Thornton, a township in an agricultural district, is 93 km north-east of Melbourne and between Alexandra and Eildon. It is situated on good river-front land where the Goulburn River and the Goulburn Valley Highway intersect.

Much of Thornton is in the Parish of Eildon. The area occupied by the Eildon Run was settled in 1838 and the Thornton Run was occupied in 1840. A primary school was opened in 1870 and by 1883 the Victorian municipal directory described Thornton as a village with first-class agricultural land under cultivation. In 1903 Thornton was described in the Australian handbook:

In 1910 Thornton was noted for fishing, waterfalls and scenery in addition to its farming activity. A hall, hotel, creamery and sawmills had been added to the township.

Thornton remains predominantly an agricultural district with a small township. Its census populations have been:

Census date Population
1911 238
1954 341
1966 194
1996 164
2011 361*

*and environs

When the Thornton school was opened it was known as Lower Thornton. Upper Thornton was about 7 km eastwards along the Goulburn Valley Highway towards Eildon. It is recorded as having a school and populations of 54 in 1933 and 26 in 1961.