The Toolangi Township
The Biggs family was one of the first to settle in 1894 and a descendant, Ron Biggs, currently monitors the Seismic Observatory. In the same year, the Bassett family moved to Cherry’s Lane (opposite the current school). Mrs Bassett became the unofficial postmistress, a position officially ratified in 1900 and which she held for 40 years.
The school, and The Queens Head Inn opened in 1895 (opposite the current store) providing accommodation. Unfortunately it occupied part of the road reserve and the Eltham Shire Council insisted it be removed. It was replaced by Toolangi House able to accommodate some 60 guests Toolangi House obtained its liquor license in 1913. In 1925 Toolangi became part of the Healesville Shire and the town included a post office, telegraph office, state school, church, government observatory, hotel, 2 boarding houses and numerous saw mills. .
Table Talk Magazine in 1923 referred to Toolangi as a”noted tourist resort in the Shires of Yea and Eltham”. A 1933 copy of “The Leader” stated that Toolangi was “among the most picturesque small townships in Victoria”. The construction of Chum Creek Road 1924-28 and the completed upgrade of the Myers Creek Road in 1934 established closer links with Healesville, and the arrival of electricity to the town in 1963 was a boon to both domestic comfort and industrial expansion. Fires have caused much anguish for the people of Toolangi over the years. Significant bush fires in 1912 1926 and 1939 resulted in much property damage.
The Black Friday bush fires on 13 January 1939 burnt 1.4 million hectares, over 1000 homes and tragically 71 people died. In Toolangi two foresters (John Hartley Barling aged 31 and Charles Demby aged 55) were killed when a strong wind rose from the south west and Charlie Demby ran to warn John Barling. Charles Demby was posthumously awarded the Royal Humane Society Award for Bravery for his efforts in trying to save John Barling.
The historic C J Dennis home “Arden” was destroyed by a domestic fire in 1965 and Toolangi House succumbed to fire 10 years later in 1975.
On February 7, 2009, bushfire again swept through the region, and tragically 2 Toolangi residents, Kate Ansett and Steve Fisher died.