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Moorabool Shire is located in the Central Highlands region of Victoria, strategically positioned between Melbourne and Ballarat. The Shire is predominantly rural, with large areas of state forest. The major population centre of the Shire is the Bacchus Marsh area, which includes Darley and Maddingley. Early settlement in the Shire dates from the 1830s, increasing from the 1850s when gold was discovered in the western areas of the Shire, and of course in nearby Ballarat. Bacchus Marsh and Ballan owed their early existence to miners travelling to the goldfields functioning as service centres. Once the gold rush had ended, Ballan and Bacchus Marsh became established as rural service centres, Bacchus Marsh in particular developed as a fruit growing and horticultural area. In recent decades, the Bacchus Marsh area has experienced significant residential growth, a result of its proximity to employment in Melbourne, its topography and rural atmosphere. Ballan has also experienced some growth, although at a slower rate, due to it being further away from Melbourne. The primary housing market role that Moorabool Shire has played since the 1970s is providing alternative housing options for older families generally originating in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
There is continued demand for residential expansion within the eastern areas of the Shire from both existing residents and from external migrants, most notably from Melbourne’s western suburbs. It is assumed that this pattern will continue into the future, as long as sufficient supplies of land are available for development.
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 based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.
With the variety of residential and rural locations, different areas within Moorabool Shire have developed different roles within the housing market. Areas in the east of the Shire such as Bacchus Marsh, Maddingley, Darley and rural residential subdivision in the Rural East small area (generally around Hopetoun Park and Merrimu) are attractive to both young and mature families that have generally moved from western Melbourne. Areas outside Melbourne’s commuter belt such as Ballan and Rural West attract fewer older families. Nearly all areas of the Shire lose young adults as they seek employment and educational opportunities in larger centres, this trend is common to most rural and regional areas in Australia. The variety of function and role of the small areas in Moorabool Shire means that population outcomes differ significantly across the Shire.
There are also significant differences in the supply of future residential land within the Shire which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next five to ten years. Significant new development opportunities have been identified in the Bacchus Marsh small area, Darley and Maddingley, while the western areas of the Shire have relatively low amounts of new dwellings expected over the shorter term. In the longer term, there is the potential for increased development in areas of the Rural East, bordering on Bacchus Marsh and surrounds, as well as the undeveloped areas within Maddingley, currently under investigation. There are also potential longer term development opportunites around Ballan, attractive to families and older couples; similarly, in the areas adjoining the City of Ballarat.
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