MYSTERY SOLVED – looking eastwards across the Watsonia Drain and along Lower Plenty Road at a point just opposite Bannockburn Road (on the right, out of view). The main direction of sight is looking down the new alignment for Lower Plenty Road where a bulldozer is clearing for its construction towards the new Lower Plenty Bridge.
#MysteryMonday – Today’s image is of a rural highway scene, most likely within the former Shire of Eltham. It has been digitised from a single frame of medium format 6 x 6 negative so no surrounding images to help identify or date. But it is believed to be mid 1960s. The scene depicts a rural highway sweeping around to the right as it crosses a creek running from left to right.
There is a house in the upper centre of the image and just behind the house to the upper left can be seen a high voltage transmission tower. In those days, the only transmission lines in the shire were running through the Lower Plenty district. The transmission lines running north through Research and northwest were yet to be constructed so that should assist in identification.
Can you solve the mystery and help us to catalogue this image?
Following our earlier article about the origin of road and street names let us look at the history of Main Road as it meanders through parts of Nillumbik and Banyule. It is one of the most identifiable roads in the district and in its earliest days was in fact the main road through the area. While perhaps a bit unimaginative, it was just came to be called Main Road through common usage.
Main Road starts at the Plenty River, Lower Plenty, the western boundary of the former Shire of Eltham. It continues through Lower Plenty, Montmorency South, Eltham and Research to the boundary of Kangaroo Ground at Bells Hill Road. Beyond this point its official name is Eltham-Yarra Glen Road while west of the Plenty River it is known as Lower Plenty Road.
Main Road has its origin in a proclamation in 1840 under the Parish Roads Act of a road “between the” Suburban Allotments in the Parish of Jika Jika (North Fitzroy and the Village Reserve in the Parish of Nillumbik (Eltham). In many places the alignment of the road followed the dray track to Yarra Flats established by the Ryrie brothers more than ten years earlier.
From the Plenty River the road passed through the land that had been recently purchased by Benjamin Baxter. It followed the line of today’s Main Road and Old Eltham Road and ended at today’s Bolton Street.
In 1850 a track along the Old Eltham Road route continued on towards Kangaroo Ground, roughly following the line of Main Road through the proposed Government township of Eltham and unsold Crown land. However, Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision north of the township reserve made no provision for a through road, although between Dalton Street and York Street, Maria Street (Main Road) generally followed the well-worn track to Kangaroo Ground.
Soon after the land was subdivided the Government established a road along the line of this track through private land, the township reserve and further north, which then completed the formal road link to Kangaroo Ground
In 1869 the Eltham District Road Board opened a new road from Lower Plenty to Bolton Street, bypassing Old Eltham Road, which is what we now use when travelling along Main Road. Together with this new section and the formal connection to Kangaroo Ground, the whole length of today’s Main Road came into being. However, it would be many years before the road proclaimed in the 1850s provided convenient all weather access. How things have changed!
Prepared by Russell Yeoman and Jim Connor from the Eltham District Historical Society
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia