City of Melton
On behalf of the Mayor and Councillors of the Melton City Council, welcome to this exhibition celebrating 150 years of our city.
Melton City Council is proud to have been awarded the 2022 Victorian Community History Award for Digital Storytelling, presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.
In February 1871, the Melton Roads Board passed a motion to declare Melton a shire. This formality marked a crucial moment in the origins of the community of Melton as we know it today. This online exhibition has been created to mark 150 years since this historic event took place.
Nine years before the creation of the shire in 1871, the Melton Roads Board had been declared at a meeting held at the Melton Hotel on 20 October 1862. In essence, the establishment of the Roads Board marked the beginnings of local government in the district. This elected assembly of prominent settler men began implementing some of the pivotal duties of a municipal council, including rate collection and the management of local infrastructure.
The first white settlers came to the Melton area from the 1830s, and the decades leading to the 1860s saw a steady increase in settler populations. This came with an accompanying need for roads, bridges, civic offices, and other amenities. By 1865, the Melton Roads District spanned 73,600 acres and had a population of 1,000 people living in 212 dwellings. This rapid growth in population has continued more or less unabated to this day. The current population of the City of Melton today is 185,500 and is projected to reach 264,000 over the next twenty years.
With the needs of the settler community expanding and requiring more structured civic planning and oversight, the Melton Roads Board became the Melton Shire Council, which held its first meeting on Saturday 8 April 1871 at the Monmouthshire Hotel in Diggers Rest.
These events connect the people of Melton with the governing systems and structures that make the city the vibrant and dynamic place it is today. Yet, to view them on a timeline of human activity in the area, they represent just a moment. While communities such as Melton celebrate their foundation stories and the people and events that led to the thriving towns and cities of today, there are also crucial stories that can be less visible in the historical record.
The stories of the First Peoples of this land, whose lives on this very same Country span millennia, are an awe-inspiring part of this history. Until only around 200 years ago, these people cared for and managed the landscape that was their home, their source of nourishment and their spiritual base. In the area around what is now known as Melton, this is the story of the men, women and children of the Kulin Nation.
This exhibition explores the story of the people of the Kulin Nation, and the arrival of European settlers. It follows Melton through its early pastoral history and the gold rush. It shows a township coming together during two world wars and the Great Depression. It looks at the big transformations brought by post-war growth and suburban development. And finally, it covers the establishment of new suburbs and looks to the future.
Much of the material in this exhibition is taken from the 2018 book Growth, Progress and Community Spirit: a history of the Melton district, which is available in local libraries. We hope this exhibition will inspire you to seek out the book, in order to further explore Melton’s fascinating history.