Guildford was settled after the 1852 alluvial gold rushes around the Loddon River. By 1855 it had been surveyed and proclaimed a town, on a reserve gazetted in about 1850. Deep leads were worked around the town and, while initially there were some good returns, by the mid 1870s, this form of mining was no longer viable.
In the 1860s, the biggest congregation of Chinese miners in Victoria was at Guildford. Their camp, situated beside Campbells Creek near its junction with the Loddon River, is believed to have had a population of five to six thousand men. Census records do not reflect this figure as Chinese numbers were generally understated.