Whether you're a monarchist or a republican, the popularity of TV shows like 'The Crown' has clearly highlighted our infatuation with the Royal family. A lot is happening with Megxit -it’s plastered all over the news - so we're going to share with you something different, and jump back a few generations to the venerable Queen Victoria. Her reign inarguably inspired generations of her citizens in ways never seen before - or since - including Britain's far-flung colonies. Neither Queen Victoria nor her husband, Prince Albert, ever visited Australia, let alone Daylesford. However, their cultural, political and economic influence was profound and is visible in Daylesford to this very day.

Alice's Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford
Every Friday at 1:45pm and every Saturday at 9:45am

Daisy from Alice’s Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford is constantly amazed by the stories, history (and ‘herstory’) in the living museum that is the town of Daylesford. Daisy’s years of studying economic history at the University of Melbourne in the 1980s, and recently researching the town and region in which she’s lived for the past twenty years, hadn’t quite prepared her for a trip down memory lane with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

“Once I started walking the streets and laneways, looking at the built environment with an historical lens, I started to see strong themes and stories I’d never considered. It was really exciting and profound. The Victorian era inspired design, creativity and beauty on a scale never seen before or since”.

Here are Daisy’s catalogue of just some of the ‘Victorian era signposts to history’ that you can easily pass by in Daylesford, without recognising their significance.


The gold exported to Britain as royalties from the gold rush in the 1850s paid off Britain's foreign debts. At the peak of the Victorian gold rush, some two tonnes (2000 kg) of gold per week flowed into the Victorian government Treasury. Examples of this wealth are evident in the disproportionate number of banks found in small towns.

Photograph (copy), Daylesford Fire Brigade First Ladder Carriage, c1867 (original) Note the first Victoria Bank Building on the left-hand street corner and the second on the right opposite the post office.


The Savings Bank of Victoria

The Savings Bank of Victoria was founded by Dr Thomas Black, a physician from the Richmond area of Melbourne. The Bank was registered in Victoria in 1852 by an Act of the Legislative Council, commencing operations in January 1853 as the Bank of Victoria Limited. Initially, at least 50% of all deposits were British owned. The Savings Bank of Victoria is now home to Koukla Café and Hotel Frangos in the main street of Daylesford. It's been home to many businesses over its 160+ year history, including the Coffee Palace and the infamous Belvedere Hotel.


The State Bank of Victoria

The State Bank of Victoria was an Australian bank (originally known as the Savings Bank of Port Phillip) until 1990, when the Commonwealth Bank took it over. By 1887 the Bank had 65 branches, all in Victoria. The Bank moved across the road to where Triggers' Antique Shop is now located.


The Victoria Hotel

The first iteration of this building, built as a timber structure in the 1850s, burnt down. It was rebuilt in 1904 as a double-storey building with Victorian-style balustrading from handmade locally kilned bricks. The building is situated in the centre of the main section of the Vincent Street shopping area, across the road from the Daylesford Town Hall.

The building is now home to a range of popular eateries, including The Larder. Take a closer look at the railing. Can you spot the 'suggestive' ironwork? Look for the interesting design feature on one of the doorways hinting it was once a well-known and established brothel.


The Queen Victoria Fountain

This monument is situated at the intersection outside Blake Family Grocers, now known as the 'Wills Square Memorial Fountain'. This three-tiered water fountain stands alongside one of the main roads leading into the centre of town, so it's not hard to miss. The fountain was originally built in 1902, following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. It was recast in the early 1990s, as it had fallen into poor condition.


Victoria Street

First named in the Daylesford town's official survey in 1854. It was renamed in the early 1900s as the town became known as a 'wellness destination', and tourists flocked in their thousands each weekend, many catching the trains from Melbourne and Ballarat, 'to take the waters'. Between the Midland Highway and East Street, the main section was renamed 'Central Springs Road'. This was a reference to nearby mineral water pumps. Drinking and bathing in the mineral waters, of which the region has more than 80% of Australia's reserves, was a huge visitation driver over a century ago.


The Albert Hotel on Albert Street

Named after Prince Albert, heritage-listed and built in the 1850s, it is one of the first of the 45 hotels constructed in Daylesford after the discovery of gold that changed the town and region forever. Now an elegant restored boutique accommodation site owned and restored by former Olympian Ziggy Kelevitz; royal insignia in the leadlight window above the front door hints at its orgins.


VR Postbox

Outside the former Raglan Hotel on the Corner of Camp and Raglan Streets, the post box, from the mid 1800s, is still is use today. For over 160 years, early settlers, visitors and residents stayed connected to friends and family the only way they could, through 'snail mail'.

VR stands for Victoria Regina; Regina is Latin for queen, denoting that Queen Victoria was monarch when the box was installed. The cipher is the easiest way to approximately date a post box as you can link it to the monarch on the throne at the time of casting and installation. This one has the cipher at the very top of the Post-box, in 3D.


Jubilee Lake

Jubilee Lake was built to supply water to the local gold mines during the 1860s. It was opened and officially named in 1887 on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It is now a picturesque place to visit, with a range of activities to suit everyone. You can stay onsite at the Jubilee Lake Holiday Park.


Victoria Park

Originally the site of the racecourse built in the 1860s, it morphed into Victoria Park around the time of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in the late 1890s.


Victoria Crushing Works

Located near the corner of Vincent and Raglan streets was the Victoria Crushing works, run by Matthew Jenkin still a well-known local name. The original house is still there on the corner.


Daylesford’s Florence Colles Cox – Wombat Park Estate

In 1897, William Stanbridge's (the founding father of Daylesford as we know it today) daughter Florence travelled to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London as a 19-year-old young woman from Daylesford. In the late 20th century, generations of young Australians embarked on this rite of passage, but in the late 1890s, this would have been a rarity and a pretty big deal. Florence Colles Cox and her husband built the Arts and Craft styled mansion at Wombat Park Estate, on land owned by her father William Stanbridge, opposite the Farmers Arms Hotel. You can see glimpses of this magnificent home from the midland highway from Daylesford to Castlemaine.


Alice's Journeys Walking Tours

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you will see and hear if you come on a walking tour with Alice's Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford.

There are two scheduled sessions each week. Every Friday at 1:45pm and every Saturday at 9:45am. If you'd like a private tour, other times can be arranged by request. Booking is easy and essential.

0455 519 111 or 1800 454 891


Written and compiled by Lynda (Daisy) Poke from Alice's Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford (June 2021),

With input from Les Pitt at the Daylesford Museum - author of Mud, Blood and Gold Daylesford the Early Years, self-published 2016, And with inspiration from Julia Baird, historian, broadcaster, journalist, political commentator, columnist, writer and author of Victoria The Queen, Harper Collins 2016.


About the author

alices journeys
Daisy Poke
Alice's Journeys Walking Tours | Website | More Articles

Daisy from Alice's Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford is constantly amazed by the stories, history (and ‘herstory’) in the living museum that is the town of Daylesford. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you will see and hear if you come on a walking tour with Alice's Journeys Walking Tours of Daylesford.

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