Mount Evelyn is a residential and rural suburb east of Lilydale, 37 km east of Melbourne.
The area was originally named Evelyn, after Evelyn Heales, the daughter of the Victorian Premier, Richard Heales (1860-61). (Healesville was named after Richard Heales).
In 1901 a railway line was opened between Lilydale and Warburton, and the highest point on the line was at Evelyn. In 1909 land was set aside opposite the railway station for a primary school which opened the following year. An Evelyn Progress Association was formed, leading to a mechanics’ institute and hall and the prefixing of Evelyn with ‘Mount’ in 1913, to convey the ‘beauties and natural advantages of Evelyn as a tourist resort’. The change of the railway station’s name to Mount Evelyn happened in 1919.
During the 1920s Mount Evelyn was inhabited by small farming families and people who had weekender dwellings. A Union church, for several denominations, opened in 1920. In a community dependent on buoyant prices for fruit and farm produce, the price falls during the depression years caused hardship, particularly after work ended on the Silvan Dam in 1932.
The war years caused a temporary population increase as some families were evacuated from metropolitan Melbourne, and the postwar years saw an influx of Dutch and Italian migrants. The primary school population doubled to 300 children between 1950 and 1960.
During the early postwar years the area was still noted as a tourist resort, having two attractive picnic reserves on the Olinda Creek. The train excursions to Mount Evelyn ended in 1965 when the railway line was closed.
Mount Evelyn underwent rapid population growth in the 1970s and 1980s. The taking of land for residential living was offset by the provision of public reserves: Mount Evelyn Reserve was incorporated into a much larger Mount Evelyn Forest/Dandenong Ranges National Park, extending southwards to the Silvan Dam water shed; and the railway line and a disused aqueduct became linear recreation spaces.
Mount Evelyn’s shopping centre, west of the former railway station, is accompanied by several community meeting places and churches. At the extreme west is the York and Lilydale resort and conference centre. Mount Evelyn has two State primary schools, a secondary college (former technical school), a Catholic primary school and the Mount Evelyn Christian School (years 1-12), in neighbouring Montrose.
Estimated populations of Mount Evelyn have been: 1953 (1400), 1960 (3500), 1980 (7000) and 1992 (10,200).
Census populations have been:
Jean Edwards et al, Mount Evelyn primary school No. 3642, 1910-1985, Mount Evelyn, 1985