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Culture and heritage

The ranges were formed about a million years ago when a fault, now known as the Rowsley Fault, developed in the earth's crust. East of the fault the land sank; to the west it rose, creating the rugged ranges. Streams cutting into the fault line have formed deep rocky gorges.

The Wathaurong people lived in this area for many thousands of years, using its animal and plant resources sustainably. Today their descendants are based in Geelong.

Squatters arrived in the 1830s, concentrating their farming activities on the fertile land to the east and south along the Moorabool River. Gold was discovered in the Anakie Hills in the 1850s and the town of Steiglitz was born. Goldmining continued periodically until the early 1900s.

In the 1870s, the ranges began to play a new and vital role - supplying water to Geelong. Three thousand hectares of the Brisbane Ranges were reserved as a catchment area and a pipeline was built through Anakie Gorge to carry water to Geelong. Remains are still visible today.

Timber cutting for fuel, building and charcoal continued through the 20th century and much coppice regrowth can still be seen – there are few big old trees. There was also some quarrying for slate and decorative stone.

Naturalists recognised the remarkable flora and fauna of the Brisbane Ranges, and in 1973 they were set aside as a national park.