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Written by Annie O'Riley ( on February 7, 2012

The township of Pakenham grew around the three vital necessities of life: fresh water, transport and liquor. The water was supplied from the Toomuc Creek. The transport moved along the track known as the Gippsland Road. And the grog? Well, the grog was supplied by a little establishment called the Latrobe Inn. The Latrobe Inn later became Bourke’s Hotel and even later The Highway Hotel. Today you would have known it as the hotel on the corner of Toomuc Valley Road and the Princes Highway. Unfortunately it has recently been demolished and rebuilt with only the facade and chimney kept. This hotel was the oldest building in Pakenham and was in constant use since 1848 when a hotel licence was granted to Thomas Mahony at Howey’s Creek, Westernport district. Howey’s Creek was subsequently referred to as Minton’s Creek and then later as Toomah or Toomuc Creek and each of these names were in some way used as the original names for the Pakenham district. Captain Howey took up a squatting license in the area in 1840 and at the same time Thomas Minton purchased a lease of 1045 acres for the sum of £1619 which was later called Mt. Pleasant. When Thomas died, his brother Christopher took up the lease and and his sister added the Mt. Ararat run. Nowadays, the Mt. Pleasant area is between Toomuc Valley Road, Brown Road, Thewlis Road and the Princes Highway. In 1843 the Mt. Pleasant Lease took up the area (very roughly) of the entire township of Pakenham today.

Pakenham originally grew along the Gippsland Road (the Princes Highway) and the Toomuc Creek near the hotel. By 1859 there was a Post Office attached to the hotel and a semi regular mail service. Travellers trying to get to Gippsland could take a coach as far as Dandenong, then a dray from Dandenong to Berwick. From Berwick to Pakenham it was more difficult and horses were used. By 1874 the roads had improved and there was a Cobb and Co. service providing transport from Melbourne to Pakenham and beyond.

In 1877 the train line between Oakleigh and Drouin was completed but the train station was situated 3.5 kilometers from the existing settlement. Much of the township moved towards the train station and confusion was caused with two settlements and two post offices. Many articles refer to “old Pakenham” being near the Toomuc Creek and “New Pakenham” being near the train station. Eventually this was settled with the train station area being called Pakenham East. The Post Office near Toomuc Creek closed in 1974 and slowly the use of Pakenham East was dropped with the whole area now being known as Pakenham.


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 Pakenham Links

Young Elizabeth McMullen

The Unluckiest and Unloved Settlers

Lieutenant Christopher Minton was a miserable creature. He caused upset, chaos and death wherever he went but bad luck got him in the end.

The Botanic Garden's Mass Murderer

Once Bitten, Twice Ouch

John Hourigan was bitten not once, but twice by a black snake at the Pakenham Railway Station

A Lucky Dog

Constable Keogh's dog had a little accident.

A Passenger Drops In

A heroic chauffeur saves the ladies.

The Sly Grog Riot

In 1879 a riot occurred at Henty's Quarry. This is the site of our present day (2012) Shire of Cardinia Offices. The quarry hosted a bustling camp full of quarry workers and railway builders and they did not take kindly to having their sly grog shops shut down.

The Midwife and the Laudanum

A young mother dies in childbirth and the midwife is suspected of causing her death.

Missus Typhoid

Pakenham had their very own Typhoid Mary. In 1910, one of the worst outbreaks of typhoid was traced back to a dairy farm in Pakenham.

The Unwanted Wanted Man

Poor old William Thomas had a devil of a time staying in prison.  

Highway Hotel Pakenham and the Fry Murder

Until recently the Highway Hotel at the corner of Toomuc Valley Road and the Princes Highway in Pakenham had survived many natural and man made disasters. If it's walls could have spoken we would have heard stories of bushfires and floods, grisly tales of death and murder but also stories of community gatherings, births and joyous occasions.