Knowsley is a rural village on the McIvor Highway between Heathcote and Bendigo, about 30 km east of Bendigo. It is thought that it was named after Knowsley, near Liverpool, England, although there was a Knowsley hotel in the district in 1866.
The first hotel at Knowsley itself was the Moorabbee, opened in 1876. A school was opened three years later. Knowsley was a station of the railway line opened between Bendigo, Heathcote and Heathcote Junction in 1888-90. The main activity was the cutting of timber, much of it firewood which was transported to Bendigo. The Knowsley State Forest is north-west of the present village. Knowsley was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:
As the timber was cleared the land was used for grazing. In 1933 the Victorian municipal directory described Knowsley as a farming and grazing township with a school, recreation hall, church and a hotel. Large amounts of firewood were forwarded to Bendigo. By then the population was about 150 people, which steadily declined. There were seven pupils at the school in 1981, which closed in 1991.
Knowsley has several buildings dotted about the village, including a former Moorabbee Hotel (closed 1958 to ‘become a private residence’), a public hall, and the Heathcote Park motor raceway. The Eppalock Lake reservoir is 4 km southwards.
Knowsley’s census populations have been:
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J.O. Randell, McIvor: a history of the Shire and the township of Heathcote, 1985
Keith W. Turton, Farewell to the ‘Timber Line’: the history of the Heathcote Junction to Bendigo and associated railways, Melbourne, 1968