(3160, 35 km E, Yarra Ranges Shire)
Belgrave is one of the larger towns in the Dandenong Ranges. For many years now its progress has been closely linked with the Puffing Billy railway which begins its journeys from the town.
Belgrave was one of the more distant spots in pastoralist James Clow's original run. Later subdivisions saw the spot incorporated in the Glenfern run. Early settlement focused on the area now known as Tecoma with the present Belgrave site being established with the coming of the railway. Belgrave, the name of an English town in Leicestershire, was so called after the property of a local councillor, E.W. Benson.
Located atop a saddle formation, Belgrave has formed something of a gateway to the southern section of the Dandenong Ranges. Its early development was centred around the timber industry, subsequent prosperity due in part to strategic positioning on the roads and then the railway into the higher hills. Construction of the narrow-gauge railway (opened in 1900) included a station in the town, officially named Monbulk but later changed to Belgrave. Arrival of the line improved transport to the region and Belgrave became the focus for considerable traffic from Monbulk, Kallista, Olinda and The Patch.
J.T. Mahony was a celebrated figure in the early town. An estate agent, timber merchant and businessman, he played a prominent part in establishing local government before moving to Mont Albert. His place as civic leader was to some extent taken over by C.T. Alexander, a former Brighton newspaper proprietor.
The town grew as transport improved, becoming an important tourist focus from 1900. Visits by notable Melbourne crime figure Squizzy Taylor to The Chalet tea-rooms created considerable local interest. During the 1950s Aboriginal craftsman Bill Onus operated a shop and demonstrated boomerang-throwing on the Monbulk Road just out of town.
The restoration of Puffing Billy in 1962 brought a new wave of tourism. Urban development increased following electrification of the railway between Belgrave and Ringwood and thence the city in 1958, while hill properties and improved roads gave commuters cheap housing. Belgrave is at the entrance to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, and the impacts of urbanisation have been blamed for a decline of native flora and fauna.
Belgrave South and Belgrave Heights are residential areas south of Belgrave, the latter the locality since 1950 of the Belgrave Heights Convention.