Cr Lesley Hewitt

A positive start to the year with the announcement that Daylesford has come fourth in the 10 Most Welcoming Cities on Earth, in the Most Welcoming Cities and the Traveller Review Awards 2004 recipients. Congratulations to all of us whose values of inclusion and respect made Daylesford’s place on the list happen. The news reminded me of a story that the late Sheila Gervasoni, a born and bred local resident, told me years ago. She recalled that when she was a little girl her father had said that if she saw someone, she didn’t know then she was to smile and make the person welcome as that person was a visitor to her town. What great advice for a father to give his daughter. Now of course Daylesford- Hepburn Springs has grown and there are many residents that may not be personally known to us. But this award shows that those values continue to underpin our interactions with each other and visitors to our town.

2024 is the final year of this current Council term. There will be Council elections across Victoria in October. The Minister for Local Government, Melissa Horne, has just announced a new Council structure for Hepburn Shire as part of a statewide review of Council structures.  There will no longer be separate wards in Hepburn, instead there will be an unsubdivided Council. Residents and ratepayers will pick seven councillors from across the whole Shire. This is a significant and important change that I would encourage you to find out more about given that you will be choosing Councillors in October. You can read about the change here  Microsoft Word – Hepburn Shire Council electoral structure review – Final Report – July 2023.docx (

This year, the last in the current Council term, we will be working to deliver the structure plans for the five town. Structure plans set the direction of development characteristics in each of the towns for the next 30 years. In late 2023 Community members contributed their insights into the draft plans.  Councillors and officers will also be working on the 10-year Financial Plan which needs to make sure that Council is financially sustainable over the long term, balancing the books whilst making sure we provide the services the community see are a priority. These are important and so keep your eye out for the opportunity to provide feedback on what you want in your town and Shire when the opportunity arises.

And finally, a big shout out to Devon Taylor and her partner Joe who have just had their first-year anniversary since taking over Paradise Books. Congratulations to Devon and Joe. It’s great to see that an iconic Daylesford small business, which has served the community for years, can continue to embrace change and develop under the stewardship of new owners. A model for us all perhaps to respect the foundations and history and embrace change to ensure that Daylesford thrives and grows.

Cr Hewitt represents Birch Ward on the Hepburn Shire Council.