Upper Yarra Shire, Victoria

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Upper Yarra shire, created on 19 October, 1888, comprised 1,732 sq. km. Its most westerly main town was Yarra Junction, which is 56 km. east of Melbourne. Its easterly extremity was a line between the Baw Baw plateau and Matlock, 110 km. from Melbourne. The Yarra River flows through the former shire.

Most of the former shire is of mountainous terrain, with tall open forest at higher elevations. About three quarters of the shire was public land, and half of that used exclusively for water conservation. The Upper Yarra Dam is the largest water storage for Melbourne water west of the Great Dividing Range.

Timber and water harvesting were the shire's prominent activities, but tourism and skiing drew Melburnians, particularly to Mount Donna Buang, which is north of Warburton.

In 1949 the Australian Blue Book described Upper Yarra shire:

 

 

In addition to the places already mentioned, the shire contained Britannia Creek, Launching Place, Powelltown and Wesburn, all in the western quarter of the shire.

On 15 December, 1994, the shire was united with most of Lillydale, Healesville and Sherbrook shires to form the Yarra Ranges shire.

In 1940 a site for an Upper Yarra Dam was proposed, and immediately after the war work began on construction of a conduit to carry water from the proposed storage to the Silvan reservoir.

Temporary buildings for construction workers were brought into the site and by 1949 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (construction authority), requested provision of a school. A temporary building was opened in 1950 and the permanent buildings functioned from 1951 to 1964.

When the dam was completed in 1957 it added 200,000 megalitres to Melbourne's water storages (compared with Maroondah and Silvan, 62,000 megalitres). In 1954 the population of the Upper Yarra Dam township was 634 males and 225 females. In 1961 its estimated population was 100.

Upper Yarra shire's census populations were 800 (1891), 3,644 (1911), 5,444 (1947), 6,952 (1954), 9,864 (1981) and 15,032 (1991).

 

Further Reading:

 

Powell, J.M., Watering the Garden State: Water, Land and Community in Victoria, 1834-1988, Allen and Unwin, 1989.

 



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