Diggers Rest and Plumpton

Diggers Rest, a small township set in rural surrounds, is on the Calder Freeway 30 km north-west of central Melbourne.

Unlike several small townships on the plains north-west of Melbourne, Diggers Rest is not positioned in a protected hollow or beside a watercourse. Rather, several streams flow away from the slight rise where the town is built, making it exposed and prone to dry conditions. Diggers Rest's origins lay in it being a convenient stopping place for gold miners en route to the Bendigo and adjacent goldfields, and Caroline Chisholm had a women's shelter at Diggers Rest. A hotel (1852) was opened at the junction of the roads to Bendigo and Bulla.

A railway station was opened on the line from Melbourne to Sunbury (1859). A primary school was opened in 1874, and Diggers Rest became a postal village with a general store, post office, weighbridge, mechanics' institute and a chaff mill. Diggers Rest was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

The exposed landscape provided a suitable venue for the escapologist, Harry Houdini, to achieve Australia's first officially recorded powered flight in 1910. There is a commemorative marker south of the town.

Diggers Rest became well known to car travellers in the post-war years, where the highway negotiated an awkward crossing of the railway line. The Calder Freeway later bypassed the town, probably providing relief for the residents in the growing numbers of houses. The town has three recreation reserves, a community hall, football club and Houdini Drive beside the largest reserve. Large Defence Department communication installations once occupied space south of the town. The hotel burnt down in 2008 and fire damaged part of the general store and post office in 2011. Diggers Rest-born freestyle aerial skiier Lydia Lassila won a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Diggers Rest primary school had 72 pupils in 2014.

Diggers Rest's census populations have been:

Census date Population
1891 186
1921 228
1947 215
1954 196
1961 267
2001 1795
2006 1730
2011 1662


South of Diggers Rest there is Plumpton Park, with a house dating from about 1922. The property is one of several resulting from the break-up of the vast Rockbank pastoral holding held by the Clarke family until the early 1900s. Plumpton road runs south towards Rockbank. The rural locality between Diggers Rest and Rockbank is named Plumpton. It has several rural heritage sites, along with the award-winning Galli Estate winery on the Melton Highway. There is a housing estate on Plumpton’s eastern edge, adjoining Caroline Springs.

Plumpton's census populations have been:

census date population
2011 418