Magpie is a rural/residential area 6 km south of Ballarat. It is situated on the White Horse Range, east of the Yarrowee River. In mid-1855 there was a big gold discovery, Frenchmans Lead, in the range, and a temporary township developed. (Its site is now mostly submerged by a sewerage treatment facility). The name Magpie was presumably chosen from the local birdlife and appears to date from the beginning.

South of that township, at the end of Frenchman's Lane, a Wesleyan church was built in 1857, doubling as a school. A government school, built of brick, opened in 1880. Bailliere's Victorian gazetteer (1879) recorded three quartz mills and identified the main Magpie diggings as White Horse, Cobblers and Long Gully. The population was estimated at 300-400 persons.

By 1900 the population was around 100, mostly engaged in agriculture, a situation which continued until nearly the end of that century. By 2000 rural/residential settlement had brought the population to over 500, strengthening school enrolments. At its low point, Magpie's school was closed during 1894-1914, and the Methodist church and Sunday school ended by 1959. In 2014 Magpie primary school had 52 pupils.

Magpie's census populations have been:

Area Census date Population
Magpie 1891 115
  1911 103
  1947 74
Magpie and environs 2006* 794
  2011 640

*census area differs

Further Reading

S.C. Henderson, Magpie Methodist Church history, 1966