Axe Creek, Emu Creek and Eppalock

Axe Creek, Emu Creek and Eppalock are rural localities generally 12 km south-east of central Bendigo and immediately east of Strathfieldsaye. Axe Creek is on the Bendigo-Redesdale Road, and is the name of the census area enclosing all three places. Emu Creek and Eppalock are south of Axe Creek.

The two creeks, Axe and Emu, flow northwards and converge near the Axe Creek village. Axe Creek later joins the Campaspe River.

Emu Creek, the stream nearest to Bendigo, was settled by farmers, among them several German vignerons from the 1850s to the 1890s. On the Axe Creek, Cal Heine and William Griffenhagen had an estate employing 60 to 70 pickers in the grape picking season and a permanent staff of 30. Their cellars are listed on the Victorian heritage register.

Axe Creek had Anglican and Catholic primary schools in the 1860s, the Catholic one lasting until 1903. Emu Creek had a Presbyterian school in 1860. Government schools were: Emu Creek (1873-1947); and Upper Axe Creek North (renamed Eppalock in 1920) opened in 1912 and had 48 pupils enrolled in 2010.

As well as being on the Bendigo-Redesdale Road, Axe Creek was on the Bendigo to Heathcote railway (1888-1958). There was no hotel or general store, but the Catholic church’s timber building was replaced with a brick building in 1937.

Emu Creek, with its several vignerons, was described in the Australian handbook 1903:

Upper Axe Creek North/Eppalock was also only a primary school, with a catchment of farm families. The change of name to Eppalock was a simplification of nomenclature, and adopted the name of the survey parish. (The Eppalock reservoir (1964) is to the east and was constructed partly at the prompting of the Eppalock Advancement League). The St Josephs’ Catholic church is in Axe Creek Road, north of the Eppalock school.

Emu Creek, with its proximity to Bendigo, has rural/residential holdings interspersed with traditional farming.

The district of Sedgwick is to the southwest of Emu Creek and was named Upper Emu Creek until 1901. It had a school (1865-1990), Methodist church (1873), a post office (1880-1922), tennis club (1910), hall (1958) and recreation reserve (1947)

Census populations have been:

census date area
  Emu Creek Axe Creek village Emu Creek census area Axe Creek census area Sedgwick district
1911 127 - - -  
1933 120 87 - -  
1947 78 - - -  
2011 - - 316 300 487

Further Reading

Tim Hewat, Bridge over troubled waters: a history of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, South Melbourne, 1983

Barbara Mitchell, On the creeks: early life at Strathfieldsaye in the valley of the three creeks, Axe, Emu and Sheepwash, the author, 2005

Axe Creek Eppalock recalled, ‘Back To’ committee, 1981

Debra Reade, Fire call: history of Axe Creek rural fire brigade 1903-2012, Axe Creek, 2013

Sedgwick: reflections of our past, Back to Sedgwick Committee, undated