Pakenham Shire

Pakenham Shire (1973-94), an area of 874 sq km in west Gippsland, was created on 1 October 1973 by severance from Berwick Shire. Berwick Shire’s offices were in Pakenham, having been moved to there in 1912.

From north to south the shire extended from north of Gembrook to the middle of the former Koo Wee Rup Swamp. From west to east it extended from Beaconsfield to the Bunyip River.

The shire’s close settlement was along the Gippsland railway (1877). Twenty years later there was a string of village settlements along the Main Drain Road (Koo Wee Rup Swamp), notably Iona and Cora Lynn. The northern hill country had been a rich source of firewood, and its farm communities were scattered.

When the shire was created in 1973, Berwick was changing from a country town to an outer metropolitan suburb, and its neighbours (Hallam, Narre Warren etc) were closely following it. The town of Pakenham had about 2000 people in 1971, with a racecourse/showground next to the shops and railway station. Within 20 years the town had nearly 6000 people.

Pakenham Shire was amalgamated with about half of Cranbourne Shire, completely taking in the fertile Koo Wee Rup farm lands, in 1994. The new shire, named Cardinia, reaches from the Puffing Billy tourist railway to the shores of Western Port Bay.

Relevant census population data was:

Year Pakenham Shire Pakenham Town
1976 15,420 2270
1981 18,500 2671
1986 25,200 3052
1991 28,900 5847

Further Reading

Beaconsfield, Beaconsfield Upper, Bunyip, Cockatoo, Cora Lynn, Garfield, Gembrook, Iona, Maryknoll, Nar Nar Goon, Officer, Pakenham, Pakenham Upper, Tonimbuk and Tynong entries