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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

Remembering Wallaby Creek

A recent conversation with a Whittlesea group interested in collecting stories of Wallaby Creek reminded me that both Whittlesea and Kinglake can claim links with the history of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) settlement that was once located in the forest on the western side of Flowerdale Road. Wallaby Creek was part of the first system of reservoirs and aqueducts set up to supply water to the city of Melbourne. The Yan Yean Reservoir was completed in 1857 and, when an increase in the water supply was required, the Toorourrong Reservoir was added in 1885.

The Wallaby and Silvery Creeks were re-directed south through granite channels to the Toorourrong Reservoir which acted as a settling basin. The site of the contractors' camp became the headquarters for the MMBW staff who patrolled the channels and aqueducts and operated a nursery there. At any given time, several families lived there and accommodation was also provided in the large lodge for MMBW visitors. The settlement was known simply as Wallaby Creek.

Wallaby Creek Lookout

The first resident caretaker at Wallaby Creek was Phillip Lorenz who was appointed in 1883 and held the position for 20 years. Phillip and his wife, Mary, were required to prepare the accommodation and provide meals for MMBW visitors. According to a report in the Fitzroy City Press in February 1897, a party of inspection, headed by the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board, Mr E. Fitz Gibbon, and comprising members of the Officers and Servants Committee and the Engineer for Water Supply, Mr Dowden, made a tour of the two reservoirs and stayed for two nights at Wallaby Creek. The caretaker's wife made quite an impression on the visitors, the newspaper report stating 'Mrs Lorenz has a reputation as a cook and, on this occasion, she added to her laurels, the locally-raised poultry being placed on the table in a manner which secured the heartiest approval.'

During his time at Wallaby Creek, Phillip Lorenz took up a lease of 179 acres of land at Pheasant Creek where he established a farm, walking or riding his horse over at weekends to gradually clear and cultivate the land. When he retired from his caretaking duties in 1903, he and his wife and family of four children came to live on the farm and take part in the activities of the Kinglake West community.
Over the years, many families lived at Wallaby Creek and the children attended school at Kinglake West. William and Mary Ann Olney were the new caretakers in 1903 and their sons, William, Roderick, Neil and Raymond, are on the Kinglake West State School roll, both William and Roderick being also listed on the Kinglake West World War 1 Honour Roll. In the 1950s, the Nance, Holding and Blair families lived at Wallaby Creek and the children were brought down to school at Kinglake West by the 'Board truck', a large utility vehicle, usually driven by Mr Ray Holding, the head nurseryman.


Visitors to Wallaby Creek have long-lasting memories of the beautiful gardens and the calm serenity of the place, set in the bushland so far from the busy world outside. I remember staying there with school friends - playing tennis, walking to the fire look-out tower, which was a huge gum tree, and visiting the fire dug-out. I also remember the lovely wedding reception of Dorothy Holding and Bert Blair which was held in the dining room of the Wallaby Creek lodge in 1947. Sadly, the Wallaby Creek buildings were destroyed in the 2009 fires so memories are all we now have of this part of our history.

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2 Comments


Peter Lorenz
Peter Lorenz
Jan 15

thank you for information phillip lorenz was my great grandfather always wondered what happend to the farm at pheasant creek now i found out it was leased maybe 99 year lease my grandfather jacab lorenz took over and they grew spuds my dad henry lorenz always talked abiut the massive spuds he grew

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djatkin
Apr 10, 2023

Thank you for the memories. I grew up in Humevale during the 1950's and 60's and had been to the Wallaby Creek area in that time. My family were friends with the Holdings. I was looking for the location of the area on google maps , but now realize that all was destroyed in the 2009 fires.

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