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Macedon Ranges Shire is a semi-rural municipality located north west of Melbourne. The main towns are Gisborne, Kyneton and Woodend, with smaller settlements at Riddells Creek, Romsey and Lancefield. There are a number of small rural townships and a large semi-rural hinterland. There are large tracts of State Forest and National Park, and the famous natural feature of Hanging Rock is located near Woodend. The Shire is traversed by two major transport links - the Calder Freeway and the Melbourne-Bendigo railway line.
European settlement of the Shire dates from the 1830s, with land used mainly for grazing, particularly sheep farming, but also cattle farming and crop growing. The township of Kyneton was established in the late 1840s. Substantial growth took place from the 1850s due to gold discoveries in nearby Castlemaine and Bendigo. The townships of Gisborne, Lancefield, Macedon, Malmsbury, Riddells Creek, Romsey and Woodend were established during the 1850s. After the gold-rush land was used mainly for agriculture and forestry. The population gradually increased from the early 1970s, particularly in and around the townships. This was influenced by improving access to Melbourne through the construction of the Calder Freeway and the development of the airport. This not only facilitated shorter commute times but the airport also provides employment opportunities for Shire residents. The population rose from about 31,000 in 1991 to 47,000 in 2016. In recent years the greatest growth has occurred in the towns of Gisborne, Riddells Creek and Romsey, these being the townships closest to Melbourne as well as having the advantage of rail transport into the CBD.
Historically, Macedon Ranges has gained population from the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, particularly families and other couples seeking relatively affordable home owning opportunities in a semi-rural environment, yet still be within range of employment opportunities and services. In fact, Macedon Ranges has a low level of employment self containment, with around 40% of employed residents working in the Shire. A similar proportion travel to work in the Melbourne metropolitan area - almost one in nine working in the City of Melbourne itself. Like most parts of regional Australia, Macedon Ranges Shire loses young adults to metropolitan areas for education and employment purposes.
Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago.
There are signficant differences in the supply of residential land within the Shire that will influence population and housing outcomes over the forecast period. Greenfield sites have been identified in Gisborne, Riddells Creek, Kyneton and Romsey, but there will also be additions to the dwelling stock through infill opportunities in the established parts of town where appropriate zoning will allow for certain net gain of dwellings. In contrast, planning and environmental constraints will result in minimal population and dwelling change in Macedon and Mount Macedon District. Overall, the population of the Shire is forecast to experience a steady level of growth over the forecast period, reaching 65,507 at 2036.
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