The reason Daylesford is so busy is because it works at it. There are frequent high quality festivals and marketing campaigns aimed at the Melbourne market. If you visit this town you will find the accommodation, shopping and dining very good quality. It is a very busy town so book in advance for your accommodation and dining to make sure you get what you want. Daylesford has two Lakes being the Daylesford Lake and Lake Jubilee with both offering picnic facilities and paddle boats or canoes if you like going on the water. Due to the depth and cold waters they are unsuitable for swimming. Daylesford attractions include the Convent Gallery, Lavandula and the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. Daylesford offers luxurious dining with views of the lake, specialty shops galore and accommodation from budget to luxury. It is a suitable destination all year round and a great spot to take a trip just for the day.
The Djadja Wurrung Aborigines are believed to be the original inhabitants of the region with European settlers arriving in the late 1830’s led by Captain John Hepburn (that’s why it’s Hepburn Springs and the Hepburn Shire). By the late 1840’s John Egan took an area of land on Wombat Flat where the township now resides. Interestingly Wombat Hill is the main hill with the botanical gardens in the centre of the town. Egan and others discovered alluvial gold in 1851 where Lake Daylesford now is, well before they dug a huge hole. This caused a goldrush in the area and a population explosion with around three hundred gold diggers by the following year. By the mid 1850’s the townsite was surveyed and named Wombat. . Sir Charles Hotham renamed the town after the English birthplace of Warren Hastings who was the first governor-general of India and Daylesford was born.
Lake Jubilee was originally constructed in the 1800’s for domestic water (including supplying the goldfields) it is fed by springs and creeks. They are now talking of using it again. Great place to take the whole family.
Daylesford Lake is man made having been originally gold diggings followed by extensive Chinese Market Gardens with their own village, Joss House and store. In 1883 it was discussed to turn the area into a lake and construction began in 1927.
By the end of the decade nearly three and a half thousand diggers were gold mining, with nearly 800 Chinese sticking to alluvial workings. The Chinese planted market gardens and had their own village with a Joss House and store (where the Daylesford Lake now resides).
Daylesford became a municipality and a borough several years later followed by local agriculture in the 1860s to meet the demand. This included the opening of a flour mill (could do with one now for all the bakeries).
Alluvial gold was pretty much wiped out by the end of the 1860’s and the miners changed over to quartz reef mining right up to the 1830s. As the mining waned, the interest in the health giving mineral waters grew with the town also being used as a retreat for the Melbourne wealthy. The Great Depression took away Daylesford’s market until the 1980s when interest in the town began to grow quickly.
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