Tag Archives: Shire of Eltham

ThrowbackThursday: 1934 Diamond Creek Flood

#ThrowbackThursday – In our July 6th post on Ansell and Muir’s chicken shop, we stated that because the store stood within the 1934 flood zone, the property was unable to be redeveloped. Consequently the former Shire of Eltham acquired the land and the building was subsequently demolished. But why did 1934 become the benchmark for our modern day flood zone planning laws? Well today we time travel back to November/December 1934 where we can gain some appreciation of the devastation that flood brought to the district; to its infrastructure and the community.

In early November 1934 much damage was done around the Shire from recent rains, detailed at the Council meeting held Monday, 5th November 1934 (1).

However, worse was to come. On Thursday evening, November 29th, the rains came again, ceasing the following Saturday morning, December 1st. It was reported in the Advertiser on Friday November 30th, more than 8 inches of rain had been recorded at Eltham North that morning; 80% of the annual total and nearly five times that of the previous November (2).

1934 Diamond Creek flooding across Main Road looking towards Eltham at the intersection with Falkiner Street; a Council truck blocking Main Road; Eltham Lower Park on right; Eltham Park Tea Rooms (later Ansell and Muir) on left flooded. The bridge can just be seen on far right centre (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society, donated by the former Shire of Eltham)

The flooding was the highest level recorded in the district for over 40 years. Lower Eltham Park was under 5 feet of water which also covered Main Road  for over a mile (3).

Floodwater from Diamond Creek across Main Road in 1934 at what is present day Wingrove Park. In the distance, left of centre, is Mr. Montieth’s Ford Wagonette stranded in the floodwater near Wingrove Cottage looking up Main Road towards Eltham. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society, donated by Peter Bassett-Smith)

The Diamond Creek rose rapidly engulfing all before it; houses and shops were submerged, livestock and poultry swept away and drowned in the raging torrents, bridges severely damaged or destroyed, fences laid flat and trees uprooted. At 1pm on Friday December 1st, Main Road was under water and cut off. Early in the afternoon, Mr R. Monteith’s ‘bus became stranded near the concrete bridge. The driver and passengers escaped but the bus was stuck there till  the floods receded the following Tuesday morning. By that afternoon it was back in service and people could start returning to their homes. What they found was a six inch layer of slime, which covered floors, furniture and bedding; crockery piled up against doors and window openings, bodies of dead pets which had failed to escape. And in some cases, snakes had sought refuge in the houses. Not since 1868 had floods caused so much damage. The levels recorded were now reported as the highest in 60 years (4).

At a Special Council meeting held Wednesday, December 12th, the Shire Engineer reported that damage was estimated to be £2,000 to roads and bridges; two large bridges being completely washed away. In today’s terms, based on economic project costs that would equate to almost $4 million. A detailed breakdown of damage throughout the Shire and private property was reported. Council applied for a grant towards the cost of repairs and opened a local relief fund through the Lord Mayor of Melbourne’s Flood Relief program for those whose homes had been inundated. It was noted that whilst other districts also suffered, Eltham Shire was particularly impacted not just through the loss of livestock but also because some of the cultivated land had been totally washed away rendering it unusable in the future for further cultivation (5).

Of course over the years Eltham has seen further regular flooding, the most recent significant event occurring Christmas day, 2011. Some of our members can remember the 1934 floods but they were only very small children then. What are your experiences and memories of floods in the area? Do you have any photos to share?

Main Road looking north adjacent to Lower Eltham Park near Falkiner Street in 1986. Ansell and Muir’s Chicken Shop (former Eltham Park Tea Rooms) can be seen at centre.(From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society; Photo: Marjorie North)
Main Road looking north adjacent to Lower Eltham Park near Falkiner Street, Feb 2017 (Google Street View)
Main Road looking north towards Wingrove Cottage adjacent to Wingrove Park, Feb 2017 (Google Street View)
A view of the area showing it in 1945 (Melbourne 1945)


