Communication was essential so the first two facilities to open were the post office, in 1858, and the telegraph office, the very next year. A flour mill was opened in 1863, reflecting the increasing importance of local agriculture.
Italian immigrant Fabrizzio Crippa was attracted to the area in 1855. Crippa quickly established himself as a butcher, and then a viticulturalist. And by 1864 Crippa built his gracious residence on the coach road to Castlemaine, surrounded by vines. The two-storey rendered brick building with dark stone trim, Villa Parma, reminded the lucky emigrant of an Italian renaissance palazzo.
Lavandula is a piece of sandstone rustica, a group of farm buildings constructed by Italians from southern Switzerland who came to look for gold and stayed to farm. The farmhouse is open for viewing each afternoon and gives an immediate sense of Italian rural life in 1860s Victoria. The house and gardens were recently restored.
There was a building boom in Daylesford throughout the 1860s when many of the town’s most beautiful and enduring structures were built: the Post Office, courthouse and lockup, Gold Commissioner's residence and police barracks, and nearly as many churches as hotels. Dozens of hotels! For example The Daylesford Hotel had originally been built in the early gold rush days of the 1850s and was one of Daylesford’s first licensed establishments. The present building was rebuilt in 1913 and today this huge hotel retains many of its 1900s features. The very impressive primary school was built and opened in 1874, and the beautiful town hall was built in 1882.
When the surface gold ran out, the old sawmills that had been established to supply the mines suddenly created employment for the ex-miners who would have otherwise had to leave.
Not long after settlement, Daylesford became been noted for health giving mineral springs and fresh mountain air, and smart men realised the need for a bottling plant and a bathhouse. Once the railway from Carlsruhe reached the town in 1880, Daylesford became the centre of a major spa resort. Hepburn Springs, only 6 ks away, drew holiday-makers and health seekers, right up and into the Inter-War period. Daylesford and surrounds account for a very large proportion of Australia’s spas. Bathe, an Australian blog dedicated to the whole bathing experience, naturally has many posts that mention Daylesford.
The Catholic Church purchased the 1860s home of the Gold Commissioner in the 1880s for its presbytery, where it became home to the priest. Then in 1891 the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne wanted a major institution for Daylesford. In 1892, the Holy Cross Convent and boarding school for girls was opened, and staffed by nuns (Presentation Sisters). The new chapel and other facilities were added after the turn of the century, but today the old convent has become an art centre and hospitality facility.
Convent (now Convent Gallery)
Most of the Victorian buildings in Daylesford survive well until today and most have been restored to their former glory. Not so with Hepburn. Hepburn Springs has predominantly Edwardian architecture due to the devastating 1906 bushfire which destroyed most buildings in the settlement.
Some developments in the area continued in the Inter-War period. Lake Daylesford had originally been part of the gold diggings and then was used as a Chinese Market Garden with their own village, Joss House and store. By the early In 1880s council was discussing a plan to turn the area into a man-made lake and construction began in 1927.
Recently revamped with the overflow area rebuilt, a bridge across it and a new rowing berth area, Lake Daylesford is part of the scenic, peaceful, health-giving atmosphere of a “European Spa” resort. Victoria in the Country blog specifically discussed the lake in his/her post on travel advertising. Bosco Parrasio has many fine photos of Daylesford’s gardens and architecture. Daylesford Makers' Market talks about the very beautiful craft work that is a core part of this modern health resort town.