Graytown is a deserted gold mining township which had an estimated population of 20,000 in 1868. It is on a minor road from Heathcote to Nagambie, and is 25 km north-east of Heathcote. Immediately north of Graytown is the hilly Moormbool iron bark forest, and to its south is Major Creek, along which there are fertile river flats.

In 1868 gold was discovered in the Graytown area, in a field lying between the McIvor (Heathcote) and the Rushworth diggings. There was a rapid influx of population. The area was called Spring Creek, after a tributary of Major Creek. Numerous hotels, several bank premises and stores were opened by the end of the year. A borough was constituted on 9 August 1869, comprising 23 sq km. It was named Graytown after Moses William Gray who had been a Parliamentary member for the nearby Rodney electorate, 1860-64. He was a passionate land reformer.

Graytown’s leading citizen was William Oddy, storekeeper and grocer, borough mayor and magistrate, who remained there for 44 years, 40 years after Graytown’s decline. The decline began when the Spring Creek flooded many mine workings in 1870. By 1875 the borough had a population of 130 persons, and in 1880 it was absorbed by McIvor shire. Graytown was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

The primary school (1869), Oddy’s hotel and three churches continued until the 1920s. The school building and the Catholic church, the last civic buildings, were transported to other towns in about 1960.

Graytown is now a State forest and farming area, with Osicka’s vineyard near Major Creek. The Spring Creek nature conservation reserve, part of the Heathcote-Graytown National Park, is noted for large trees that are absent or uncommon elsewhere. There is also an Army Proving and Experimental Establishment at Graytown, adjacent to the live firing range associated with the Puckapunyal military centre. Graytown’s census populations were:

census date population
1871 1422
1881 161
1901 71
1921 70
1933 69

Further Reading

Joyce Hammond, Bridging the gap, Shire of Goulburn 1871-1971, Shire of Goulburn, 1971

'The death of Mr William Oddy', The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, 29 August 1912, p.3