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 Yarra Glen

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The first Europeans to settle in the Yarra Glen district were the Ryrie brothers (William, James and Donald) who established the 43,000 acre Yering run in 1837 after droving their stock to the area from NSW. The Ryrie brothers planted the first grape vines in the Yarra Valley in 1838 and produced their first wine in 1845.

The first white child born in the district was Joseph Furphy at Yering in 1843.

Yering was sold to Swiss immigrant, Paul de Castella, in 1850. At this time the homestead on the property was a pre-fabricated, seven room building. The homestead was extended under the new ownership and the focus of production shifted from grazing to wine-making. The Chateau Yering complex is today comprised of the Ryrie brothers' homestead, which now forms part of the homestead constructed by de Castella in the 1860s and 1870s, as well as a collection of outbuildings.

Yarra Flats Hotel (courtesy Yarra Glen & District Historical Society Inc)

Another important early property in the area was John Dickson’s Gulf Station, further north along the Melba Highway, which he occupied from around 1844. This was also the year his first child, and probably the district’s second white child, was born on the property. Freehold title to the property was acquired by Thomas Armstrong and William Bell in 1858. A small, rectangular cottage constructed at Gulf Station around 1854 grew into a substantial residence as it was extended throughout the 1800s and into the 20th century. A number of timber slab outbuildings also remain on the property today. The original buildings at Gulf Station are probably the oldest wooden buildings in the district.

Gulf Station remained in the Bell family until 1951. In 1976 the Victorian government bought the remaining 16 hectares of the property. The buildings at Gulf Station are now classified by the National Trust and the homestead is today a tourist destination.

A settlement at Yarra Flats, initially known as Burgoyne, began to develop during the 1860s.

The Yarra Flats Hotel (no longer standing) was constructed along the Yarra Track in the 1860s and was trading by 1865. The Yarra Track began at Eltham and passed through the 'Yarra Flats' flood plain on the way to the Woods Point goldfields.

Victoria Hall, Yarra Glen (courtesy Yarra Glen & District Historical Society Inc)

By 1870 the Burgoyne settlement contained a post office, hotel and a primary school. Stock raising and wine production were undertaken on the surrounding landholdings.

The name Yarra Glen was adopted for the settlement following the arrival of the railway between Lilydale and Healesville in 1888-89. The station was named 'Yarra Glen' and this name was soon also taken up by the post office and school and subsequently also by the town.

The Grand Hotel at Yarra Glen was initially constructed in 1888 to coincide with the arrival of the railway. The four-storey, Italianate-style tower was added to the hotel soon afterwards.

Dairying and orcharding were added to Yarra Glen's agricultural repertoire, which also included sheep and beef production, following the decline of the wine industry in the 1890s.

Irvines Yarra Flats Hotel (courtesy Yarra Glen & District Historical Society Inc)

During the 1930s the Yarra Valley's remaining vineyards were converted to pasturage as a result of the Depression and unfavourable natural conditions.

The Yarra Valley wine industry's resurgence began in the 1960s with the establishment of Wantirna Estate in 1963. This winery was followed by the establishment, and re-establishment, of numerous other wineries in the district from 1968 and into the 1980s. The original Yering Station vineyard was replanted in 1989.

The railway line closed in 1980 but later recommenced services as a tourist railway.

The population of the Yarra Glen township grew from the 1980s as it developed as a commuter town for metropolitan Melbourne.

Bell Street (courtesy Yarra Glen & District Historical Society Inc)

Yarra Glen (population 1,371 people in the 2001 Census) is located 52 kilometres north-east of Melbourne in the picturesque Yarra Valley wine growing region, which is today home to in excess of 55 wineries.

Yarra Glen & District Historical Society Inc
Information: The Society aims to collect, preserve and publish the history of Yarra Glen & District, including: Steels Creek, Christmas Hills, Dixons Creek and Tarrawarra. Founded 1973.
Secretary Phone: 03 9730 1875
Contact: Helen Mann (Secretary)
Postal Address:

C/o Post Office
Yarra Glen VIC 3775

Email: yarraglenhistorical@live.com.au
Website: www.yarraglenhistorical.websyte.com.au
   
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