At a time when COVID-19 has re-emerged, bushwalking is a great option for exercise and recreation. Last Sunday was perfect weather for a walk around Hepburn Springs.

The Swiss Italian Heritage Walk comes curtesy of the Daylesford U3A bushwalking group. It combines  the local bush with historic mineral springs, gold diggings, Swiss Italian buildings, pools and bridges. It is one of the prettiest walks in the area.

The track notes start at the car park in the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve, but an equally good way of doing the walk is to start at Harry’s Cafe on the corner of Main Rd and 10th St. The great advantage is that you can have a coffee at the beginning or the end of the walk.

From there you go down 10th St, past the soldiers memorial and head down the path to the left and then across the bridge to the Mineral Reserve. Keep going in an easterly direction on the path through the reserve until you get to children’s play ground.

Just past the playground on the southern side there is a broad dirt path going up the hill. Follow that going straight on at the first intersection and then taking the westerly path to the right at the second intersection down to the old Hepburn Pool built by Victor and Ernest Zelman in the 1930s.

From there it’s up the steps on the Western side of the pool and then up the pool way. Turn north at Borsa Crescent and then West at Sixth St and go up to Main Rd.

There you will find the Savoia Hotel with the old Macaroni Factory on the other side. You can go down Main St to the North and see the Grand Bellinzona Guest House.  The track notes will tell you that it has burnt down and been rebuilt twice. Then turn back and head back south up Main St and cross over at Sixth St. Go down the hill to Swiss Mountain Avenue and follow it north until you reach a sharp bend. Follow the dirt track off the bend down to the old bridge on Doctors Gully.

There is an entertaining interpretive sign on the bridge explaining how it was originally built from a stolen bucket dredge ladder arm.

Sadly, the signage on the walk has nothing to say about the Dja Dja Wurrung. It’s really no longer acceptable for that to be the case and the signs should to be updated by Parks Victoria or the Council.

After crossing the bridge you head up the hill to the wonderfully named Lakeside Drive – a memento to the 1928 petition to flood the gully to create an ornamental lake – a folly that was once dreamt of to promote recreation and tourism. Then immediately turn off on the dirt track heading to the North east and follow that to the main bridge crossing Doctors Gully on Main Rd.

Cross the bridge and then turn South on 10th St and head up the hill until you’re back at Harry’s for that well-earned coffee. You can also take a brief detour down Main St to the north to see the Villa Parma past the Springs Hotel. The whole walk can be done in under two hours.