‘Wealth’ can be admired all around the Daylesford Macedon region. The gold rush adorned our townships with the finest architecture of extraordinary detail and beauty.

Incredible wealth flowed, and no expense was spared. In many locations, landmarks have been preserved, and it’s well worth a trip to see the likes of Clunes, Maldon and Piper Street in Kyneton, where time has stood still, and 150 year old buildings line the streets. Fortunately, the diggers didn’t take all the riches (even the golden nuggety kind) when they left. The richness of our fertile soil, credited to three extinct volcanoes (Mount Franklin, Wombat Hill and Bald Hill) lives on, producing some of the best meat, vegetables, flowers and wine. Water fills the ancient layers of rock, absorbing the minerals and bringing them to the surface through our many water springs.  Our ‘liquid gold’ has long been regarded as invaluable for your body, mind and soul.

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Kyneton Mineral Springs. Photo: Narenna Bloomfield

Hepburn Springs Reserve

The first mineral spring found in the area was by Captain John S. Hepburn. He named this spring, near the Hepburn Pavilion, which you can visit at Hepburn Springs Reserve.  It is a short walk from Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa,where you can still bathe in the precious source.  Following Hepburn‘s discovery, mining commenced in the Argyle Gully Spring Creek Area, and the Soda, Sulphur and Wyuna Springs were revealed, followed later by Liberty, Golden and Argyle Mineral Springs. But the miners didn’t care for the springs, the gold fever had taken hold, and they were willing to demolish everything within their path. We owe a debt of gratitude to Swiss Italian migrants Dr Severino and Dr Rosetti who recognised the significance of these springs and rallied the support of their fellow countrymen (in the 1850s one-tenth of the population spoke Italian). As it panned out, this unity established the above-mentioned Hepburn Springs Reserve in 1865, the first of its kind in Victoria. Since this time, it has become a meeting place to ‘take in the waters’ and experience the benefits of calcium, silica, magnesium and an abundance of other minerals.

Vaughan Springs

It is easy to sit back and imagine Vaughan Reserve in the 1950s with families spread across the park on picnic blankets, occasionally darting to the Loddon River for a refreshing dip. It was a time before indoor pools, ipads and air conditioning. The grounds are equipped for the thousands that used to live in the area, before better roads, train tracks and bridges were built. There are BBQ’s, picnic tables, bike rides, walking tracks, camping facilities and a giant metal slide. Many an ill-prepared burnt bum has experienced this thrill in the summer heat. Centred in the reserve is a mineral spring pump that can generously provide for visitors. As you enter or leave, you can also discover the Chinese Cemetery, used between 1854 and 1857. It captures in time the role Chinese diggers played in the gold rush as they moved to areas like Vaughan Springs that were harder to dig but often worth the reward.

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Sailors Falls. Photo: Best of Daylesford

Kyneton Springs

A quick detour off the Calder Freeway between Bendigo and Melbourne to the Kyneton Mineral Springs is a tradition of many. The spring has been known in the area since 1887 and is still used by both locals and travellers. Nowadays you jump out of your car for a stretch and bring with you some bottles to capture the bubbly liquid from one of the two hand pumps. The experience is one of delicious fun, few know that some of Victoria’s favourite mineral water brands pipe from the same spring for their popular beverages. Capi, Kyneton Mineral Water and most recently 7 Springs all tap into the deep resource, making the region’s water available all over Australia.

Sailors Falls

It’s a strange name for a place, around 100km from Port Phillip Bay and the nearest ship, but Sailors Creek and Falls is believed to be named after the sailors who mined the area. On the edge of the dense Hepburn Regional Park, Sailors Falls features a picture-worthy waterfall, with a reliable flow in our wetter months: winter and spring. If you consider yourself handy with a camera, you are less than a minute from the spectacular Sault Restaurant. Make sure you book ahead to gain access to their lavender and sunflower fields. Or better yet, plan your next private event or wedding there. Their fields are best throughout summer, but they serve scrumptious meals from their produce gardens all year round.

Trentham Falls
Trentham Falls

Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve

The mineral spring pump at Taradale is in a very pretty spot. Once on the Calder Highway, it had a thoroughfare of traffic, but since being bypassed it has become a quiet, peaceful reserve. In recent times the kids play equipment has been modernised, and there is a jaw-dropping view of the Taradale viaduct. It’s a 33m wrought iron girder train bridge helping to connect Melbourne to country Victoria. For train bridge lovers, the Malmsbury Viaduct is 7 minutes south and is a feat of incredible stone engineering. A good time to visit is during the Taradale Mineral Springs Festival which is usually held on the long weekend in March, where stalls from local makers and growers surround the mineral pump in the shady reserve. Taradale is less than 15 minutes from the 165 year old Red Hill Hotel in Chewton, which made the 2020 Delicious Top 100 restaurants and is worth the short trip for a bite to eat and view more of our gold rush relics.

Leitches Creek Mineral Springs

The surroundings at Leitches Creek Mineral Springs looks very much like Fredrick McCubbin’s ‘The Pioneer’ painting, which coincidently painted on his property in Mount Macedon. It’s a peaceful nook of our beautiful region where tall trees of the Wombat Forest surround the mineral pump. It’s off the beaten track, but you could easily spend a day within 5 minutes of the pump at Trentham Falls, Daylesford Cider, Passing Clouds Vineyard, Lake House’s Dairy Flat Farm, Bullarto Art Gallery and Radio Springs Hotel. And if you time your visit right, you might catch an open garden day at Musk Farm.

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Wombat Flat Springs, Lake Daylesford. Photo: Best of Daylesford

Lake Daylesford 

The Daylesford Macedon region is home to over 80% of Australia’s natural mineral water, with dozens of pump locations dotted around the region, but some of the easiest to reach are at Lake Daylesford. They are called the Wombat Flat Spring and Central Springs. A great way to reach Central Springs is to park your car at the Boathouse and meander to one of the three pumps. If you feel like wandering further, Sutton Spring, Wagga Spring and Hard Hills Springs are all within 400m of Central Springs, along the Dry Diggings Track. The Wombat Flat Spring is short stroll and is best made after a delicious long lunch at the famed Lake Housealso situated on the lake’s edge. Three decades on and the Lake House is Australia’s most awarded country restaurant, hotel and day spa. Culinary Director Alla Wolf-Tasker AM has been a long believer of both our water and soils magical properties and the effects it has on our produce. Wolf-Tasker continues to share her knowledge and reinvent Lake House, always with a strong emphasis on seasonality and provenance.

Just like the region’s wines, mineral water is ‘nature’s champagne’ and develops its character from the land. Your love and appreciation of it also develops as you age, or so they say.  Each mineral spring offers its own fizz and flavour and the mineral content from these locations, and many others, will vary. There is usually a helpful sign near the pump, giving you a breakdown of your dose of wellness. Our tip is to drink your mineral water in one of our luxury accommodations and complete your wellbeing journey by booking a massage, facial and spa treatment.

About the author

narenna
Narenna Bloomfield, Daylesford Macedon Tourism
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Narenna is a country girl at heart, growing up on a dairy farm north of Bendigo. Now living in Kyneton, (her husband’s hometown) she is a busy mum of three littlies. She loves gardening, baking, photography and getting out and about in the area. A favourite day in the region would be a weekly shop at a farmers’ market, meandering through an open garden and finishing with a dinner in one of the acclaimed restaurants along Piper Street, Kyneton.