Before the establishment of Melbourne, capital of the State of Victoria, Australia, in 1834, the area now known as The
Upper Yarra was inhabited by the Yarra Yarra tribe of Aborigines. With the arrival of European settlers, tribal number declined.
and Mapped, 1845
The upper reaches of the Yarra River were explored and mapped in 1845 by Surveyor General Robert Hoddle
after whom the settlement and creek, Hoddles Creek, is named.
Gold Mining, 1859
Gold mining commenced in the Upper Yarra at Britannia Creek at about the same time gold was discovered at nearby Emerald
for which a Discovery Award was paid in 1858. Yankee Jim's Creek goldfield opened in 1859. It was renamed Warburton in 1863
after the gold warden for the district, Charles Warburton Carr. A liquor licence was issued to E.J.Buller in 1864 and his
hotel helped to serve the needs of the mining community.
The gold mined was mainly alluvial (as opposed to reef) and deposits were reported to be 'of the most substantial character'.
The wash was two feet (600 mm) thick at a depth of 70 feet (21 m) resting on a granite bottom with nuggets of seven ounces
(200 gm) in weight. In 1870, a water wheel was built at Warburton to drive a battery which crushed the gold-bearing rock.
This was located at the Shining Star mine, one of the few reef mines. As alluvial deposits became exhausted, miners went to
Woods Point where larger reefs existed. By the late 1890's, most of the 'easy' gold had been found and prospectors had moved
on, leaving only a few settlers in the town.
A timber industry took over in Warburton as gold ran out. Axemen cut wagon loads of palings which were taken over
rough bush tracks to Lilydale, the railhead at that time. The railway was extended to Warburton in 1901. Numerous sawmills
and timber tramways developed throughout the area supplying timber to the trainline for transport to Melbourne. The narrow
gauge tramways were so named because an Act of Parliament preventing anyone but the Government from operating trainlines.
Steam and diesel engines were used to power the sawmills and haul the logs. In some cases the logs were lifted by cable
and pulley high above the ground to carry them to mills and railheads. In more remote areas, horses were used to pull empty
bogies up graded lines. When loaded with logs, the bogies would run downhill under the control of braking systems. The mills
provided work for all who wanted it, and towns, such as Powelltown, sprang up around some of the mills. A few of the timber
tramway tracks remain open to walkers but chain saws, bulldozers and timber jinkers replace the older methods of felling and