Dereel is a rural village south of Ballarat and about 10 km north of Rokewood. Dereel was the name of an outstation of a pastoral run which was taken up in 1843. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word descriptive of a tribal boundary. The Dereel Lagoon, about 2 km in diameter, is west of the village.

There are forested hills in the vicinity, and Dereel’s early settlement was supported by timber cutting, gold mining and grazing. Gold was found in the Rokewood district in 1855. No special rush in Dereel is recorded, but settlement was sufficient by 1864 for a school to open. In 1903 Dereel was described in the Australian handbook:

Mining continued beyond 1900, but by the 1930s the population fell to about 100 people and the school was closed. It was reopened in 1959 when local parents added a room to the memorial hall, but closed after 1970 when the attendance was 13 pupils. The churches also fell from two to nil. Paradoxically, since about 1974 the rural setting has attracted new residents, and the village has a general store, a nursery, an engineering works, as well as the memorial hall. The hilly Enfield State Forest is north of Dereel.

A grass and scrub fire tore through the town in March 2013, destroying 16 houses, livestock and 40 outbuildings. After the fire residents lobbied for improved mobile phone reception.

Dereel’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Dereel 1891 110
  1911 237
  1933 133
  1961 57
Dereel and environs 2011 586

At the 2011 census farming accounted for 12.4% of employment.

Further Reading

Gladys Seaton, Gold reef and silver tussock: a history of the Shire of Leigh, Rokewood, 1988