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About Healesville

Brief History

With the development of the rail network to Gippsland and the Yarra Valley goldfields in the 1860’s, a small settlement grew on the Watts River. The settlement was named Healesville in honor of the reigning Premier of Victoria, Richard Heales. On May 1st, 1865, the post office was opened. The town grew as the Yarra Rail Track expanded to the Woods Point Goldfield during the 1870s.

Sawmilling, horticulture, tourism and viticulture are the primary industries in and around Healesville.

The Yarra Yarra or Wurrundjeri Aboriginal Group was settled at the Coranderrk Aborginal Reservation on Badger Creek, 5 kilometers south of Healesville in 1863. This connection adds history and a certain mystique to the area.

Today, the Yarra Valley Tourist Train operates from Healesville Station every Sunday and on most public holidays and Wednesday through Sunday during school holidays.

Location

Healesville is a small town on the Watts River, a tributary of the Tarra River, in Victoria. Located 52-kilometers northeast of Melbourne’s central business district. Governance is administered by the Shire in Yarra Ranges. In 2006, the census posted total population at 6,567.

The town setting is idyllic with surrounding mountain vistas, rolling hills and rich forests that combine to provide a spectacular backdrop. The Yarra Valley contains some of Australia’s most distinguished grape plantations. The region is dotted with appealing wineries that has sparked more tourism and given credence to the belief that a good time can be had by all visitors.

On the high ground, northeast of the Marroondah Reservoir, spacious picnic facilities offer breathtakingly panoramic views.
Tourism

In the 1920s, Healesville’s Tourist and Progress Association published “Healesville, The World-Famed Tourist Resort.” The publication noted 40 beauty centers, 20 hotels and an assortment of guest houses. After the completion of the Maroondah Dam, Healesville suffered a prolonged setback and coupled with the Depression, the town and surrounding areas were challenged to survive.

In the late 1930s, an increase in motor tourism raised the town’s spirit and earning potential. Tourism has continued to mount periodic rallies in tourist trade, prompting a local newspaper to comment that the community would benefit more by calling itself a good-time town than the world-famed-tourist resort. A good time can always be had in historic, hospitable Healesville.

Attractions

The famed Healesville Sanctuary is one of Australia’s leading nature parks. The semi-open setting lends itself perfectly to the hundreds of native Australian animals. The sanctuary features a platypus breeding program. Just 3 kilometers east of the Sanctuary, the Badger Weir continues the fantastic reptile and bird experience.

The Main Street bustles with activity from artisan shops including deli’s, chocolatiers, antics and funky home wares. It also hosts fabulous café’s (organic and not!) and “The Memo” – Healesville’s newly reopened large presentation space for productions in cinema, theatre, music and other live performances. Healesville also hosts numerous farmers markets.

During the Summer, Rochford Winery hosts a number of music events and open air cinemas. We have seen greats such as Cold Chisel, Meat Loaf and Ice House, with Elvis Costello on the line up this summer.

The area also hosts Twilight Cellar Doors and this summer will see eight Yarra Valley Cellar Doors staying open until dusk every Friday and Saturday evening throughout January and February.

What a great way to spend early evenings relaxing at these stunning Cellar Doors and taking in all the Yarra Valley has to offer. Enjoy a glass of wine matched to local produce whilst the sun slowly sinks and a cool breeze refreshes and invigorates.

Sporting Attractions

Healesville has a great tradition for sport of all kinds. The Healesville Tennis Club competes in Eastern Region Tennis on the junior and senior levels. The Healesville Amateur Racing club has long hosted picnic racing and competitors vie for the prestigious Healesville Cup every year. Not to be outdone, the Healesville Greyhound Racing Club sponsors regular racing sessions. Golfers enjoy the picturesque RACV Country Club course on Yarra Road.

Despite all these sporting attractions, residents of Healesville are most passionate about Australian Rules Football. The town is called The Bloods that sports a long tradition for producing Australian Rules Football players of national acclaim.

Healesville Notables

For a small community, Healesville boasts a significant number of notable personalities whose roots were in the town. Australian Rules Football Players Gordon Collis, Andrew Moore, Kelvin W. Moore and David Wirrpanda enjoyed success on a number of teams.

Noted Aboriginal artist, William Barek, a Wurrundjeri elder, and Wurrundjeri elder Joy Murphy live in the Healesville area. Luke Dennehy of the Herald Sun and Lex Lasry, a Supreme Court Judge, have roots in Healesville.

Healesville In Film and Television

Healesville and the environs has been home to several high profile films and television series. The Australian TV series, Young Ramsay (1977), Feliciity (1979) and the Life on Earth, a natural history series along with Frog Dreaming (1986) were successful programs staged in Healesville.

Feature films Harry’s Wars (1999) and Killer Elite (2011) were also filmed in Healseville.