  1. 1934 ‘Eltham Council’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 9 November, p. 6. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747061
  2. 1934 ‘DARING RESCUES AT NORTH ELTHAM’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 7 December, p. 2. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747404
  3. 1934 ‘DISTRICT’S RECORD FLOOD’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 30 November, p. 7. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747355
  4. 1934 ‘FLOODS AT ELTHAM’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 7 December, p. 1. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747374
  5. 1934 ‘SPECIAL ELTHAM COUNCIL MEETING’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 21 December, p. 2. , viewed 17 Aug 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56747561



ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Parade 1982

#ThrowbackThursday – Who can’t resist a good parade? Nowadays the excitement and frequency of parades down Main Street, Eltham seems to have dwindled. Anzac Day, Eltham Spring Festival, in fact any good excuse; we just do not seem to experience them as much now but no doubt everyone can remember back to parades of the past; either participating through various school or community groups or simply watching the show and cheering the floats from the side of the road.

An fabulous display of local flowers and veggies proudly lead the parade down Main Street, Eltham, 1982

Today we time travel back to 1982 and the Eltham Parade as it progresses along Main Road past the Catholic Church heading towards Bridge Street. It was the year the Tasmanian Wilderness Society was in full force with the Save the Franklin River campaign, and Diamond Valley Railway was celebrating 21 years of passenger service.

These images are from a roll of film recently digitised as part of our 50th Birthday project to catalogue our collection on Victorian Collections to help preserve and share these precious moments in time.

Does anyone remember this parade? The time was late 1982 or early 1983; most likely Spring, 1982 and typically of that time of year, towards the end of the parade it poured with rain.

What is a parade without a fire engine to rev up the children (big and small). The Catholic Church can be seen in the background, much the same as today.
The Tasmanian Wilderness Society’s platypus float and Save the Franklin campaign, which resulted in success in 1983.
The Shire of Eltham Historical Society’s float as we used to be formally known as prior to the cessation of the Shire in late 1994.
And what parade in Eltham did not include Jock Read on his faithful mount here leading (but not seen in this image) the Horse and Pony club.
The Living and Learning Centre float
Diamond Valley Railway was founded in 1960 and commenced operations in 1961. Celebrating 21 years of passenger service.
The Victorian Police Marching Band take up the parade rear guard
The Victorian Police Marching Band standing proud in the pouring rain
The Shire of Eltham Historical Society were awarded a certificate by Rotary for the most effort by ‘locals’ in participation of the Eighth Eltham Community Festival 1982.

ThrowbackThursday: Weekly Garbage Service

#ThrowbackThursday – Who remembers the old galvanised steel garbage bin? Who still has one?

Hazard to Garbage Collectors (Damaged bin, Sharp Objects in plastic bags)

Today we time travel back to the 80s to celebrate the garbo man; a person whom we got to know and say g’day to – to a time when the garbo man left you a Xmas card and you left him a slab. None of these sanitised, oversized wheelie bins and trucks where the garbo man operates in a safe, climate controlled environment. Where’s the challenge in that when he can wrestle with a beat up old tin can or a broken plastic one on his shoulder and goodness knows what spikey, smelly things lurking in that green or black plastic bag just waiting to spill all over him. And when you ask how business is, his cheery response invariably is, “It’s picking up!”

Weekly Garbage Service, Shire of Eltham, 1980s

If you would like to see more photos from our collection of around the Shire of Eltham in the 80s then make sure to drop into Eltham Library throughout June and check out the display. We welcome any feedback especially in helping identify some of the people.

World War 1 – Eltham Connections

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

11 March 2015 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Our March meeting each year is the Annual General Meeting, which includes the presentation of annual reports and the election of office bearers for the coming year. The official notification of the Annual General Meeting and the agenda is contained on pages 6 and 7 of the March Newsletter, Issue #221. Copies are available by request from edhs1@bigpond.com.

At this meeting Jim Connor will speak about ‘World War 1 – Eltham Connections’. He will look at the lives of some people with connections to the former Shire of Eltham who contributed to this war effort, either as soldiers, nurses or in other roles.

As many young men from our area lost their lives during this conflict it is considered to be a relevant topic given the increasing interest in this war and being close to ANZAC Day, 25th April 2015; one hundred years from the landing of Australian forces at Gallipoli.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.