Strathfieldsaye is a rural/residential town 10 km south-east of Bendigo. It is situated on Sheepwash Creek, which is fed by run-off from forested ridges with relatively impermeable soils. The creek is consequently subject to rushes of water and is a cause of flooding.
Strathfieldsaye was probably named after the Hampshire estate awarded to the Duke of Wellington in 1817. It also inspired the name of Strathfieldsaye shire. The shire hall (1869) was beside the Duke of Wellington Hotel in Strathfieldsaye until a new hall and offices were built closer to Bendigo in the 1970s.
Good agricultural land was found along the Sheepwash and Emu Creeks and was used for dairying, fruit and vegetable growing for the Bendigo markets. There were a number of vineyards in the district: Ebeneezer Ward described four along Sheepwash Creek in 1864. A school was opened in the shire hall in 1873, and a permanent school building was provided two years later.
In 1903 Strathfieldsaye was described in the Australian handbook:
Strathfieldsaye is separated from Bendigo by the Mandurang and Kennington State Forests, and urban expansion was contained behind the forests for many decades. Until containment was breached, Strathfieldsaye remained an agricultural township, well regarded for natural springs and bracing air. By the 1970s, however, rural/residential subdivisions encroached on Strathfieldsaye, taking advantage of the attractive landscape at the confluence of the Emu and Sheepwash Creeks. The town is on the Bendigo-Redesdale Road (also known as Wellington Street) between Club Court and Blucher Street. It has a general store, a supermarket, sporting facilities, tavern, the shire hall (1869), the State primary school (467 pupils, 2014) and a Catholic primary school (1994).
A new community plan in 2009 addressed issues ranging from improved cycling and walking paths to accessing recycled water. From 2012 a new supermarket was proposed followed by two new housing subdivisions in 2013 and a review of traffic.
Strathfieldsaye’s census populations have been:
*part outside Bendigo only
Tim Hewat, Bridge over troubled waters: a history of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, South Melbourne, 1983