fruition in 1929 by Councilor Trembath, a descendant of a Cornish miner. The Gas Company, which was formed in 1862, was the work of Henry Courtis, a man who had supplied gas to Castlemaine, Ballarat and other towns; nothing now remains of the gas works except the tiny cottage of the manager off Raglan Street towards the hospital. The hospital itself was an initiative by a group of two Englishmen, one Spaniard, a Dane, two Anglo-Irish, and a German Jew who first sat in committee in 1861. These men worked together amicably for a common cause until the hospital was opened in May 1862.
The spa resorts declined in the 1930s, but were redeveloped in the 1970s. Since then, Daylesford and all of the eastern Shire of Hepburn has become a major alternative lifestyle centre, with such services as massages, reiki, shiatsu, acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology, spiritual healing, and tarot reading being found.
The railway layout at Daylesford station was unusual in that the lines from Creswick and Carlsruhe both entered the station from the same end. The Daylesford Spa Country Railway currently operates a Sunday tourist service to Musk and Bullarto along the line towards Carlsruhe.
With 65 mineral springs, the Daylesford-Hepburn Springs region accounts for more than 80 per cent of Australia’s known mineral water springs. As a result, the region has a significant number of spa developments including Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, Mineral Spa at Peppers Springs Retreat and Salus Spa, Lake House.
- The Daylesford Spa Country Railway hosts a collection of heritage Victorian Railways railmotors.
- The Daylesford SUNDAY MARKET located at 18 Raglan Street (by the old railway station) from 8am to 1-4pm offers an excellent range of goods and farmers produce for sale.
- Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens.
- Central Mineral Springs Reserve
- Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve and Bathhouse
- Lake Daylesford
- Jubilee Lake
- Daylesford House a European flair cafe.
- Sister George Productions unique textiles studios
- Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm
- The Convent Gallery
- The nearby Wombat State Forest has many walking tracks.
- Boite Singers Festival, the Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival of Fine Music
- Lavandula's Lavender Harvest Festival in mid-January, Autumn Harvest Festival in early May and La Primavera salute to our Swiss Italian heritage 
- The ChillOut festival is held during the Labour Day long weekend in March each year and is the largest gay and lesbian festival in rural and regional Australia.
- Daylesford Highland Gathering and the Swiss Italian Festa.
The town has an Australian Rules football team competing in the Central Highlands Football League. Daylesford is also home to the Daylesford and Hepburn United Soccer Club also known as the Saints or the Sainters. The Saints have won four league titles in their short 20 year history and have also won two cup finals. The Daylesford Bowling Club, situated at the end of town on Camp St, offers lawn bowling for women and men during the spring, summer and autumn months.
At 616 metres above sea level, it has a cooler, wetter climate than Melbourne. Summer (January–February) temperatures range from 10 to 37 °C (50 to 99 °F), while July temperatures are cold, ranging from about 1–2 °C (34–36 °F) to 9 °C (48 °F). Annual precipitation, occasionally falling as snow, averages about 870 mm (34 in) but has ranged from 445 mm (17.5 in) to over 1,350 mm (53 in).
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Daylesford (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
- MacDonald, Janet; Garry Powell (2008). Double Gold: 1870's Mining and Farming Diaries. Windsor, Victoria: Prahran Mechanics Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-9804536-2-1.
- Freeman, Hugh H; GeoffT. White (2001). The Numeral Cancellations of Victoria. Melbourne: The Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria. ISBN 0-947345-16-7.
- Gibbs, Christine (1984). History of Postal Services in Victoria. Melbourne: Australia Post.
- Osborne, Murrell (1978). Timber, Spuds and Spa. Australian Railway Historical Society. ISBN 0-85849-023-4.
- "Victoria's Spa and Wellbeing Action Plan 2011". Tourism Victoria. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Tourism Victoria. "Lavandula Lavendar Harvest Festival". Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- Rachel Cook (25 February 2009). "Daylesford survives fire threat". Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Chris Gibson and Anna Stewart (2009). Reinventing rural places: The extent and impact of festivals in rural and regional Australia. ISBN 978-0-646-51505-2.
- Full Points Footy. "Daylesford". Retrieved 2008-07-25[dead link]
Daylesford Advocate, Mercury, Express, Mercury-Express. 1859-1870
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