Image: Drapery Store
The following article and images were originally published in The Australasian newspaper on 2 May, 1903. We thought that it makes interesting reading and an insight into early Eltham.
A POPULAR HOLIDAY SPOT.
The village of Eltham, with its 377 inhabitants, is prettily situated on the Diamond Creek, a tributary of the Yarra, 16 miles from Melbourne. Yet, in spite of it being so easily accessible from town, few people are aware of the beauties of this early settlement.
Prior to June last year one had to journey by coach from Heidelberg to Eltham, but now the railway conveys passengers through from Melbourne to Eltham, first-class return, for 1/9. The opening of this extension to Eltham was the last ceremony performed by Lord Hopetoun, on June 5, 1902, prior to his departure from Australia. Sauntering through the township one autumn morning recently I was constantly reminded of scenes characteristic of Surrey or Sussex villages.
There is the village pond (so essentially English), reflecting in its clear water a quaint cottage, dwarfed by a huge gumtree, an old smithy, and a hostelry, built quite fifty years ago, the flooring-boards of which the landlord informed me with pride were of Singapore cedar, and quite fit for another fifty years’ wear. Then there are the village school, the shoemaker’s, the drapery store, and the butcher’s shop, all seemingly as they were when first they were erected many years ago.
Poplars grow to a great height at Eltham, and just now they are to be seen in new autumnal tints. The already leafless fruit trees on the slopes of the creek denote the near approach of winter. Orchardists were taking advantage of the recent rains, and were busy ploughing and harrowing between the trees, while the magpies and other birds were picking up worms and grubs on the newly-turned soil.
The busy time for Eltham is the holiday season, and then the inhabitants are put to their wits’ ends to provide for the rush of picnic parties, cyclists, and other excursionists. Outside almost every cottage is a notice stating that “summer drinks and hot water” are obtainable.