Berwick Shire and City

Berwick District Road Board was created in 1862 and was proclaimed a Shire in 1868. In 1889 its Scoresby Riding was severed to form Fern Tree Gully Shire. The Shire then stretched east of Dandenong, about 35 km east of Melbourne, as far as Bunyip, about 75 km east of Melbourne. To the north, it extended to Lysterfield and Gembrook and to the south encompassed part of the Kooweerup Swamp. Its area was 384 sq km, bisected from east to west by the railway line and highway to Gippsland. Berwick was the main town. Pakenham became the prominent town of the small townships which grew up along the railway line.

In 1902, the Shire headquarters were moved to Pakenham from Berwick.

The shire generally had a rural aspect with dairying, sheep and cattle grazing, and fruit growing being the main pursuits. In 1946 the shire was described in the Australian blue book:

The shire's character changed greatly from the 1950s. In the western part, there was major industrial and housing development. At Doveton, close to Dandenong, there was a large Housing Commission settlement. Many large and small factories were established in the same area. Berwick and nearby Narre Warren were engulfed by new housing subdivisions from the 1970s onwards.

In 1973, the shire was subdivided, forming the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham. In 1978, new Shire Offices were opened at Narre Warren, adjoining Fountain Gate regional shopping centre. The new city was one of the most rapidly growing areas in the state, with a population of 50,000 in 1986 rising to 88,000 in 1994. Its area was 120 square kilometres.

In 1994, most of the City of Berwick was united with most of Cranbourne Shire to form the City of Casey.

Berwick municipality's census populations were:

Census Date Rural Metropolitan Total Population Remark
1871 2149      
1881 6249      
1891 4080     Fern Tree Gully Shire (1678) excised
1901 5084      
1911 6632      
1921 8951      
1933 10,102      
1954 12,412      
1961 10,815 10,884 21,699  
1966 8909 19,880 28,789  
1971 9650 23,460 33,110  
1976   26,600   Pakenham Shire (15,420) excised
1981   37,300    
1986   50,200    
1991   71,700    

Further Reading

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

Heritage of the City of Berwick, Context Pty Ltd, 1993

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

N.E. Beaumont, Early days of Berwick and its surrounding district of Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, 1979

Berwick, Doveton, Endeavour Hills, Eumemmerring, Hallam, Harkaway, Narre Warren, Narre Warren North, Narre Warren South and Pakenham Shire entries