Pakenham Upper is a rural district north of Pakenham, extending to Gembrook. Its village centre, on the Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road, is 54 km south-east of central Melbourne.
Originally known as Gembrook South, the wooded hills of Pakenham Upper were settled in 1872, in particular along a bridle track between Pakenham and Gembrook. Within about five years the bush community built a church, which also served as Gembrook South’s first school. Later a hall served the same purpose, until the purpose built school was constructed in 1923. The Gembrook South post office (1882) was named Pakenham Upper in 1913, an early example of the modern name.
Land clearing for farms was accelerated by the demand for wood when the Gippsland railway line was built in 1876-77.
Closer to Pakenham there was a village settlement in the 1890s, and the Salvation Army had a boys’ home (1900) in the vicinity of Army Settlement Road. Pakenham Upper, like Toomuc, had numerous orchards and a local packing shed.
Pakenham Upper’s school was closed soon after the Pakenham Consolidated School opened in 1951. A far sighted shire council acquired land in the north of Pakenham Upper in 1972 for the R.J. Chambers flora and fauna reserve.
Pakenham Upper’s village has a Uniting church, a recreation reserve and a public hall. Further south there is the general store, and further south again a hall on Army Road. Pakenham Upper’s census populations have been: