Central Goldfields Shire

Central Goldfields Shire (1995) is situated about 140 km north-west of Melbourne. It is reached by the Calder and Pyrenees Highways, the latter passing through Maryborough, the shire's administrative centre. The name is descriptive of the locality, being dotted with former mining towns. Among the main ones are Bealiba (in the shire's north-west), Dunolly, Carisbrook and Talbot (in the shire's south).

The shire was formed on 19 January 1995, by the union of Maryborough city, most of Bet Bet and Tullaroop Shires and about half of Talbot and Clunes Shire. Its area is 1550 square kilometres, of which about 60% is used for farming. A railway line runs southwards through the shire intersecting with an east-west line at Maryborough. The southerly line freights livestock (mainly sheep and lambs) and cereals, particularly from the north of the shire and the wheat/sheep region further north. In 1996 livestock products from the shire were valued at $10.1 million and crops were values at $10.3 million.

Maryborough had 57% of the shire's population at the 2011 census. Its regional dominance is partly explained by its post gold-era industrialisation which continued developing through to the 1960s. Despite the downturn in manufacturing Maryborough has retained a manufacturing and industrial base. Dunolly, also once a gold town of significant proportions, fought a rearguard action during the 1990s to keep its hospital and other community facilities. The towns are beyond the reach of most day trip tourism from Melbourne, although Maryborough has an annual highland festival. Tourists who wish to move beyond well trodden goldfields paths, however, will find much to reward them.

Central Goldfields Shire's census populations have been:

census date population
1996 12,914
2001 12,247
2006 12,323
2011 12,496

The median age of the shire's residents at the 2011 census was 48 years (Australia, 37) and their median income was 68% of the Australian median. There was an above average proportion of technicians, trades workers and labourers in the workforce. The leading industry employers were printing and associated work (mainly McPhersons Group, Maryborough), 5.1% of the workforce and hospitals, 5.3% of the workforce. Farming had slipped from 5.8% of the workforce in 2006 to 4.5% (2011 census).

Further Reading

Maryborough, Bet Bet, Talbot and Clunes, and Tullaroop Shires entries