Melton situated 40 km west of Melbourne CBD is the administrative centre of the City of Melton. Situated on the volcanic basalt plain created due to volcanic activity millions of years ago, two extinct volcanoes Mt Kororoit and Mt Cottrell are still visible on the horizon. The tribal names of the aborigines inhabited in the area prior to European arrival were Woiwurung and the Woddowerong. The natives disappeared from the district shortly after the opening of railway station in 1884.
Melton Township grew from its earliest landmarks, an eating house erected on Pyke’s station, the Temperance Hotel, the bakery to the east of Toolern Creek and the Lord Raglan Hotel to the west. A visitor to the district in 1850’s considered Melton to be the nucleus of a future important township that will grow rapidly. He noted Melton’s treed setting, an important indication of rich soil that must support such a luxuriant growth.
A grid layout for the original township was surveyed by Robert Russel in 1852 and a small township sprung out. Prolonged drought in the 1860’s meant ruin for many of the first settlers and seasonal flooding forced the town to be relocated westward to higher ground in its present location.
Early references to Melton can be found in plan prepared at the time of the Batman Treaty in 1835. It is generally believed, surveyor William Wedge Darke made the first maps of the area in 1837. References to deserted houses in Darke’s writings suggests that whalers or escaped convicts may have also explored Port Phillip hinterland in the times before recorded settlement. The district of Melton was declared a shire in 1871.
Pyke brothers settled in Australia between 1838 and 1844. Pykes were the first to settle close to Melton. They grazed their sheep on an area extending from the Kororoit to Djerriwarrh Creek. William was the first of the brothers to settle in Melton in 1838, taking up land on the Pennyroyal Creek. William Pyke was a registered surgeon and his brother Thomas was known as Gentleman Pyke. He was a keen huntsman and introduced hunting into Melton. He was also responsible for importing foxes into Australia in 1845. Pykes Hunt was one of the highlights of the Victorian Calendar, bringing a slice of the old country to the new land. The hunt was held at the banks of Toolern Creek and it is from this pursuit Melton was named. A huntsman suggested that Melton should be named after the fashionable hunting ground Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire , England.
Simon Staughton was the second settler in the district who took up land at Exford in 1841. At the time of his death in 1863, his estate known as Exford was around 100,000 acres.
A plan of “Parish of Djerriwarrh’’ shows first subdivision of 1839. Lots of approximately 80 Chains by 80 Chains were unsuccessfully put on sale in 1840, however the lots sold readily a few years later. In 1852, lot 8 was further subdivided to become Melton Village. In 1856, Melton was proclaimed a postal village and was under the control of NSW Roads board. The Goldrush ensured rapid growth and by 1862, Melton had become the centre of a thriving pastoral district of 73,000 acres, boasting a population of 1000 with a church, schools, hotels and 1200 permanent homes. Melton’s growth as a postal village was due to its location at an easy crossing of Penny royal Creek on the way to the goldfields.
Initially a resting place where many tracks met, Pennyroyal creek provided a cool watering place before continuing the journey inland. The surrounding rich basalt plains proved ideal for cropping and grazing. It was around the time of Victoria’s goldrush in the 1851, Melton’s growth really began.
In 1974, Melton was declared a satellite suburb. Melton is separated from Melbourne’s urban area by a green wedge. The two green wedges are Western Plains North and Western Plains South. Green wedges are the non-urban areas of metropolitan Melbourne that lie outside the Urban Growth Boundary. Considering the current urban growth pressure, it is fair to assume that the green wedge areas will soon be reclassified as urban growth areas.
The urban area of Melton consists of seven suburbs with locality of Melton at its centre. The other six suburbs are Melton South, Melton West, Brookfield, Kurunjang, Toolern Vale and Harkness. High Street in Melton is the main business centre. Woodgrove Shopping Centre at Melton West is the major shopping precinct in the area. Another small shopping centre is in Melton South near the railway station.
Melton Visitor Information Centre: 323 High St, Melton VIC 3337
The Djerriwarrh Festival is held in November. In 2020 the festival has been put on hold due to COVID restrictions. The main highlight of the festival is a street parade in High Street.
