Beaconsfield, 46 km east of central Melbourne on Cardinia Creek and the old Princes Highway, was originally known as Little Berwick. It is immediately to the east of Berwick. A small settlement grew up in the vicinity of Bowman's Inn, a coaching stop on the road to Gippsland. When gold was discovered at Wood's Point in the 1860s Mrs Bowman employed workers to cut a track from Beaconsfield north to the Yarra Track leading to Wood's Point. Miners using Bowman's Track increased her custom considerably.

In the 1870s gold was found in the gullies north of Beaconsfield. Timber getters followed the prospectors. The foothills were found to be suitable for orchards, and fruit trees, particularly apples and lemons, were planted.

In 1881 a railway station was opened on the Gippsland line and named Beaconsfield after the prominent statesman Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield. The name had already been used for the post office at Beaconsfield Upper for several years but was transferred to the railway station and surrounding settlement. ‘Beaconsfield Railway Station’ school opened in 1890.

Beaconsfield was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

As the district developed, many commodities were dispatched by rail, especially sand, timber and firewood, fruit, flowers, dairy products, even hops and eucalyptus oil. Passenger traffic was also heavy. A number of big homes were built in the area as holiday homes for city people, and camping beside the creek was popular. Large numbers of people disembarked at Beaconsfield station en route to the boarding houses at Upper Beaconsfield. The Victorian municipal directory for 1896 described Beaconsfield as a favourite place of resort, with a 70 room hotel. River sand extraction was an important industry.

There were several stores, two hotels and a school (530 pupils, 2014). A public hall was opened in 1906. A reservoir was constructed by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in a gully north of Beaconsfield, to serve Flinders Naval Base. The Montuna golf links were established in 1930 north of the township.

In recent years there has been a great deal of land subdivision for housing and farmlets. The increased population has led to greater provision of services, including parklands along Cardinia Creek, sports grounds, the Beaconsfield community complex and a Catholic secondary college.

 Beaconsfield’s census populations have been: 

Census date Population
1911 516
1921 377
1947 474
1966 606
2006 4198
2011 6412

Further Reading

N.E. Beaumont, Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts of Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, 3rd ed, 1979

Berwick-Pakenham Historical Society, In the wake of the pack tracks: a history of the Shire of Berwick, now the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham, 1982

From bullock tracks to bitumen: a brief history of the Shire of Berwick, 1962

Audrey Dodson, Beaconsfield, the school and its district: 1890-1990, Beaconsfield, 1990