Yarra Ranges Shire
Yarra Ranges shire was formed on 15 December 1994, by the union of Upper Yarra shire and most of Healesville, Lilydale and Sherbrooke shires. Its area is 2467 sq km.
The shire’s western area is urban and rural/residential beginning 29 km from central Melbourne at Chirnside Park. The eastern boundary is near Mount Matlock, 120 km from Melbourne. There are nine wards in the shire, eight in the urban west and the remaining one, O’Shannassy, extending from Woori Yallock to Matlock. It takes up 63% of the shire and 80% of it is State forest. Much of the forest is the Yarra Ranges National Park which is a substantial part of the Yarra River’s watershed and catchment area for Melbourne’s eastern suburbs water supply.
Yarra Ranges shire’s northern boundary follows a dividing range ridge line from the Kinglake Ranges, through the Dom Dom Saddle on the Maroondah Highway to Lake Mountain and Mount Matlock. Its southern boundary borders Cardinia and Baw Baw shires. The arterial roads leading from Melbourne are the Maroondah Highway (eastwards) and the Melba Highway (northwards). The Warburton Highway branches from the Maroondah at Yarra Junction. There were railways from Lilydale to Warburton and Healesville until 1965 and 1981.
The Yarra Valley agricultural and horticultural lands run west form Healesville. They are intensively farmed and wine production is a tourism industry. Tributaries such as Steels Creek and Don River (from the north) and the Little Yarra River and Cockatoo Creek are enclosed by farmlands.
The shire is headquartered at Lilydale, the metropolitan railway terminus and the point where several arterial routes converge. There are branch shire offices at Upwey (former Sherbrooke shire area), Healesville, Yarra Junction (former Upper Yarra shire area) and Monbulk (on former border between Lilydale and Sherbrooke shires).
As well as the Yarra Ranges National Park in the shire’s north there are the Dandenong Ranges in its west. They enclose numerous towns and suburbs along with the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Town and bushland are important tourism attractions, and the Puffing Billy scenic railway from Belgrave follows a narrow gauge route through winding hills and fern gullies in the south of the shire.
There are over 50 places in the Yarra Ranges shire that had or have over 200 people. They can be found by looking at the place names listed in further reading for the former constituent shires.
The Yarra Ranges shire’s census populations have been:
Dandenong Ranges, Yarra Valley, Healesville, Lilydale, Sherbrooke and Upper Yarra shires entries