Melton is also the home of the harness racing complex Tabcorp Park, and is the base for Harness Racing Victoria.
Attractions of Melton
Raglan Cottage – details at https://tomelbourne.com.au/raglan-cottage/
Melton Mechanics Institute – Details at https://tomelbourne.com.au/melton-mechanics-institute/
Willows Historical Park – https://tomelbourne.com.au/willows-historical-park/
The courthouse located at the corner of High and Palmerston Streets, dates from 1892.
Major Parks and Gardens
Hannah Watts Recreation Reserve – Details at https://tomelbourne.com.au/hannah-watts-park/
Melton Botanic Gardens – Details at https://tomelbourne.com.au/melton-botanic-gardens/
Long Forest Flora Reserve – This 600-hectare nature conservation reserve is situated between Melton and Bacchus Marsh. There are many walking tracks at the reserve. This is also popular for bird watching
Melton Waves Leisure Centre
Melton Waves Leisure Centre has a wave pool. Patrons can have all the fun of the waves in a safe and supervised environment. The centre has seven swimming pools including toddler pool and warm water swimming pool used for swimming lessons and aqua aerobics classes.
More details at https://meltonwaves.com.au/
Toolern Creek Heritage Trail
This self-guided heritage trail takes through former sites of the racecourse, the original townsite, Pennyroyal Creek Station and other establishments.
Melton Reservoir – Details at https://tomelbourne.com.au/melton-reservoir/
The City of Melton is part of the Sunbury wine region. There are many wineries at short driving distance from Melbourne.
1507 Keilor Melton Hwy, Plumpton
557 Leakes Rd, Plumpton
760 Holden Road, Diggers Rest
Here is a Newspaper report appeared in “Melton Express’’ about Old Melton on 23rd February 1929. We are reproducing it here for our readers ( accessed from Trove on 12th June 2020)
Melton looks back to an early history. Mr. Simon Staughton settled at Exford in 1841, when he purchased the land which later became well known as the Exford Estate, noted for its production of valuable sheep.
The original homestead (which was one of the first two-storey houses erected) remains on the Estate. At the time of his death in 1863, Mr. Simon Staughton owned between 85,000 and 100.000 acres of land, comprising Exford, Eynesbury, Staughton Vale and Nerowie stations, areas which he had purchased from time to time.
Mr. Harry Staughton, son of the early pioneer, who was born on the Exford estate, occupied the estate until a few years ago, when he retired. Although the Staughtons were owners of these very large estates for many years, they have now passed out of their hands. Exford was recently purchased by Mr. John Sutherland, who follows sheep raising.
Mr. C. H. Robertson, the noted polo player, also has a portion of the Exford Estate.
The late Captain Tom Staughton, D.S.O.; M.L.A., who took a very keen interest in local matters, was in possession of Eynesbury Estate: His son, Mr. Simon S. T. Staughton, was in occupation until recently, when it too, was sold.
Owing to Melton being surrounded by large estates for many years, the progress of the town was very slow. Among the families who figured in the early history of the district were Pykes who owned land immediately adjoining the site of the town, which was surveyed in 1856.
Later, the activities of the Closer Settlement Board, combined with voluntary subdivision of the large properties, led to a marked change, both in the town and district. The Board purchased 8,000 acres of the Exford Estate, at £8 an acre, and cut it into blocks, which were sold again at £14 per acre.
Sir Rupert Clarke subdivided and sold the famous Rockbank estate, the greater part of which averaged £5 per acre.
After the death of Mr. Walter Browne, the major portion of Green Hills Estate was subdivided. The last of the big Estates about Melton, Mt. Kororoit, owned by the late Mr. John Moylan, has also been subdivided.
All these have now given settlement to a large number of prosperous farmers, thus bringing about new development and population. Brooklyn Estate, until recently owned by Mr. S. John Staughton, who took a keen interest in local matters, and was a Shire Councillor for many years, was purchased by Mr. B. A. Thomas, who carried out many improvements on the property, and afterwards sold it to Mr. A. G. Cook.
For the past 40 years the district has been producing crops, which have been the admiration of other districts. At the beginning very little hay was grown, as it was considered that the average rainfall was too low.
