Emerald, a township in the Dandenong Ranges, is 44 km south-east of Melbourne. The name came from Emerald Creek (also known as Ti Tree Creek) which was named after a prospector Jack Emerald who was murdered in 1858. In the same year the Emerald gold diggings were opened, centred on alluvial workings on the Emerald and other creeks. A town reserve was approved in 1859. By 1860 a rudimentary township grew near the miners' encampment. Mining was intermittent, but residents had rural pursuits such as eucalyptus-leaf harvesting for the distilling of eucalyptus oil. Settlers selected land for farming in the late 1870s. Clearing the steep land was difficult, and the transport of produce arduous. The most successful farmer was Carl Nobelius, who developed a tree nursery (possibly the largest in the Southern Hemisphere by the 1900s), with local and export sales. Two million trees covering 450 acres were available in 1914, when exports were greatly restricted by the outbreak of war.

In 1903 Emerald was described in the Australian handbook:

The locality's development was marked by the opening of the narrow-gauge railway from Belgrave to Gembrook (1900) later to become the Puffing Billy scenic railway, football, cricket and rifle clubs, an Anglican church (1906), a Church of Christ (1914) and a mechanics' institute (1905). The railway made Emerald a venue for day-trippers and children's picnics.

In 1921 the Nobelius land was acquired from his estate and two years later divided between the Emerald Country Club and the Emerald Park. The Country Club consists of a large club house and a golf links, and the park contains Emerald Lake (Lake Treganowan) and is served by two railway stopping places, Nobelius and Lake Side. It has walking tracks and numerous attractions.

Emerald has several smaller reserves, an active shopping area, a primary school (424 pupils, 2014), a secondary college and a growing residential population. The hardware store is owned by the Emerald Cooperative (1945).The secondary college came in 1985 after nearly 30 years of agitation and the commuting of children to Upwey and Pakenham. In 2014 it had 910 pupils. Probably without any agitation at all, the shopping area acquired a Woolworths supermarket in 2011.

Emerald's census populations have been:

Area Census date Population
Emerald 1911 341
  1933 373
  1971 705
  1991 4693
Emerald and Clematis 2001 6111
  2006 6135
  2011 5813

Further Reading

Helen Coulson, Story of the Dandenongs, 1838-1958, Melbourne, 1968

Jo Jenkinson, A history of the Emerald and District Cooperative Society, Emerald, 2005