These are just a few small glimpses in the 1800's of the place we know today as Craigieburn

1865 Baillier's Gazetteer

Craigieburn - (county of Bourke)

A small hamlet in the parish of Kalkallo on the Merri Creek and Sydney Road, about 3 miles from Donnybrook.  The country is undulating and occupied by a few small farmers.  The land is not considered good for agricultural purposes and has scarcely any timber.  The hotel is Craigieburn.  Basalt, Sandstone and fossils.

The Roads in the 1800's

Craigieburn has always been an early stopping place on route to Sydney.  It was the first and the last of the staging posts for coaches using this easterly route.  From the time of first settlement until the overpass was built in 1962, which then diverted Sydney Road around Craigieburn, the township was part 'of the Sydney Road' now known as the Hume Highway and Sydney Road passed directly though Craigieburn.

From the earliest days of European settlement, a northwest track existed much along the same line as the present Hume Highway but one of the first route northwards travellers used in 1836 was just a dray track from the Yarra settlement, passing John Batman's farm at Flemington Hill, across Mooney Ponds through Bulla Bulla then Sunbury and
then on to John Aitken's run at Mt. Aitken which then was the outer
limit of civilisation in 1836.

These roads crossed a basalt plain with a surface of clay, winter rains did not drain off, creating an impassible quagmire.  During these wet seasons, the most commonly used route taken by early travellers is described in the book "Bulla Bulla" and states 'by 1839 the more daring travellers had begun to use the more direct route.  Commencing at the end of Elizabeth St, it crossed the Moonee Ponds near the start of the present day Tullarmarine Freeway and followed the general path taken by Pascoe Vale Road, where J. P Fawkner has established his 780 acre farm "Bell View". Continuing northwards to the
present city of Broadmeadows, the track veered westwards to enter Mickleham
Road near Kenny Street, leaving behind the last vestiges of civilisation
before reaching the watering holes at Greenvale, Yuroke, Mickleham and on to
Pretty Sally, Kilmore and beyond'. 

The alternative route northwards from Melbourne in early times was via Newton (Collingwood), Irishtown (Preston), to Darebin Creek at Epping and on to Pikes Water Hole just north of Wollert.  Next day they pressed on in a northwesterly direction to Kinlochewe using Mt. Ridley at Craigieburn as a guide and crossed the natural ford at Merri Creek on Summerhill Rd and often stayed overnight,  then pressed onto the Rocky Water Holes at Kalkallo and on to the Big Hill (Pretty Sally).  This route across Merri Creek was reliable during dry months but flash floods and heavy rains made it unreliable and impassible in the winter wet months, so came the need for a more reliable direct route.

The new more reliable route 'The New Sydney Road' was projected in 1841 and work on it began and was further east than the existing Mickleham Road wet weather route.  The new route was marked out and the removal of the trees followed with the smoothing of the surface. This work reached as far as Albert Street, Brunswick and in 1847 the main road reached Pentridge.

In 1848 it was noted in the Port Philip Herald 'that the great drawback in the wretchedly impassable state of the roads, in fact the great thoroughfares of the colony are no thoroughfares at all and unless some steps are taken to improve them, in the even of the wet season, the progress of drays and teams must be greatly retarded if not wholly obstructed.   Many parts of the Sydney Roads are in a shameful state.  Evan go no further that from Pentridge to Kinlochewe, it is in some respects one of the worst, roads that can be travelled'.

This new alignment of Sydney Road  was gazetted as a public highway on the 14th of November, 1850 traveling through Pentridge (Coburg), (was originally called Pentridge Road, as it connected the city with Pentridge prison and this particular part was renamed Sydney Road In 1859), and carried on from Pentridge through Cambellfield and across the swampy plains of Somerton, through Craigieburn and headed northwards to meet the older, more used Mickleham Rd at the foot of the Big Hill (Pretty Sally). 

Gold was discovered in 1851 causing the flow of traffic to increase with travelers to the gold fields at Ballarat and Bendigo and businesses flourished on Sydney Road.  Many were established to supply the miners on their trek north to the goldfields.  By 1853 The Government Gazette was referring to 'the road from Melbourne' indicating the use of a regular route through, then it was little more than an unfenced dirt track.  It was reported that during this period the roads were gradually fenced but were still unmade and a succession of quagmires in winter and a cloud of dust in the summer.

In Pretty Sally's Hill  by J.W. Payne it says, 'eventually a road board was formed and given the job of of building and constructing adequate roads and bridges and backed by funds'.  He goes on to say by 1853 Edward Bradley [who was also at one stage the rateable owner of the Craigie Burn's Inn site] and took a contract to construct a ford across Malcolm Creek, just north of Craigieburn and several tenders were hired to cut drains and stockpile metal along the road.  In 1854 tenders were signed to construct six miles of of road north of Somerton and on to Kalkallo.

A toll gate was placed across the road at Mt. Ridley in 1854 as part of a network intended to raise money for road construction.  This route was the early beginnings of Sydney Road and the Hume Hwy as we know it today which passes through Craigieburn.