In the early eighties, Robinson Bros, put in a small area under crop, and harvested up to 25 cwt. to the acre. Since then the district has become famous as a hay growing district. Melton is noted for the excellence of its hay, a surprising quantity of which is produced, notwithstanding the comparatively light average annual rainfall.
Under favourable conditions, vegetables grow well, and, if a permanent water supply were established in the district, many great changes would come about.’ Even under the present conditions, with a scarcity of water, milk and cream are forwarded daily to the city. The motor traffic, which is fast increasing, is having a . material effect on the production of hay; and as time goes on, and horses become fewer, will have a greater effect, and landowners in the Melton district will have to give the matter deep consideration as to what their land can produce instead of hay.
Two chaff mills are situated at the Melton railway station, and form the main industry. The town is one of the oldest in the State. In the early days it was part of the Port Phillip Settlement.
The railway line was built as far as Melton in 1884, and was opened on April 2nd of that year. At the Banquet held in honour of the event, the Premier of the day (Hon. Duncan Gillies) and Hon. Alfred Deakin (Chief Secretary and Solicitor-General) were amongst the guests, who also included Mr. Robb, contractor for the line, and Sir William Clarke.
The Werribee river flows near Melton, and has a large embankment constructed across it at Exford, the water stored thereby supplying Werribee district with irrigation. Good fishing can be obtained in this reservoir, which is a very popular fishing ground, and is kept well stocked by the Fisheries Department.
The river is spanned by the famous railway viaduct, at a spot above the weir, where there is a considerable sheet of water, and this structure is over a quarter of a mile in length, and 128 feet above the level of the river bed. When the reservoir is full, the water submerges part of the huge piers on which the bridge stands. The construction of this viadupt was completed in 1884.
All the iron work for’ the bridge, which is of a lattice construction, was brought from England. It is built on a concrete foundation 40ft. deep. The bridge has stood the test and strain for over 40 years, and remains a testimony of the efficiency of the engineers of the day. It cost £150,000.
Many changes have taken place since the early days of Melton, and there still live here many who have watched the district’s progress’ over long periods. Melton is noted for the breeding of – good racehorses. Mr. E. E. D. Clarke, owner of the Melton Stud Farm, has bred winners of all the classic turf events—such as the Derby and Melbourne Cup. There are also breeders of good trotting horses.
There are three Churches is Melton: Christ Church (Anglican), Presbyterian, and St. Dominie’s (Roman Catholic). The foundation stone ‘ of Christ Church was laid by Miss ‘Staughton (afterwards Mrs. S. Spensley) daughter of the late Mr. Simon Staughton, .in the year 1864. Within the Church many memorials have, been erected to perpetuate the names of former members of the Church.
The Presbyterian Church foundation stone was laid in 1865, by Mcintosh, Green Hills Estate. Rev. J. Lambie was the first minister. St. Dominic’s Church is a handsome brick edifice and was erected many years “ago. it contains a fine stained-glass window in memory of the late Rev. Father Horan, who was Parish Priest for many years.
Two State Schools—one at Melton and the other at Melton South—provide for the education of the rising generation. Melton Mechanics’ Institute, which contains a fine library, is very popular and has been built up to present day requirements. It is managed by a live committee. In front of the Institute is an imposing monument of grey granite, erected in honour of the brave local soldiers who rendered services in the Great War, and whose names it bears.
Melton possesses a very natural Recreation Park, used for sports meetings, football matches, &c.
During the Back to Melton celebrations, which are now being held, many former residents will return to their Old Home Town, and many happy remembrances will be renewed.
Some residents recall the early days when the gold rushes were on, which made busy scenes along the main Ballarat road—now called the Western Highway. Time changes everything! In place of the old horse drays, bullock waggons and coaches we have the continual stream of fast motor traffic. With it has come a better road. If some of the old pioneers could only return and see how Time has changed things, it would be a revelation to them. Some of the present old residents say things are “too fast.” However, we are living with the times, and must keep up with them. Science will improve matters so much that in a short time roads will not be in such a congested state, but aero men will look down from. their ‘planes and watch the moving world ! So Time continues to change all things, and so all hope that Melton will keep abreast of modern ideas.