Heritage protection for the Old Hepburn Hotel is nearly in place following concerns that it could be pulled down for development on the site.

The Hotel has been a landmark for Hepburn Springs for over a 100 years. The Shire has conducted a heritage study for the Hotel. The study makes the significance of the Hotel clear.

Formerly known as the Old Racecourse Hotel, the old Hepburn Hotel was one of the first special licensed general stores and hotels on the Daylesford goldfields. It is first recorded in 1854, shortly after the establishment of the first Gold Commissioner’s Camp in Spring Creek (Hepburn Springs) in 1853 prior to its relocation to Daylesford in 1856.

The single storey timber weatherboard building with simple gable end roof is typical of the very small rural timber historic hotels. There are only a few surviving in the region and generally throughout Australia.

These hotels are associated with early development on the goldfields as the owners were first granted legal rights to build and operate liquor licences in 1854 on the outskirts of settlements along important gold routes. The businesses usually were a combination of supply stores offering food and accommodation and were often the centre of gold exchange, where gold was purchased and exchanged for money prior to presentation to the Crown. They were commonly built on large blocks, sometimes associated with farms.

The Old Hepburn Hotel also has historical significance for its associations with the German and Swiss Italian gold miners who were attracted to the Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Jim Crow, Yandoit and Shepherd Flats gold fields in the 1850s and 1860s. The property was located at the Old Racecourse settlement near Breakneck Gorge on Springs Creek – the earliest recorded Swiss Italian gold mining settlement.

The Hepburn Shire Council has prepared Amendment C82 to the Hepburn Planning Scheme to provide permanent heritage protection to the Old Hepburn Hotel at 236 Main Road, Hepburn.  The amendment is currently on exhibition.

By way of background, in early 2020, Council responded to a potential demolition by seeking interim protection for the Old Hepburn Hotel from the Minister for Planning. On 9 July 2020 the interim control was gazetted as Amendment C79hepb and provided on the condition that Hepburn Shire Council pursued permanent heritage controls through a separate amendment process. Amendment C82 is that separate process.