The history of the Ballan springs is intertwined with that of the Gunsser family, manufacturers of cordials, soft drinks and aerated waters. Between 1870 and 1910 the Gunssers used the mineral water of Gunsser Spring, near Spargo Creek, to produce soda water in their factory on the site. The Gunssers also used the Ballan ‘Shaws’ Spring from 1904 onwards when carbon dioxide was extracted and used to charge the soft drinks. Some mineral water was also bottled.
Their Ballan cordial plant was established c.1909 by the three brothers William, Albert and Edwin. Located in Inglis Street, the business reached its pinnacle in the 1920s but was closed by 1932 when facing strong competition from Ballarat bottling businesses.
Because of the low flow of Ballan Spring, Gunssers collected mainly carbon dioxide from the spring rather than water. Gunsser drinks were supplied in bottles with lightning stoppers, as well as in Lamont and Codd patents. They were probably also supplied in Crown Seal ‘skittles’-a flat bottomed torpedo-style bottle.
After a few years of argument with landholders, a small reserve of just over two acres (1 ha), including the Ballan Mineral Spring, was reserved in December 1935 and available for public access. In the 1980s Ludol Bottlers (Allan & John Gilbert) extracted mineral water from a bore just to the north of the Ballan Spring with the last extraction in 1987.
Two timber pavilions are located 40 m and 80 m north of Shaws Road on the west bank of the river across from the spring. The Ballan Spring eye is on the eastern bank of the stream surrounded by a low brick and concrete-rendered structure. The small sump has a pipe in the base from which mineral water discharges.
A low-level gravel path follows the river between the crossing point and the rotundas. The further rotunda was built over a bore which was once fitted with a standpipe and hand pump. In 2008 the pump no longer exists and the standpipe is capped. A new bore was sunk on the east bank to allow for a full redevelopment of the reserve only a few metres from the original spring eye in 2008.
There are several places in the stream bed where gas is bubbling and an iridescent film of ferruginous precipitate rests on the surface of the water.
The spring is located about 5 km west of the Ballan Post Office near the entrance to the Bostock Reservoir picnic area. The spring is located near the southwest corner of CAD 25 Section II parish of Gorong. The springs developed eye is located on the eastern side of East Branch of the Moorabool River about 50 m north of Shaws Road.
Foster (1937) mapped the detailed geology around the spring on the Moorabool West parish geological map and by Foster (1931) on the adjoining Gorong parish geological map. The springs issue from middle Ordovician Darriwillian to Castlemanian strata. The beds strike 360 and dip 70E, and the spring is located on the eastern flank of an anticline.
A meridional striking dyke was mapped about 800 m to the south. The Ordovician bedrock includes black shales and coarse felspathic grits. Permian glacial tillites outcrop on the hill to the west of the spring. A number of small mine shafts have be sunk in the Ordovician strata near the spring, and include the “Navies Venture” shaft.