Kallista, on the eastern side of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, is 37 km south-east of Melbourne. The area, originally known as South Sassafras, was opened up for settlement in 1893. The change of name to Kallista, Greek for ‘most beautiful’, was made in 1925.
In about 1903 a post office and store were established, and a progress association was formed in 1910. A mechanics’ hall built in 1914 was the site for the first school five years later. Anglican and Methodist churches were built in the 1920s. Famous residents of Kallista included C.J. Dennis, where he wrote much of The Sentimental Bloke (1913-14), and Tom Roberts, artist, who lived in a cottage named Talisman in Kallista with his first wife Lillie Roberts (Williamson), who became known for her handsome carved frames.
Spectacular views brought guest houses, tea rooms, souvenir shops and residences. Notable viewing points are at Gallemonda Park Road and at Johns Hill Reserve, Ridge Road, south-east Kallista. The Sherbrooke Lodge guesthouse, just west of Kallista, was visited by Sir Robert Helpmann in the 1960s, where he was inspired by lyrebirds in the adjoining forest to choreograph the ballet The Display.
The 1960s and 1970s brought a younger population to Kallista. A community house, community newspaper and craft market were started. New houses were built, but by the 1990s some of the children of that new generation were faced with a shortage of local employment. In 2009 locals reported an influx of sulphur crested cockatoos. The Kallista primary school had 217 pupils in 2014.
The census populations have been:
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Helen Coulson, The story of the Dandenongs, 1838-1958, Melbourne, 1968
Alec Reid, A village in the forest: the story of Kallista, Kallista, 1993
Betty Hotchin, Early settlement at The Patch – Kallista, Monbulk, 1990