In 1914, the Hume Highway (then still named Sydney Road), which had originated as the first rough, unfenced, dirt track between Sydney and Melbourne was declared a main road and in 1928 the NSW and VIC governments jointly named the former Sydney Rd the Hume Hwy.  In 1961 the first four lane section of the Hume Highway was constructed in Craigieburn.  In 1962 the overpass built at Craigieburn eliminated the manually operating railway gates and a better flow of traffic. This diverted Sydney Road around Craigieburn and the old route became the Potter Street we know today which was once Craigieburn's town centre.

In some places, the highway has been deviated several times since the first rough track was made between Sydney and Melbourne in the 1840s.


1868 Baillier's Postal Directory of Towns

County of Bourke

Postal hamlet on the Sydney Rd

Distance 15 miles.

Mail leaves Melbourne 11.30 am arrives at 1.40 pm

Leaves for Melbourne 6 pm and arrives 6.30 am.

James E. Kearne,  Postmaster

ANDERSON, And., farmer, Somerton

BENNETT Thos., farmer Kinlochewe

BLACKBURN, Jas, storekeeper, Somerton

BLAKEY, Charles, farmer, Somerton

BOOKLESS, George, Jno., & Thos ., farmers

BRADY, A., missionary

CAMERON, Ewan, farmer, Merri Creek

CAMBELL, William, blacksmith

CHAMBERS, Ths., catrctr., Somerton

CHESSEL, Geo. & William, farmers

DEAGAN, Mich., cntrntr., Somerton

DUERIN, Mary, servant, Banchor

DUNN, Edward, sheprd, Summerhill

EDOLS, John, farmer, Dunhellen

FOREMAN, Peter, hotelkeeper, Somerton

GALLAGHER, Jno, cntrctr., Smrtn

GODFREY, F.R. Sqttr., Mt.Ridley

GORDON, Finlay, farmer, Banchor

GRIFFIN, T., farmer, Merri Creek

HARRISON, A., farmer, Somerton

HEARNE, Jno.Jas., & Wm.Hy., farmers

HEWITT, J., labourer,  Mt.Ridley

HILL, John, hotelkeeper, Somerton

Hill, Jos., Thos & Wm, carriers

HOSKINS, John, farmer, Kinlochewe

KEANE, James E., postmaster

LOWRIE, J.H., farmer, Merri Creek

LYNCH, M., farmer, Merri Creek

MALCOLM, James, farmer, Olrig

McKENZIE, Hector,  carpenter

McLEAN, Duncan & Roderick, farmers.

NOBLE, T., Natl. School teacher

ORR, James, farmer, Somerton

PATON, Peter, taylor, Somerton

PATULLO, James & Wm., farmers

PRICE, Thos., labourer, Summerhill

ROBERTSON, Jas., fmr., Somerton

THOMPSON, Wm., fmr., Somerton

TONKIN, John, farmer, Somerton

WILSON, Thomas & Wm., farmer

WRIGHT, John, farmer

ZIEBEL., J., farmer, Summerhill.


"Glimpses of North Eastern Victoria" by the Rev. W Finn 1870

(The good Rev. W. Finn traveled from Melbourne to NSW by Cobb and Co coach in 1870 and kept a diary of the views and places he saw along the way.)

'Craigieburn is soon reached, if
this latter town be so called after it's Celtic original, and if ever should
be required as a site for an Australian Fair, then the position is most
suitable on a plain, and a grand spot for one of those enlivening hurling
matches similar to those which used to take place in Melbourne amongst
gallant tips before Batman's Hill was trampled away by the feet of an Iron


1879 Baillier's Gazetteer

(after the railway came to Craigieburn in c1878)

A small hamlet in the parish of Kalkallo on the Merri Creek and Sydney Road, an is a station on the north eastern railway about 3 miles from Donnybrook.  The country is undulating and occupied by a few small farmers.  The land is not considered good for agricultural purposes and has scarcely any timber.  The hotel is Craigieburn.  Basalt, Sandstone and fossils.


Wises Post Office Directory 1884 - 85

Postal Directory of Craigieburn

16 miles north by rail Seymour or North Eastern line.

I church, post and telegraph office, agricultural and pastorial.

BARRET, Henry, station master

BARRET, William, school master

BESWICK, William, farmer

EDOLS, John, squatter

HILL, John, hotel keeper

KEENE, Andrew, station overseer

LARTER, J.W. station master

LOWRY, Dr., surgeon

MALCOLM, James, farmer

MALPAS, W.J., squatter

PATULLO James & William, farmers

ROBERTSON, John, farmer

SHERWIN, John, squatter

WRIGHT, William, farmer

ZIEBELL, Carl, Bacon Curer










Wises Post Office Directory 1888 - 89

Postal Directory of Craigieburn

16 miles north by rail Seymour or North Eastern line.

I church, post and telegraph office, agricultural and pastorial.

BARRET, William, school master

CARROLL, P.M., station master

CLEVERDON. A.S., squatter

HANN, F., squatter

LOWRY, Dr., surgeon

ZIEBELL, Carl, Bacon Curer


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