Hepburn Shire

Hepburn shire (1995-) is situated at its centre about 130 km north-west of Melbourne. Much of the shire consists of hilly ranges with numerous former gold towns. The two main towns are Daylesford (the shire’s administrative centre) and Creswick. Smaller towns include Clunes and Trentham in the west and east of the shire respectively.

The shire was formed on 19 January 1995, by the union of Daylesford and Glenlyon, Creswick and about half of Talbot and Clunes and part of Kyneton shires. Its area is 1463 sq km. Much of the southern area is forest, and in 1996 farming occupied 671 sq km. Livestock grazing is mainly sheep and lambs, and the value of livestock meat and other products in 1996 was $12.2 million. Crops, particularly potatoes, were valued at $25.2 million.

The main highway in the shire is the Midland, passing generally north-easterly from Ballarat, through Daylesford, to Castlemaine. There are no railways, although one ran nearly along the forested ridge of the Dividing Range until 1978.

Daylesford is a town with a growing population, centred on Victoria’s premier spa region. Hepburn Springs is immediately to its north, and the shire’s name came from this source. (John Hepburn was one of three overlanders who brought cattle to Port Phillip in 1836, and in 1838 he settled at Smeaton, north of Creswick).

Hepburn shire’s census populations have been:

census date population
1996 13,402
2001 13,835
2006 13,732
2011 14,367

Tourism is fairly important to the shire. At the 2011 census the leading employment sectors were:

Sector % of employment
Accommodation 3.8
Cafes, restaurants 4.9
Education 4.7
Hospitals 4.6
Farming 4.1

Further Reading

Norm Darwin, Gold’n spa: a history of Hepburn shire, Ballarat, 2005