Launching Place, a rural township with a substantial residential area lies along the fertile flood plains of the Little Yarra and Yarra Rivers.
When the Wood Point and other Gippsland goldfields were discovered a track was cut from Melbourne through the vicinity of Launching Place. Supplies were brought in by the track as far as Launching Place, and were then transported further upstream on flat bottomed boats, which were launched at that location. (More commonly, though, goods were transported on horses along pack tracks).
John and Catherine Ewart arrived in Launching Place in the 1840s, where they set up a store, hotel and post office. The Home Hotel, known first as Ewart’s, began as a large slab and bark building. During the 1860s the hamlet was also known as Ewart’s after the Ewart’s Home Hotel.
Launching Place gained a railway station when the line between Lilydale and Warburton was opened (1901), but its school did not come until 1926. The railway made Launching Place accessible for tourists for the forest scenery and fishing, and a boarding house provided accommodation additional to the Home Hotel’s. Local industries included sawmills, dairying and fruit growing.
The original village centre is near the hotel, where the Yarra River flows close to the main road and the Don Valley Road. The railway station and train line were also nearby. The Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail runs along the dismantled train line through Launching Place.
The Wanderslore property was gifted to the Trust for Nature in the 1980’s by Miss Constance Coleman as a sanctuary for the preservation of native plants and wildlife. Miss Coleman was an artist, poet and teacher with a deep attachment to the Upper Yarra Valley. Her studio remains in place today and is the meeting place for the Friends of Wanderslore Group. The property contains excellent remnants of three local vegetation types and is a haven for local wildlife such as wallaby, wombat, echidna, antechinus, possum species, bush rats, bats, reptiles and many bird species. If you want to visit, keep an eye on Open Days organised by the Friends of Wanderslore group.
‘Launching Place’, Victorian Places, 2014, accessed on 6/3/2023
“The Upper Yarra: An Illustrated History” by Brian Carroll 1988