1. Themes
  2. A to Z


(3782, 44 km E, Cardinia Shire,Yarra Ranges Shire)

Emerald has attracted tourists for over 100 years, and for much of the 20th century its railway station proudly carried the legend 'Emerald, Gem of the Hills'.

Located on one of Victoria's lesser gold diggings (officially declared in September 1859), the township grew rapidly during the 1860s, though in 1861 there were only 52 miners at work in the immediate vicinity. Once known as Main Range, Emerald took its name from Emerald Creek, which in turn was reputedly named after an early prospector in the region, Jack Emerald.

Many of the early prospectors stayed on to pursue less adventurous occupations. The high cost of transporting goods to markets made for a mainly self-sufficient lifestyle. Roads linked Ferntree Gully and thence the city to the west, Gembrook to the east and Pakenham to the south. Potato-growing was introduced in the late 19th century, though it was not a major industry until rail transport arrived.

By the 1890s the township served a rural community made famous by one of its settlers, Carl Nobelius, one of the region's first nurserymen. His display garden remains today as Emerald Park, as does his home, Carramar. His business thrived after the Boer War when thousands of fruit trees were sent to replenish war-torn areas of South Africa. Just out of town another settler, Joseph Bosisto, developed a very early eucalyptus distillery. Bosisto became a worldwide trade mark, still marketed by Felton Grimwade.

In 1900 Emerald was linked to the metropolis via the narrow-gauge railway to Upper Ferntree Gully. For the first time newspapers could be delivered on the same day, while fresh bread arrived from Belgrave (its bag proving a warm seat in winter for the train guard). The line closed in 1955 but was revived as the Puffing Billy tourist line in 1962. Emerald was a terminus of the restored line from 1965 until 1975. The outstanding success of the railway revitalised the town.

Between 1918 and 1925 Vance and Nettie Palmer lived at Emerald, occupying the previous home of friend and poet-playwright Louis Esson. Vance wrote several of his best known works inspired by the locality, including Daybreak (1932). During the 1950s Emerald boasted the first private Victorian art gallery when sculptor Hans Knorr (1915-88) opened his workshop.

Arthur Winzenried