"One not only drinks wine,
one smells it, observes it,
tastes it, sips it and
one talks about it"

King Edward VII

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History of the Region

Daylesford and Hepburn Springs region was first settled - from Sydney - by Captain John Hepburn, a Scot who took up a run around Smeaton. He set up house with his wife and ten children as well as his cattle and sheep and encouraged further settlement. His run grew, he peppered the region with Scottish place names and he expanded his holdings and livestock.

The first discovery of gold in Clunes in 1851 quickly changed the nature and population of the district. Diggers from all over the world flooded in after their fortune. The largest national groups were the Chinese and the Swiss and Italians from northern Italy. A later discovery at what was known as the Jim Crow Diggings further expanded the population and two thriving communities grew up with the diggings round the present Daylesford eventually becoming Wombat. This name was disagreeable to the Sir Charles Hotham who renamed it "Daylesford" - apparently after the English birthplace of Warren Hastings (the first Governor-General of India).

What later became Hepburn (and Hepburn Springs) was initially known as the Spring Creek Diggings.

The region is located atop rock strata and volcanic basins. Waters trapped in these basins have slowly leached minerals from the 450 million year old rocks. The mineral water that emerged as springs was recognised by the Swiss Italians who stopped their destruction by the gold diggers.

When the gold petered out, many of the diggers stayed and made the region their home. Agriculture and forestry became the region's staples. At the end of the 19th century, a bathhouse was established in Hepburn Springs to promote and encourage the "taking of the waters" for their supposed medicinal and therapeutic properties. And thus began, the region's current focus as the "Spa Capital of Australia".

Prior to the arrival of the European settlement, the region was the lands of the Dja Dja Warrung people.

Link to Daylesford Historical Museum site www.daylesfordhistory.com.au

Read more on the region's Swiss Italian Heritage