Christmas Hills is a large locality north-east of Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria, Australia, and is located between Kangaroo Ground and Yarra Glen along Eltham-Yarra Glen Road (State Route C726) north of the Yarra River in the Dandenong Ranges. Its Local Government Area is the Shire of Nillumbik. In 1904, the Australian Handbook described Christmas Hills as “an excellent health resort”.
The locality is very hilly, with One Tree Hill in the northwest rising to 372 m above sea level, and is home to several reserves including One Tree Hill Reserve and Sugarloaf Reservoir Park, opened in 1980 and managed by Melbourne Water.
Christmas Hills owes its name to an emancipated convict and shepherd, David Christmas, who became lost on a 640 acre grazing lease in the area in 1842, and was found after days of wandering at a rise which was subsequently named after him. The area was considered to have poor quality soil, although nearby settlers earned an income from chopping firewood in the sclerophyll forests.
Gold was discovered at One Tree Hill in 1859, fuelling a brief goldrush. Quartz reef operations ended in 1864, and alluvial mining continued until 1908.
The area grew considerably in the 1870s – at one point the town had two hotels, two schools, a post office and a Mechanics’ Institute. In 1884, a primary school was built, and by 1912, when the railway from Heidelberg to Hurstbridge was built, the area had a population of 146 and had become a tourist destination, popular with Melburnians seeking “clean air and an invigorating climate”.
In 1893, 1939 and 1962, the area suffered from destructive bushfires.