Monday, 17 December 2007

Gembrook history

Gembrook was named by early European settler, Albert Le Souef. Le Souef was a member of a syndicate who applied for a lease to prospect for gemstones, in a creek he had called Gem brook. Many early settlers found small gems such as emeralds, garnets and sapphires in the area. Le Souef was also the first official settler in the area when he purchased 129 hectares (320 acres) of land in July 1873. He called this property Gembrook Park.

Other early Gembrook land owners were brothers Alexander and David Crichton; the Backhouse brothers - Albert, Talworth and Edward; John Ure (the owner of Silver Wells) and The Reverend John Bromby, the first Head Master of Melbourne Grammar School. You can read about the life of the Reverend Bromby, here, on the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

The Reverend Bromby  owned the land where the present town of Gembrook is now situated. In 1878 he also donated the land for the Union Church. The growth of the town was spurred on by the arrival of the Puffing Billy railway line in 1900.

This information comes from the interesting book Forest to farming Gembrook : an early history by Genseric Parker. Mr Parker's family have lived in Gembrook since 1908. The book includes many old photographs of Gembrook and information on early families. You can purchase a copy at the Emerald Museum

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