Beaconsfield Upper 3808Beaconsfield Upper is 45 km south-east from Melbourne's central business district in the Shire of Cardinia.
Gold prospectors were the first residents of the forested foothills now known as Upper Beaconsfield, which is about fifty kilometres east of central Melbourne. In 1872 H.J. Valentine discovered gold in Hunted, later called Haunted, Gully and at one time there were two hundred miners working the gullies south of the town. Timber was then taken from the area by loggers.
Settlement progressed slowly until amended land laws allowed smaller subdivisions and several twenty acre blocks were selected. A large boarding house, known as Beaconsfield House or Big House Hotel, was built. The district became well known for its scenery and healthy air, and large numbers of people travelled by train to the nearby station and were carried up to the hotel in horse drawn vehicles. A number of large houses were built, often with extensive gardens and panoramic views.
Many orchards, growing apples, cherries, lemons and other fruit, were established around the turn of the century. The post office, opened at Beaconsfield Hotel in 1878, was known as Beaconsfield, but after the railway station was named Beaconsfield in 1881, the district has become known as Upper Beaconsfield.
An Assembly Hall was built in 1884, with library and tennis court. There was a school, post office, stores, recreation ground and another hotel, the Pine Grove. Beaconsfield House was destroyed by fire at the turn of the century. The area was devastated by the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. The hotel and shopping centre have been rebuilt and there is a memorial to the twenty people who perished at Upper Beaconsfield during these fires.
The acreage in orchards has declined in recent years. However Upper Beaconsfield has been rediscovered again, with people moving there for the peace, clean air and views. The increased population has ensured many community services, including nursing homes, a golf course and facilities for mothers and children.
Beaconsfield Upper had census populations of 247 in 1933 and 487 in 1966, and an estimated population of 1338 in 1994.
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