Matlock 3723Matlock, situated on the Great Dividing Range, 110 km. east-north-east of Melbourne, was the site of a goldfield and of a supply town for other gold fields in the nineteenth century. It was the highest township in Victoria.
The nearby goldfields were the Jordan, Woods Point and Gaffneys Creek. All were difficult to reach either from Melbourne or Gippsland. In 1862 and 1863 gold mines were opened either side of the Dividing Range about two kilometres apart, near the future site of Matlock.
By the end of 1863 a township had developed, called Emerald Hill. Because there was already an Emerald Hill in South Melbourne, the Board of Land and Works changed the name to Matlock in 1864, by when about 1,000 miners were working the area.
The town had two banks, followed shortly by a school (1865), churches, lodges and thirteen hotels. The town was sufficiently prosperous to attract Ashtons circus in 1866. By the end of the 1860s Matlock's prosperity was dented by the track to Wood's Point bypassing it and by gold discoveries further afield. In 1873 the town was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt down from the summit, and the site is marked by a picnic shelter.
In the 1890s a new boom at the Loch Fyne and the All Nations mines injected fresh prosperity, and the 1904 Handbook gave the population as about 450. A school was opened between 1898 and 1911. By the 1920s only a handful of residents remained in Matlock, the two notables being the proprietor of the hotel, who stayed there after it was delicensed, and the postmaster. The Black Friday bushfires, 1939, destroyed the few remaining buildings on the summit, along with a timber mill. A sawmill operated between the late 1950s and 1975, and when it closed all but two cottages were removed.
Matlock had census populations of 257 (1871) and 303 (1901). No further census figures were published.
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