Creswick Shire

Creswick Shire (1863-1995), an area of 551 square km, was formed on 31 December 1863, succeeding a Road District that was nearly five years old.

The township of Creswick was in the south-west corner of the shire, and was a separate borough from 1863 to 1934. The shire was north of Ballarat and west of Daylesford, and like those places had substantial gold mining.

Creswick township was founded on alluvial gold, and the northern part of the shire was primarily agricultural during the 1850s-60s. The principal town was Smeaton. To the south there was the Bullarook Forest, with Dean and Mollongghip. Immediately north of Creswick town deep lead gold mining began in the 1870s, and became one of the world's richest mine areas of that type. Generally known as the Berry Deep Leads, there was a dense belt of towns including Allendale, Clementson, Lawrence and Kingston. At a time when some gold areas were declining, Creswick Shire's population increased by nearly 1500 to 8000 persons in the 1880s.

The east of the shire included part of the Wombat Forest, and the volcanic soil in the foothills suited numerous crops, including potatoes. Deep lead mining and farm settlement almost denuded the eatern hills of tree cover, but softwood plantations and the Creswick forestry school led to a regreening and tree planting in towns and villages.

The shire's administrative centre was Kingston until about 1948. Kingston was on a railway line (1887-1953) from Daylesford to Creswick. There was also a small railway line from south of Creswick to Waubra (1888-1968), and the main line from Melbourne to Mildura passes through Creswick, having been opened from Ballarat to Creswick in 1874.

In 1946 the shire was described in the Australian blue book:

Both the shire and Creswick township underwent gradual population declines until about 1970 when upturns began.

In 1994 farming was carried out on about 66% of the shire's area, on which 140,000 sheep and lambs and 10,800 cattle were carried. In the eastern area 33,155 tonnes of potatoes were grown.

On 19 January 1995, Creswick Shire was united with Daylesford and Glenlyon Shire and parts of Kyneton Shire and Talbot and Clunes Shire to form Hepburn Shire.

Creswick Shire's census populations were:

Area census date population
Creswick Shire 1871 6928
  1891 7993
  1901 7179
  1911 4722
  1921 3044
  1933 2935
After absorbing Creswick borough 1947 3502
  1954 3554
  1971 3414
  1981 4080
  1991 4836

Further Reading

Lester Tropman and Associates et al, Creswick Shire heritage study, Creswick Shire, 1990

Allendale, Broomfield, Clementson, Creswick, Dean, Kingston, Lawrence, Mollongghip, Newlyn, Smeaton and Springmount entries