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Upper Yarra Shire (1888-1994), an area of 1740 sq km, was created in 1888, when the only settlement of note was Warburton. Its first office was in East Warburton.

The shire encompassed the headwaters of the Yarra River as far west as Woori Yallock, 50 km east of central Melbourne. Travelling east, the shire ended near Matlock, on the crest of the Dividing Range, 100 km from Melbourne. Three quarters of the shire was forest, exploited for both timber and water supply. Domestic water was captured for both the Upper Yarra and Thomson dams (1957, 1983), the latter in Narracan shire.

Warburton had been a gold mining town and then a timber harvesting, farming and tourist place. A railway from Lilydale was opened in 1901, stimulating the development of Yarra Junction and providing the means for conveying timber from Powelltown and related products from the Britannia Creek timber-treatment works (1907). The O’Shannassy water scheme (reservoir and aqueduct to Surrey Hills, Melbourne) was completed in 1914.

Reticulated electricity came slowly to the shire. A private supply to Warburton was switched on in 1920, but extensions awaited connection to the State grid. It began at the Upper Yarra Dam site in 1949 and worked down the Yarra valley and its tributaries: Woori Yallock in 1952, Yellingbo in 1959 and Powelltown in 1961. Electricity supply to Warburton was important for the elaborate chalets and resorts and for entertaining patrons at the local cinema.

From the early 1970s to 1991 the shire’s population more than doubled. Urban growth was marked in Launching Place, the settlements adjoining Warburton (Millgrove and Wesburn) and Woori Yallock. Some farms were acquired for rural/residential living. Yarra Junction replaced Warburton as the shire’s headquarters.

Upper Yarra shire was amalgamated with most of Lilydale and Sherbrook shires in 1994 to form Yarra Ranges shire.

Source: "Upper Yarra Shire', Victorian Places 2014, accessed on 6/3/2023

Further reading: Brian Carroll, The Upper Yarra, an illustrated history, Yarra Junction, 1988

In 1946 Upper Yarra shire was described in the Australian blue book*:


* The Australian blue book : a national reference book containing information on matters Australian from authoritative sources for all members of the community / edited by W.J. Beckett. The blue book was published in Australia between 1942 and 1950.

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