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Mansfield, a rural township and former
shire, is 130 km. north-east of Melbourne. It is at the end of
the Maroondah Highway, between Lake Eildon and Mount Buller.
During the 1840s settlers occupied land
west of Mansfield and by the end of the decade occupation had
spread eastwards. In 1850 a station holder, Alfred Chenery, built
a blacksmith's forge near the intersecting boundaries of four
pastoral stations at Fords Creek. It became a convenient stopping
place, and the following year land was set aside there for a
surveyed township. It was first named after Mount Battery, about
4 km. to the east, but proving to be unpopular it was replaced
by Mansfield in 1856, at the prompting of a local station manager
who apparently had fond memories of Mansfield, near Sherwood
By 1856 gold had been discovered at the Jamieson River, and in
1861 it was discovered at Woods Point. The most suitable route
for transporting mining machinery was through Mansfield. Small
amounts of gold were also discovered around Mansfield.
A school was opened in 1858 by the Anglicans and Free Presbyterians,
who built churches in 1865 and 1866 respectively. Mansfield was
proclaimed a shire on 31 December, 1866, by when the township
also had two hotels, a court house a steam flour mill and a hospital.
In addition to sheep grazing, Mansfield had dairying (butter
factory opened in 1893) and cultivation for oats, potatoes and
About 25 km. north of Mansfield, near Tolmie, a party of Mansfield
police were searching for the Kelly gang in October, 1878. When
two of them camped at Stringybark Creek they were bailed up by
the outlaws. One of the police made a break for freedom and was
killed. Two other police who returned to the camp were also killed.
A monument to the three policemen was erected the following year
at the intersection of Mansfield's two main streets. The monument
stands at the front of a wide central plantation which runs down
the main commercial street.
In 1891, after more than a decade's lobbying, a branch railway
line was opened from Tallarook to Mansfield. The line provided
improved access for agricultural products to the Melbourne markets.
In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Mansfield -
Until 1919 the Mansfield shire was confined to the northern
pastoral regions. The mining towns along the Jamieson to Woods
Point road were in the Howqua shire, and Woods Point had been
a borough between 1865 and 1894. In 1919 part of the Howqua shire
was added to Mansfield shire, increasing its area by half. As
well as adding mining areas to the shire, Howqua had large forest
About fifty kilometres east of Mansfield is Mount Buller, and
during the 1920s the Ski Club and local interests began to open
it up as a tourist resort. The postwar development of the Mount
Buller snow resort has added substantially to Mansfield as a
tourist destination or as a stopover. Westwards, the development
of Lake Eildon as a boating and recreation site has also brought
tourists to Mansfield. In 1964 the State tourism authority began
promoting Mansfield as the Gateway to Leisureland.
Mansfield has also benefited from horse-riding holidays in the
hills to the east. "The Man from Snowy River" was filmed
east of Mount Buller in 1982. The main shopping street has been
enlarged by several new groups of shops. The railway station
has been converted to a tourism and information centre.
Mansfield has State primary and secondary schools and Catholic
and Steiner primary schools. The former shire offices are a district
office for Delatite shire. The court house (1879), the former
police stables (1886), the police memorial and the railway station
are on the Victorian Heritage Register.
The main street, Highett Street, is named after William Highett,
who was a squatter on the Maindample pastoral run. He came form
Tasmania with his brother John, who grazed stock near the Dandenong
Creek and named the Melbourne suburb of Highett. John Highett
later settled at Geelong and named his property Highton, now
a Geelong suburb, after his family's farm at Weymouth, England.
His son, Francis, built Highton Manor at Mansfield in 1896, which
has been converted to a motel and restaurant.
The district's residential property market is buoyant. In 1987
the median house price was $59,000 and in 1996 it was $82,125.
On 18 November, 1994, Mansfield shire was united with Benalla
shire, Benalla city and part of Violet Town shire to form Delatite
shire. In addition to the places already mentioned the Mansfield
shire contained Bonnie Doon, Merton, Merrijig and Tolmie.
Mansfield's town census populations
have been 385 (1871), 1,110 (1911), 1,323 (1947), 1,956 (1971)
and 2,178 (1991). The shire's census populations were 2,344 (1871),
3,800 (1891), 4,275 (1966) and 8,471 (1991). The increase in
the last twenty-five years indicates the trend to rural/residential
living in districts outside the township.
Gillison, Joan, "Colonial Doctor and his Town,"
Cypress Books, 1974.
"The Mansfield Valley: 150 Years of History," Mansfield
Historical Society, 1993.
Eildon | Alexandra | Maindample
| Alexandra | Bonnie