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Written by Annie O'Riley ( on March 14, 2012

The little community of Officer sits below the Beaconsfield ranges, between Beaconsfield and Pakenham. Consisting of a post office (1885), a State School, milk bar, church and a number of small businesses clustered along the old Princes Highway, all this is about to change.  This little township is right in the middle of a major growth corridor and soon the farmland will be covered with houses, schools and the new shire offices.

The hills above Officer were rich in many different resources.  Gold was discovered in 1870 and clay was dug for the numerous brickworks that dotted the area. There was also a wealth of timber in the scrubby forests that covered the hillsides, all they needed was a railway siding to get the timber to the Melbourne markets and so Mr. Robert Officer campaigned for a siding at the place we now call Officer. Robert Officer, was the son of Dr. Robert Officer (later Sir), a pastoralist and medical doctor with large holdings in the Western District. In the 1870’s “young” Robert retired to Greenbanks, Berwick but he also took up a number of parcels of land in the Berwick/Officer district, both in his name and in the names of his three eldest children. Today if you drive down the Princes Highway, most of the land between O’Neil road and Starling road (and south of Brown road) was owned by the Officer family.

By 1896 drainage had started on the land south of the railway line, making the properties further upstream suitable for orchards and market gardens. The enterprising Eli Harris was one such entrepreneur, but there were many who sought the rich agricultural land.

In 1954 the area was dotted with small holdings, many of which were weekend shacks for business people of Melbourne.  The remaining properties included orchards and small farms: places where families eked out a living on the land. In this mix of residents was an unusual character by the name of Kate Glover Seul.

Written by Annie O'Riley. Annie is the author of and has been researching local history for over 30 years. She is constantly finding new stories and characters to write about.

Relevant Officer Links

He Just Wouldn't Die

A bushranger attempts to kill his victim in the vicinity of Starling road.

Great Neighbours

They were good neighbors, quiet, thoughtful and willing to lend a hand. They had a young family, they ran a market garden but everything was not quite what it seemed.

The Murder of Our Female Recluse

Kate Seul was 80 years old and living in a rough bush hut when she was brutally murdered and her home set on fire.