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Timeline of Harcourt History

From time immemorial this valley was home to the Dja Dja Wurrung who cared for the land from horizon to horizon. Our timeline necessarily begins with the commencement of recorded events.
1840 E S Parker, Protector, came into the valley to contact the liarga balug clan of the Dja Dja Wurrung.
1841 William Ward depastured sheep in the valley for St Agnes squatting run.
1845 Dr William Barker established a homestead on the south bank of the creek which now bears his name.
1846 Hawkin’s Inn established at Porcupine Hill
1851 Discovery of gold at Specimen Gully by Dr Barker’s shepherds and bullock driver. Large influx of hopeful diggers.
1853 Samuel Sutton grows and sells Harcourt fruit and vegetables to goldminers. Harcourt township surveyed by E W Bagshaw.
1857 First Harcourt orchard land prepared by William Eagle, Henry & William Ely and Nathaniel Vick.
1859 William Eagle buys fruit seedlings from Watmough’s  of Greensborough to share with other pioneering orchardists. Harcourt Primary School, No. 299, opened by Henry Hayden BA
1860 Railway construction of the Melbourne to Murray Railway. Big encampments of construction workers at Harcourt and at Porcupine Hill.
1862 Duffy Land Act makes selections of land available to settlers, Railway opened. Dr Barker left the district.
1863 Joseph Blight sends 36 tonne granite monolith to Melbourne via Railway for Burke & Wills monument.
1865 First burial at Harcourt Cemetery, of Robert Young, a child. Wesleyan Church built and opened.
1866 Coliban Water Supply System begins with construction of Malmsbury Reservoir.
1867 Barkers Creek Reservoir built by contractor Edward O’Keefe. Sawmill established by Robert ‘Redgum’ Barbour.
1870 James Lang delivers Harcourt fruit into Melbourne Markets.
1874 Victorian Ladies Sericulture Company establishes mulberry plantation and grows silkworms on south flank of Mount Alexander
1877 Completion of Coliban water channel system, 77 km of gravity fed water from Malmsbury to Bendigo. Harcourt Cricket club formed.
1880 James Lang exports Harcourt apples to London, wrapped in cotton wool and packed in gin cases.
1881 Specimen Gully channel brings water into Harcourt valley, initially destined for sluicing.
1885 Catchment race completed for Barkers Creek reservoir.
1886 Harcourt Apples win overseas prizes at colonial and Indian exhibitions
1888 Harcourt Football Club formed. harcourt granite used for columns in prominent Melbourne buildings.
1892 Subdivision of the large landholdings at Harcourt North opens new areas for settlement.
1894 Formation of Harcourt Fruitgrowers’ Association
1900 Establishment of saw mill and case factory for fruit industry by Gartside Bros. Oak Forest planted at Picnic Gully
1902 Quarrymaster John Jennings achieves fame for the largest-ever block of granite (5,000 tons) ever moved in quarrying operations.
1908 Harcourt Cooperative Fruit Drying factory in operation. Harcourt North further subdivided for orchards and cultivation.
1910 Extension of irrigation channels to service northern and western areas of the valley. First pine tree plantations.
1911 ANA Hall built.
1914  C. Seelenmeyer opens cement tile factory on bank of the creek. Governor of Victoria Sir Arthur Stanley, opened the 18th Conference of Victorian Central Fruit Growers association in Harcourt, Inaugurates Stanley Park and plants Bunya-Bunya tree.
1915 Wartime conditions prevail, Royal Commission takes evidence from Harcourt fruitgrowers. Harcourt Patriotic Committee active.
1918 Harcourt Cooperative Coolstore built.
1928 J H Lang leads a car convoy along Mount Alexander to prove the feasibility of a tourist road, resulting in the construction of Joseph Young Drive.
1930 Fruit Mart operates as an outlet for produce from the valley’s 3,000 acres of orchards “Doctor Apple” brand adopted.
1931 Harcourt branch of the Country Women’s Association formed.
1933 The year of a peak season for apple exports with 404,000 bushel cases exported. One hundred men working at the packing sheds and case factory.
1941 Wartime conditions prevent export of fruit. Apple & Pear Marketing Board rescues the industry.
1944 Harcourt Rural Fire Brigade was formed.
1949 First consignment of Harcourt fruit to be sent by road carried to Brisbane Qld, by J J Leech.
1951 Pre-school Centre commences operation at Methodist Hall, (opens purpose-built building in 1954)
1953 Harcourt Cooperative Fruitgrowers Ltd operates a sawmill, case factory and bulk supply company.
1958 Fire destroys Harcourt Coop Coolstore and rebuilding begins.
1960s Electrically-powered cranes installed at the granite quarries, adapted from cranes used to build Melbourne skyscrapers.
1970s Experimentation with intensive planting of fruit trees, on new rootstocks, leading to dramatic improvement in fruit yields.
1980s New methods of irrigation, hail and storm covers and new varieties of apples planted.
1991 Harcourt Leisure Centre opened.
1992 Inaugural Harcourt ‘Applefest’
1995 Schools at Harcourt North, Sutton Grange, Barkers Creek & Ravenswood South closed, New Harcourt Valley Primary School opened.
2001 Coolstore destroyed by fire, rebuilt within the year.
2002 Reticulated sewerage scheme inaugurated for Harcourt township.
2007 Just two quarries operate on Mount Alexander. Within Victoria, granite production is entirely from Harcourt
2009 Calder Freeway opened, bypassing township area.
2011 Census reveals valley to have a population of 1172 persons, living in 540 private dwellings.
2013 Harcourt Community Plan developed, see https://www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/Files/Harcourt_Community_Plan_2.pdf