Keilor Historical Society Inc.1990
Keilor Overview.

A brief introduction to the history of Keilor area

Photo left: The Maribyrnong River (formerly known as the Salt Water River).
One million years ago, molten lava erupting from volcanoes, buried earlier landscapes. As the Maribyrnong River (known previously as the Saltwater River), flowed in a series of meanders. It cut deeply into the basalt plains to form the present landform.

Megafauna - which included a kangaroo three metres in height, as well as diprotodon – roamed the plains until their extinction 13,000 years ago, when climatic changes associated with the end of the last Ice Age, took place.

Evidence indicates that Aboriginal people inhabited the area for at least 40,000 years, or a span of 1600 generations, making it among the oldest known human inhabited sites in Australia. The Wurundjeri, believed that their way of life in the valley was given to them by Bunjil, their great ancestral being, who had created the land, its people and their culture. It was Bunjil who showed them how to live in harmony with their environment, respecting it and all living things.

The Wurundjeri enjoyed a rich lifestyle in the Maribyrnong Valley, which provided them with a varied and healthy diet; animals skins for their winter cloaks; bark for canoes, containers and shields; and stone for tools. They led complex social and cultural lives interacting with other tribes of the Kulin nation.

Charles Grimes in 1803, and Hamilton Hume with William Hovell in 1824, journeyed in the area, as they assessed the agricultural potential of the Port Phillip Bay region. In 1835 John Batman described the Keilor Plains as "the most beautiful sheep pasture I ever saw".  It was not until the 1850s and the Gold Rush Period that Keilor could claim any notoriety. At that time it became a ‘stop-over’ on the way to the goldfields and the 'Village' became a bustling community with several Blacksmiths, Hotels, Caroline Chisholm Shelter Sheds and other assorted businesses.  Orchards, market gardens, farmlands, flat grasslands and river valley landscapes constitute what Keilor looked like for almost 100 years but then there was a massive change to suburbanisation with the Post World War II immigration programme.  Cheap land, industrial estates in the western suburbs of Melbourne and available work, represented the attraction to this area.