Image: Central Springs Reserve in Daylesford.
Almost all of Australia's mineral springs occur in Victoria and most are in the Central Highlands, concentrated mainly around Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.
The story of their discovery in Victoria is intertwined with the age of squatters, the discovery and mining of gold and the formation of a new state.
Listed below are the springs within Hepburn Shire. Some are looked after by several land managers including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria and Council.
Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve
Soda, Locarno, Sulphur and Wyuna Springs are located within the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve. Captain John Hepburn, John Gardiner and several convict servants left Sydney in search of holdings in the Port Phillip district and ended up taking a large ‘run’ at the southern slopes of Mt Kooroocheang. It is not entirely sure when Hepburn stumbled across the spring but in 1851 he supposedly requested the Government Analyst to test the water for mineral properties. The resulting test established the water was ‘of great medicinal benefit in Hepatic, gouty rheumatic and similar afflictions’.
Central Springs Reserve, Lake Daylesford
Hard Hills Spring, Wagga Spring and Sutton Spring are located in the Central Springs Reserve at the Southern end of Lake Daylesford. The 3 pumps were installed in the late 1920s.
Hard Hills Spring
Discovered in the 1860s by Mr Neil Leggatt, a storekeeper and gold buyer. This is a deep piped trench with two outlets.
Believed to have been discovered during alluvial gold mining operations along the Wombat Creek in the 1850s, however it cannot be found on tourist maps of the early 1900s. The present concrete pit and steps were installed in the early 1950s.
Discovered in the early 1890s by Thomas Sutton’s two sons whilst sluicing for gold. By 1900, a limestone-lined trench had been created, steps cut and a horizontal pipe driven into the ‘eye’ of the spring.
Wombat Flat Spring
Situated on the shore of Lake Daylesford, Wombat Flat is only a short walk or drive from the town centre. Surrounded by shady trees, grassy banks and inquisitive geese, Wombat Flat Spring is a great spot for a picnic.
Jubilee Lake Mineral Spring
Just minutes by car from the town centre of Daylesford, Jubilee Lake is quiet and relaxing tto visit.
Glenlyon Mineral Spring
The Glenlyon Mineral Spring adjoins the Glenlyon Recreation Reserve. A lovely spot to 'take the waters', have a picnic and take a walk along the river. There is ample parking, picnic tables and chairs. At the adjoining recreation reserve, there are public toilets and access to a BBQ.
Woolnoughs Crossing Mineral Spring
Surrounded by decorative stones, this secluded tap is set right alongside Kangaroo Creek in Glenlyon and is accompanied by a picnic table and an information sign.
Leitches Creek Mineral Spring
This little patch of land is home to two mineral springs near Musk, one with a hand pump, the other a free-flowing pipe.
The creek side reserve is surrounded by forest and farmland and is lovely for a picnic and to taste of the mineral water.
The discovery of Victoria’s mineral water springs dates back to before gold was discovered. In 1836 Captain Hepburn found the Hepburn Mineral Spring and, late in 1847, John Egan found Deep Creek Mineral Spring. During the gold rush, many natural mineral springs were discovered as creeks and river beds were worked over, mine shafts were sunk and surface areas were sluiced. As demand for timber grew, timber workers also discovered springs in stream beds. The mineral water would have been a refreshing change from the often-polluted stream water and, when food was scarce, was mixed with fruit juice to keep hunger at bay. By the end of the 20th century, gold mining started to decline but demand for mineral water increased as the public discovered its therapeutic value. This led to an increase in guest houses. Daylesford and Hepburn Springs became very popular as a health and holiday resort, becoming more accessible when the railway was built in 1880.