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Kangaroo Ground

(3097, 31 km NE, Nillumbik Shire)

Just beyond Melbourne's north-eastern outskirts, Kangaroo Ground occupies a small oasis of rich soil in a generally less fertile region. Its virtues, well known to Aboriginal people, were soon discovered by European settlers. A network of families, mostly Scottish, prospered on the land from 1839. They opened their own church and school on ambitious lines under teacher Andrew Ross during 1851. Located on the road from Melbourne to the Caledonia gold diggings, the settlement prospered in the 1850s. Never surveyed as a township, Kangaroo Ground nevertheless achieved some importance, with churches, hotel (the first opened by Ross in 1864), printing office for the Evelyn Observer (1873) and the Eltham shire office located in various local premises (1868-1937). The steep hillsides and muddy terrain, however, always made access difficult, and after the railway reached Eltham (1902), Kangaroo Ground declined. Ironically, its relative isolation guarded the locality against suburban despoliation and it now enjoys some planning protection, with prestige properties on broad acres. Its highest point (237 metres) is marked by a war memorial lookout (1926).

Andrew Lemon