Daylesford’s first town centre was a cluster of tents and shanties at Wombat Flat Diggings where John Egan of Corinella first discovered gold in August 1851. The tents and shanties were still there when the town was surveyed in 1854. But Governor Hotham wasn’t happy with the name Wombat and changed it to Daylesford a year later.
The Botanic Gardens have long been the pride of Daylesford. Established on the peak of Wombat Hill, an extinct volcanic cone, they were commenced in 1861 and their design enhanced in 1884 by the famous nurseryman, William Sangster.
One of the early features of the gardens was an elaborate fernery which gradually disappeared during a period of neglect in the 1950s and 60s. It was re-discovered by chance a few years ago and carefully excavated. The original paths were found to be intact under many years accumulation of soil and sediment and the fernery has been completely restored.
The gardens now cover nine hectares of parkland with some rare introduced trees and avenues. Although to some extent a pale reflection of their former glory, like the town, they are still beautiful and retain something of the grandeur which made ‘Taking the Waters’ at Daylesford and Hepburn Spa so appealing.
Lake Daylesford now occupies the old Wombat Flat diggings. When the gold was worked out, the Chinese established an extensive market garden on the site, with a Joss House, Chinese store and church nearby. As early as 1883 the Borough of Daylesford wanted to turn the spot into an ornamental lake, but this project didn’t get off the ground until 1927 when the Government agreed to contribute £1,000 towards the reserve for “Mineral Springs and Ornamental Lake for Recreation, Convenience and Amusement of the People.” The mineral springs referred to are located in the Central Springs Reserve, famous for its lively night life during Daylesford’s heyday.
Daylesford’s second ornamental lake, Jubilee Lake, was originally known as the ‘Hepburn Goldfields Reservoir’. It was constructed not long after the township was established to supply water to the local gold mines. At one stage the lake was emptied and the bed mined for gold. It was filled again and has been used mainly as a recreation area ever since.
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Lyonville Mineral Spring (or Picnic Area Spring) has two outlets; one from the base of a concrete trench, the other from a bore a few metres
Address: Lyonville Springs Road - Lyonville
Leitches (Wallaby) Creek Mineral Spring was found in the late 1860s in a large pool of water in a naturally swampy section of the creek.
Address: Leitches Creek Road - Daylesford
The spring was developed in a new bore next to a small rotunda located on the eastern or Suttons Lane side of Glenlyon Racecourse and Recrea
Address: Glenlyon Mineral Springs Reserve Malmsbury-Daylesford Road - Glenlyon