Kangaroo Ground is in the Yarra Valley some 33 km east of Melbourne between Eltham and Yarra Glen. It was the first farming community to establish in the Yarra Valley past Heidelberg.
Its first families were all Scottish, most arriving in Victoria aboard the sailing ship ‘David Clark’ in 1839, each family later buying, on average, 150 acres of rich volcanic soil upon which by the mid-1850s they were growing around 2,000 acres of wheat, oats and vegetables.
The extreme productivity of Kangaroo Ground farms saw its farmers become a power in the land. In need of roads to transport their farm produce to market they established a Road Board which in 1871 became the Shire of Eltham, a municipality governed from Kangaroo Ground for a remarkable 69 years. By 1873 Kangaroo Ground had its own county newspaper.
Despite such claims to fame it never developed past village status. Much like today, all that it could ever boast was a general store, a church, a school, an hotel and a scatter of farmhouses. Its people’s main focus, instead, remained on farming. With each paddock fenced in sturdy post-&-rail, heavily backed in hawthorn to ward off the kangaroos that had given the district its name, not even the roads were allowed encroach on farmland until quite recent times. Today it retains much of its Scottish pastoral flavour with a stone tower, based on a Scottish keep, on its highest hill, commemorating past wars, that these days performs the role of watch-tower defending its people against summer bushfire.
Visit the Andrew Ross Museum in the school-grounds opposite the general store . open each Thursday morning and every first and third Sunday afternoons . and learn more about this remarkable little town. Visit the tower and its iconic Moor-rul Viewing Platform or take a stroll along the Gawa Aboriginal Resource Trail on nearby Watsons Creek. Visit the delightful pioneer cemetery, the oldest still in use in the Yarra Valley. Don’t bother about a cut lunch! The 110 year-old general store opposite the museum serves the best snacks you’ll ever enjoy.