Kirkstall is a rural village in western Victoria, 5 km west of Koroit and 13 km north-east of Port Fairy. It is thought that it was named after Kirkstall, Yorkshire, England, the site of an early forge iron works and an abbey (1152).

Kirkstall is located on the edge of an area of rich volcanic soil which originated from Tower Hill, about 8 kilometres south-east. Settlement by farming families, many of Irish origin, occurred during the late 1850s. A school was opened in 1861. Several stores and a hotel were opened, forming a typical village. In 1890 a railway was opened from Koroit to Port Fairy, enabling traffic to bypass the cross roads where Kirkstall is situated. The commercial activities declined, although the hotel continued, and a Catholic church was built in 1906. Kirkstall retained its small district focus, and a Catholic school was opened in 1908. Kirkstall was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

Kirkstall's land is suited to potatoes and onions towards the east, and for grazing and other agriculture towards the west.

Farm consolidations have lessened Kirkstall's populations: the Catholic school closed in 1962, the church closed in 1987 and the State school within a few more years. The Kirkstall Hotel remains the community focal point, and there is a public hall (1901).

Kirkstall's census populations have been:

Census Date Population
1861 28
1871 282
1921 415
1961 231
2006 515*
2011 346

*and environs

Further Reading

Pamela M. Marriott, A shamrock beneath the Southern Cross: an history of the Shire of Belfast, Warrnambool, 1988

Kirkstall, 150th year celebration, 1861-2011, Port Fairy, 2011