Steels Creek

Steels Creek is a rural village on the southern slopes of the eastern end of the Kinglake ranges, 45 km north-east of central Melbourne and immediately north of Yarra Glen. The village is linear along the creek and the road going north from Yarra Glen. It is thought that the creek was named after a European settler.

The steep Kinglake ranges are west of the creek and there is a lower range on its east, putting the village in a valley. European settlers came to the valley in the 1880s. Timber cutters and paling splitters did good business, particularly when the railway between Yarra Glen and Melbourne opened in 1888. A school opened in 1886 and a post office four years later.

The cleared land was used for grazing and fruit growing. There was alluvial gold mining along the valley in the 1860s and the 1890s, but it was the farmers and timber workers who settled permanently. In addition to the school and the post office, they supported a store, an Anglican church and a temperance society. There was also a boarding house in the late 1920s.

The school burnt down in 1943 and classes moved to the church. The replacement building lasted until the school closed in 1992 and it was taken over as a community centre. Farms were replaced by rural/residential living, and a winery was established in 1981.

In 2009 the Black Saturday fires destroyed over 25 houses and killed 10 residents of Steels Creek. The community centre survived. Steels Creek's experience is recountered in a memorable book, Living with fire (2009).

Steels Creek census populations have been:

census date population
1911 130
1933 108
1947 112
1961 74
2011 199

Further Reading

Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths, Living with fire: people, nature and history in Steels Creek, Collingwood, 2012

Vera Adams, Steels Creek primary school No 2725, 1886-1986, 1986

Vera Adams, Steels Creek - a social history 1946-1995, Yarra Glen, 2005