This year, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm’s La Primavera Festival will also pay tribute to the Hepburn Shire’s iconic underground mineral water and the dedicated healing practitioners who operate in the region.
To be held on Sunday, November 18, the day will promote health, healing and happiness, focusing on the area’s precious mineral water and its connection to the Swiss-Italian settlers who began arriving as early as the 1850s.
Many Swiss-Italians were lured to Australia during the gold rush, in search of fortune and a more prosperous future for themselves and their families.
Hepburn Springs was a particularly popular place among the Swiss-Italian community, and during the 1850s, 10 per cent of the area’s population spoke Italian.
While very few of the new arrivals struck gold, they soon realised that they could earn a living by providing secondary services such as supplying equipment and lodgings to the miners.
The Swiss-Italians who settled in the Hepburn Shire established many successful businesses in the region.
Many of them used their farming skills to produce a wide range of goods, from butter and cheese to fruit and vegetables.
Doctor Francesco Rosetti was the first to open a shop in Hepburn Springs, while the Lucini brothers founded Australia’s first ever pasta business, the Old Macaroni Factory, which became famous for exporting locally-made pasta to the Belpaese.
It was around this time that people began to take an interest in the region’s natural mineral water, as the Hepburn Shire is home to more than 80 per cent of Australia’s underground mineral water.
In the 1860s, there was growing concern that mining activities were affecting the area’s mineral springs.
The Swiss-Italians who had come to call the region home had gained a strong appreciation and knowledge of the health-giving properties of mineral water because of where they originally hailed from.
On December 2, 1864, a public meeting was held and chaired by Doctor Severino Guscetti and nine other committee members – six of whom also spoke Italian.
The committee requested that the Colonial Government had the mineral water analysed, and that a grant of land be made and proclaimed as a reserve.
It took five years for these requests to be finalised, but this chapter in history demonstrates how the Italian-speaking community became active in the local affairs of the Hepburn Shire and how it helped shaped the area into what it is today.
“It’s no exaggeration to state that Hepburn Springs gained its status as the spa capital of Australia thanks to the foresight and actions of the Swiss-Italians, especially Dr Guscetti,” Lavandula’s Jack Larm says.
Now, that status and the area’s Swiss-Italian roots will be celebrated at Lavandula.
Upon arriving at the farm, which is located in Shepherds Flat, visitors are encouraged to head straight for the Water Bar, where they’ll be invited to sample some of the region’s best underground mineral water and learn about its health-giving properties.
Beyond the Water Bar, guests can also explore the Field of Healers, where some of the region’s best healing practitioners will be on hand to assist with relaxation and rejuvenation.
Some of the healing practices to be showcased include massage, reiki, meditation, yoga, art therapy, cupping and spooning.
The day will also feature live music from Santa Taranta, who will bring their unique blend of southern Italian folk music to visitors’ ears.
People will be able to explore the original 1850s stone farmhouse for an in depth tour conducted by the descendants of its original owner, Aquilino Tinetti, a migrant from the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino who established a dairy business on the property.
Stalls will be peppered throughout the picturesque property and there will be plenty of food on offer, especially from the farm’s new and improved wood-fired oven.
All in all, the event promises to be a great family day out with an Italian flavour.