Violet Town is on the route between Melbourne and Albury and is 150 km., north-north-east of Melbourne. It is between Euroa and Benalla and is bypassed by the Hume Freeway (and former Hume Highway) which are to the south.
Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, passed through the Violet Town area in Spring, 1836, on his Australia Felix expedition. He noted in his account of the expedition that several streams and chains of ponds were crossed and one, from which flowers were growing, was called Violet Ponds. That site was one of two (the other being Mitchell town) which were surveyed in 1838 as sites for townships. Violet Ponds was chosen as a site for policing the overland route to Melbourne, particularly after the Faithfull massacre in 1838. (The police post, though, was placed at Benalla.)
Not withstanding Violet Ponds’ official township status, pastoral entrepreneurs were soon acknowledged as being competent to choose settlement places, and Violet Town became only one among many along the Sydney road. However, the surveyed site was flood prone, and a more suitable location to the south-east was settled in 1852 for the township, by when the area was being crossed by travelers to the north-eastern gold fields. It was also known as Honeysuckle, adopting the name of Honeysuckle Creek (formerly Violet Ponds, but being noted for Banksia/honeysuckle rather than violets) and the name of the Honeysuckle pastoral run.
Violet Town was at the conjunction of the Sydney road, the overland telegraph and the tracks to Bendigo and north-eastern gold fields. By the1860s it had three hotels, a Wesleyan school, bakery, several tradesmen and numerous selectors on the former Honeysuckle run. When the railway line was opened in 1873 the commercial area moved northwards from the old High Street to a few blocks away.
By then the gold fields traffic was less, and towns such as Euroa and Benalla overtook Violet Town. Until Violet Town achieved its own local government in 1895 it was part of Benalla shire (1869) and part of Euroa shire (1879).
Violet Town’s street names maintain a floral tradition: Cowslip and Tulip Streets are the main ones, crossed by Orchid, Rose, Lily and Hyacinth Streets.
When Violet Town shire was created on 11 April, 1895, it was in the midst of moderate growth. Rainfall encouraged dairying, but too much rain caused impassable roads, which the Euroa shire was hard pressed to maintain.The Australian Handbook, 1903, described Violet Town –
At the turn of the century Violet Town was probably at a population pinnacle. Wood cutting augmented dairying, but the wood was gradually cutout and rabbit infestation worsened, particularly after the years of good rainfall when rabbits were drowned in the warrens. Between 1911 and 1961the populations of the town and the shire declined, but after then the towngrew. Dwellings in the town grew from 459 (170) to 700 (1994), and the town’s population increased proportionately.
To travelers using either the Hume Highway or Hume Freeway Violet Town has been unrevealed. The town’s streets are attractively tree-lined and uncongested by through traffic: the only through vehicles are the trains. The town has generous public reserves, with a training track, golf course, bowling green tennis courts and a caravan park near Honeysuckle Creek. There are also a memorial hall, swimming pool, bush-nursing home and a library. Away to the south are the Strathbogie Ranges.
The Violet Town shire had 155,000 head of sheep and lambs and 12,000head of cattle in 1994.
On 18 November, 1994, most of Violet Town shire was united with most of Euroa and Goulburn shires and parts of McIvor shire and Seymour rural city to form Strathbogie shire. The balance of Violet Town shire was incorporatedin Delatite shire. Violet Town shire was six months short of its century.
Violet Town’s census populations have been204 (1861), 643 (1901), 444 (1966) and 598 (1991). The shire’s census populations were 2,447 (1911), 1,186 (1971) and 1,443 (1991).
- Chambers, “Don, Violet Town or Honeysuckle in Australia Felix,”,Melbourne University Press, 1985.
- Michael, Ron, “From Petition to Partition: The Shire of Violet Town,1895-1994 in Profile”, the author, 1995?