Coldstream is a mainly rural area, but with a growing residential component, 37 km east of Melbourne, extending northwards from Lilydale to the Yarra River.
Coldstream adjoins Yering and Yeringberg, where the Ryrie brothers, overlanders from New South Wales, found grazing on the open river flats in 1838. William Ryrie planted the first vineyard in the Lilydale district on his Yering cattle station in the year of his arrival. Other vineyards followed in the 1850s and 1860s, several planted or tended by skilled workers from Switzerland.
Grazing was mostly confined to sheep and meat cattle, but by the 1880s the proximity of the railway (to Lilydale, 1881 and to Yarra Glen, 1888), made dairying profitable. Declining grape yields caused the uprooting of some vineyards at the turn of the century, and fungal infection in 1918 was a serious blow. By then Coldstream was a milk-producing district. The last recorded grape harvest was in 1937, and 30 years passed before there was a revival of viticulture.
Coldstream did not have a school until 1977, but there was one at Yering West (1880-1905) and one continues at Yering (1869).
The western side of Coldstream contains the site of the Coldstream station on the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway, formerly the Lilydale to Healesville railway (1888-1991). The Coldstream township and residential area, just south of the junction of the Melba and Maroondah Highways, contains a drive-in shopping centre, the primary school (115 pupils, 2014) and recreation reserves. At the junction of the highways is Coombe Cottage, the estate of Dame Nellie Melba (Helen Mitchell), operatic soprano (1861-1931). The Coldstream airfield is east of the township.
Eleven vineyards are in Coldstream, forming part of the Yarra Valley wineries region, which had over 30 such establishments in 1997 and over 80 in 2014.
Coldstream’s census populations have been:
Lynette J. Peel, ‘Viticulture at Geelong and Lilydale’, Victorian historical magazine, November 1965