Kinglake 3763Kinglake, comprising forest, farmland and a national park is 46 km north-east of Melbourne in the Kinglake Ranges, part of the Great Dividing Range. The area is extensive, and includes Kinglake West, Central, and East.
The earliest industries in the area were alluvial gold mining and timber getting - the first gold discovery was Moore's Rush in 1861. In 1878 Alexander Kinglake, historian and surveyor, marked a track from St. Andrews across the ranges to Glenburn, and his name was given to Kinglake. After the gold discoveries settlers began clearing the timber. The Kinglake primary school was opened in 1879, and schools at Kinglake West and Kinglake Central were opened in 1896 and 1898. Some massive trees grew in deep soil, and the cleared land yielded good crops of stone fruit, pome fruit and berries. Competition from Tasmanian berry processing caused berry growers to be replaced by potato farmers after the first world war.
Although not as famed as the Dandenong Ranges for views and fern gullies, the Kinglake district nevertheless had some tourist trade and guesthouses. In 1928 the Kinglake National Park was proclaimed, shortly followed by some subdivisions for farmlets. Timber milling had a relatively long life, and some mill workers took up farming as the mills closed.
By 1940 potato growing predominated, orchards being confined to around the small Kinglake township. During the postwar years until 1980 the Kinglake district's population fell, but by 1991 the earlier figure was nearly regained. The loss arose from the amalgamation of small holdings, and the gain from Kinglake's later proximity to the metropolitan fringe.
Kinglake has a few shops, a medical centre, Anglican and Catholic churches, a saw mill, a fire brigade and memorial hall. The census populations of all the Kinglake localities have been 382 (1911), 653 (1954) and 584 (1991).
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