Macaroni and off-centre bowls

The region of Daylesford-Hepburn Springs, 100 km northwest of Melbourne, was the destination of many 19th century gold diggers. The miners’ tents may have disappeared, but a strong Swiss and Italian presence remains.

“Bellinzona”, named after the capital of Ticino, was Daylesford’s first guesthouse (beginning of the 20th century). It is now a conference centre and one of the city’s most expensive hotels. The price of a room is so high (around SFr250 a night) that the receptionist advised me to go away and book online to benefit from a lower rate!

Hepburn Springs is one of Australia’s best known spa resorts. Tourist operators and arthritis sufferers owe a debt of gratitude to Vincenzo Perini, an emigrant from Mergoscia, near Locarno, who in 1855 was on the first committee formed to protect the mineral springs.

Difficult to imagine an Italian without pasta. True to tradition, the Lucini brothers built the “Macaroni Factory”, thought to be the oldest Italian-owned building in Australia. In 2009, it celebrates its 150th anniversary.

From the street and family names in and around Daylesford, you would think you were in a Ticino valley. Though it is difficult to imagine the Swiss Post dropping off letters and parcels in an oil-drum.

Even the top Italian and Swiss bowls players would not stand a chance in Australia. The bowls they use in these parts are heavier on one side than the other, which makes them curve in – or curve out – at the end of their trajectory. Spectators on the sidelines, be warned!


2 thoughts on “Macaroni and off-centre bowls

  1. I am a great grand son of Serafino Righetti, who arrived in Australia, aged 15, in 1854. Serafino was from Someo, Valle Maggia, born 16 January 1839. He married an Irish protestant girl, Lucy McCord in Ballarat on 7 February 1862. They had a hotel in Hepburn Springs, then in 1886 purchased the General Store in Heywood, South West Victoria. Serafino was a shire councillor for 20 years and had 2 terms as shire president. Serafino and Lucy had 4 sons and my grandmother, Lucy Amelia Righetti, born 24 October 1872, who married Rev Canon Charles Hudson in 1900 at Daylesford. Serafino died on 17 December 1917 and Lucy, no doubt of a broken heart, soon after on 26 March 1918. Both are in the only vault at Heywood Cemetery. The family supports its upkeep. The Righetti family has an annual reunion in Victoria, celebrating the achievements of the Ticenese family in their new found land.

  2. i would like to make contact with the great grandson of serafino righetti, ian hudson. serafino employed my grand uncle james carracher in heywood at one of his saw mills. james was the manager.
    please assist me in this request. thank you.

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