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Cranbourne, VIC

Southern suburb - part of Greater Melbourne

Today Cranbourne is an outer suburb of Greater Melbourne - a place known more for its substantial commercial centre, the Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre and the vibrant High Street. The main appeal of the town lies in its impressive Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, a 363 ha extension of Melbourne's Botanic Gardens which specialises in Australian native species, and the attractive McClelland Sculpture Park and Ballam Park Homestead which lie on the road between Langwarrin and Frankston.


Cranbourne is located 50 km south-east of Melbourne via the M1 and the South Gippsland Highway. It is 50 metres above sea-level.


Origin of Name

A townsite was reserved in 1852 and an allotment survey, conducted by Surveyor Foot, occurred in 1856. Surveyor Foot was probably responsible for the name which was inspired either by the Viscount Cranbourne, son of the Marquess of Salisbury, or the village of Cranbourne, near Windsor in Berkshire, England.


Things to See and Do

Cranbourne Botanic Gardens
Located on the corner of Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, and covering over 363 ha, the Botanic Gardens are open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Entry is free. It is an area of native bushland with untouched areas of heathland, wetlands and woodlands. The Australian Garden is notable for its stands of native flora and impressive sculptures as well as a rock pool waterway. Amongst its fauna and flora are 25 species which are listed as endangered or threatened. The gardens were purchased by the Victorian Government in 1970 and designed specifically to complement the Melbourne Botanic Gardens by specialising in native plants and ecosystems. The official site notes: "Visitors to Cranbourne Gardens can enjoy a natural bushland experience and visit the Australian Garden. Facilities in the bushland include over ten kilometres of walking tracks, six kilometres of cycling tracks, a lookout tower, picturesque shelters, barbecues and picnic tables. There is a range of visitor programs, as well as self-guided walks available throughout the year. The Australian Garden, completed in October 2012, celebrates the beauty and diversity of Australian landscapes and flora and features approximately 170,000 plants from 1,700 plant varieties. Complementing the Garden are a visitor centre, café, gift shop and interpretive displays." Check out https://www.visitfrankston.com/royal-botanic-gardens-cranbourne for more information.


Other Attractions in the Area

Ballam Park Homestead
Located 8 km at 280 Cranbourne Road, is Ballam Park Homestead, a beautiful French-style two-storey country farmhouse built by Frederick Liardet in 1854. It is furnished with farmhouse materials from the late 19th century - 1875-1880 and features a beautiful garden, heritage listed trees, period museum with costumes and photographs, tea rooms, research centre and the base for the Frankston Historical Society. The grounds have farm machinery, a blacksmith's shop, a horse and buggy display. The Homestead is open for tours on Sundays from noon  - 3.00 pm, tel: 0449 858 316. For more information check out http://www.frankstonhs.org.au.

McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery
Located 14 km west of Cranbourne at 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin,  the McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, one of Australia’s leading sculpture parks, is set in 16 ha of bushland and surrounded by lakes and gardens. There are over 100 outdoor sculptures by some of Australia’s leading sculptors. The McClelland Café, with a small but classy menu, overlooks the lake. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm and the cafe is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am - 4.30 pm, tel: (03) 9789 1671. Check out https://www.mcclellandgallery.com for more information.

Meteorite Display
No one is sure but the estimate is that sometime between 200 and 1000 years ago a meteorite shower made contact with the earth near Cranbourne. So far a total of thirteen pieces of meteorite material have been discovered, the first in 1853 in Devon Meadows and the last at a market garden in Clyde in 2008. These “rocks” are comprised predominately of iron and are incredibly heavy. The largest piece is at The National History Museum in London and weighs 3.5 tonnes. This 3.5 tonne meteorite is the second largest ever found in Australia. 
In 1853 Cranbourne Meteorite #1, weighing 3.5 ton (3,550 kg) was found. It is currently at the British Museum, London.
In 1853 Cranbourne Meteorite #2, weighing 1.5 ton (1,525 kg) was found. It is currently at the National Museum, Melbourne
In 1857 Cranbourne Meteorite #3, weighing 15 lbs (6.8 kg) was found. It has been lost.
In 1923 Cranbourne Meteorite #4, weighing 1.25 ton (1,270 kg) was found. It is currently at the National Museum, Melbourne.
In 1923 Cranbourne Meteorite #5, weighing 7 cwt (356 kg) was found. It is currently at the Victorian Mines Department, Melbourne
In 1923 Cranbourne Meteorite #6, weighing 89 lbs (40.5 kg) was found. It is currently at the Victorian Geological Survey Museum, Melbourne
In 1923 Cranbourne Meteorite #7, weighing 3 cwt (153 kg) was found. It is currently at the Geology Department, University of Melbourne
In 1923 Cranbourne Meteorite #8, weighing 52 lbs (23.6 kg) was found. It is currently at the Victorian Geological Survey Museum, Melbourne
In 1876 Cranbourne Meteorite #9, weighing 165 lbs (75 kg) was found. It was widely distributed
In 1886 Cranbourne Meteorite #10, weighing 18 cwt (914 kg) was found. It is currently at the National Museum, Melbourne
In 1903 Cranbourne Meteorite #11, weighing 15 cwt (762 kg) was found. It is currently at the U.S. Museum, Washington
Full-scale replicas of twelve meteorites were on display at the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Camms Road but they were vandalised and have since been removed.



* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Boonwurung Aborigines.

* The first white settlers, the Ruffy brothers, arrived in 1836 and settled on the Mayune run. They later opened the Cranbourne Inn.

* A townsite was reserved in 1852.

* Some town allotments were offered for sale in late 1852.

* In 1853 the first meteors from a meteor shower were found in the district.

* An allotment survey occurred in 1856. The Mornington Farmers' Society was founded that year.

* Cranbourne Post Office opened in 1857.

* In 1860 a number of meteorites landed in the area. The largest, at 1.5 tonnes, was then considered the world's largest.

* A Turf Club was formed in 1860.

* Cranbourne was proclaimed a town in 1861.

* The Shire of Cranbourne was created in 1868.

* A Shire Hall was built in 1875.

* A major cattle market was established at Cranbourne in the 1870s.

* The railway from Melbourne reached the town in 1887.

* A market gardening industry emerged after World War I with the arrival of Italian immigrants.

* By 1986 the population had reached 14,005. This occurred because of massive suburban development in the area.


Visitor Information

The closest Visitor Centre is the Frankston Visitor Information Centre, 7N Pier Promenade, Frankston, tel: 1300 322 842, open seven days 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.


Useful Websites

There is no dedicated website for Cranbourne but the Frankston site has information about the district. Check out https://www.visitfrankston.com.

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