Healesville is a township in country Victoria, in Australia about a 1 hour drive from Melbourne’s central business district. It is situated on the Watts River, which flows straight into the Yarra River. It is usually most well-known for the zoo park, now called Healesville Sanctuary. The town has got a resident population of almost 8000 in 2021, but that is usually higher if adding in the visitors. Healesville was first established in 1864 mainly as a lodging site for the nearby goldfields and for building of the Yarra Track and was given its name after Richard Heales who had been the Premier of the state of Victoria from 1860 to 1861. The town is situated on the ancestral territory of the native Wurundjeri people. A reserve for the Aboriginal people referred to as Coranderrk was established in 1863 just south from the principal township. Aside from travel and leisure the primary employment in and around Healesville is founded on areas such as sawmilling, farming and viticulture. Healesville has become a tourist destination since the 1880s, with the Grand Hotel being developed in 1888, and the Gracedale House becoming made in 1889. In addition to the Healesville Sanctuary, the the tourism industry is located about the wine and foods industries from the Yarra Valley, with other points of interest such as the Badger Weir Picnic Area, Yarra Valley Railway and the Healesville Organic Market. There are also a variety of eateries and dining establishments, and volunteer-run occasions such as the Healesville Music Festivity, Open Studios, along with the Yarra Valley Rodeo that entice visitors to come throughout the day from Melbourne or even for a vacation. A visitor association had been formed within the 1920s to advertise this particular region. The township is at the southern conclusion of the Bicentennial Heritage Trail that has its northern end at Cooktown, Qld, just north of Cairns. The path is 5330 kilometres making it the lengthiest trail of its type in the world.
The Healesville Sanctuary which was formerly called the Sir Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary is a nature park or zoo having hundreds of indigenous Australian wildlife which are shown in a semi-open natural location. Sir Mackenzie set up the Institute of Anatomical Research in 1920 on 80 acres of Coranderrk. In 1927 the facility was passed on to the Healesville Council becoming the Sir Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary in 1934. The Healesville Sanctuary is actually today one of the few zoos having an active platypus reproduction program, mating their first in 1943. In 1978 the Zoo was placed under the operations of the Victorian Zoological Parks and Gardens Board. The Sanctuary is set in a natural bush ecosystem where trails wind through diverse habitat zones which showcases wallabies, , emus, dingoes, kangaroos and over 200 native bird species. People normally spend two to three hours to get around the zoo and take in a flight show with native birds. In 2009, the zoo was threatened by the serious Black Saturday bushfires that ravaged some of the region. Many the Sanctuary’s threatened animals were evacuated to the main Melbourne Zoo during the time. Healesville has an proactive Country Fire Authority volunteer fire brigade that was set up in 1894 that had a significant role in fighting the fires in the region during those times.
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- Watts, Barry (Author)
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