A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published June 29th 2014
On the Trail of History
Hurstbridge lies 26kms north-east of the Melbourne CBD. I visited recently with members of the camera club of which I'm a member. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit; I had no idea what a charming and historic town Hurstbridge is.
Hurstbridge has a rich history; it was first settled in 1842 by Cornelius Haley, a grazier. The town was first called 'Allwood' after a homestead of that name which was built on the 'Allwood' run. However, in 1859, Haley employed an English surveyor, Henry Hurst, to manage the Allwood run. Hurst built the first log bridge across the nearby Diamond Creek. The bridge soon became known as 'Hurst's Bridge', and has since been shortened to 'Hurstbridge' to give the town its current name.
Interestingly, on 4th October 1866, Henry Hurst was fatally wounded by a bushranger, Robert Bourke. Bourke was captured and tied to a wheel of a wagon under a tree (now known as Bourke's Tree) until Sargeant Fawcett and Trooper Hall from nearby Queenstown arrived. Bourke was tried, found guilty of the murder of Henry Hurst and was later hanged. Hurst family graves can be found at the western end of the town.
Hurst family graves
The train line was extended to Hurstbridge in 1912, which encouraged settlement within proximity of the station. Consequently, many of the buildings in the area were built around that time. The Post Office, for example, was also built in 1912. These days, part of the Post Office building has been converted into a cosy café.
The Post Office, built in 1912, now houses a cafe as well as the Post Office
Prior to the installation of the train line, the area had been largely agricultural (orchards, nurseries, mixed farms). Before that, there had been gold mining in the area.
With so much history surrounding the town, it's perhaps not surprising that various Hurstbridge community groups have collaborated to develop a 'Hurstbridge Heritage Trail'. A downloadable map shows 30 places of historical significance in the Hurstbridge township. They are within a radius of perhaps 1.5kms, so it's easy to amble around and look at the places marked on the map. Just pick up the trail as it suits you.
Hurstbridge also has some interesting shops and cafés to explore. There is no shortage of antique and bric-a-brac stores in the area. It's also on the doorstop of the Yarra Valley wineries - there are five within a 10 minute drive of the town.
Station Master's house
I think Hurstbridge is a hidden gem, and well worth a visit. It has retained its rustic feel, and is a genuine escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.