Dean is a rural township 8 km south-east of Creswick and 95 km north-west of Melbourne. It is east of the Creswick State Forest and is situated in a basin formed by the Bullarook and Adekate Creeks.
It is thought that Dean was named after Robert Dean, an early European settler, or after the Dean Hotel.
In 1860 Anglican and Presbyterian clergy established the Bullarook Forest Combined school. It became a Common school and, after transfer to a new site, was named Dean in 1868. The name predated the school's however, as Bailliere's Victorian gazetteer (1865) recorded Dean as having a sawmill, agricultural and mining activities and two hotels (neither named Dean).
A public hall was built in 1891, later accommodating a mechanics' institute. In 1903 the Australian handbook described Dean:
Dean has numerous plantings of exotic trees, in the school grounds, an avenue of honour (1919) and at 'Loatta' homestead (1891), the home of the Anderson brothers who ran the flour mill complex at Smeaton. Dean school became Victoria's first higher elementary school in 1911, mainly by persistent lobbying of the local member and Minister for Education, Alexander Peacock.
Dean's soil has been good for various agricultural uses. Potatoes are grown under spray irrigation. There is a reticulated supply from the Dean reservoir. The township has a general store, recreation reserve, public hall and tennis court, but no longer a hotel. The school had 14 pupils in 1998 and closed in 2003.
Dean's census populations have been:
*includes Wattle Flat
Lester Tropman and Associates et al, Creswick Shire heritage study, Creswick Shire, 1990