Tucked in the hills a mere 14kms south of Castlemaine, Vic is the tiny, wee hamlet of Vaughan Springs. This was once a gold mining area and a young lad by the name of Jim Paull was working in the gully for a gold sluicing operation when he noticed water bubbling from the earth. The Jim Paull spring was named in his honour and a second spring was named for the state premier of the day, Lawson. The area was set aside as a public reserve.
Today the springs reserve is a pretty park on several levels. The two springs are there and still operational. Being a bit of a fan of spring water my preference is for the slightly spritzig and minerally Jim Paull which feels like it is doing you good with every cupped handful. There are parklands for picnics, shady trees and an old dam and small spillway on the gurgling Loddon River. The remnants of entertainments of bygone days can be seen in the old kiosk, a miniature train and a fenced running track. According to the historical plaques the busiest day here was on Boxing Day in 1939 when 3000 people enjoyed a sports day in the park.
You won’t find 3000 people these days but we shared a quiet evening with two other families camped on the upper level free camp where there is room for at least half a dozen campsites. There are plenty of walks around the area as this is on the Goldfields Trail roughly halfway between Daylesford and Castlemaine. But best of all is the fabulous slide which takes you swiftly from the camping area down to the amenities block.