Location in Victoria
The County of Bourke is one of the 37 counties of Victoria which are part of the Lands administrative divisions of Australia, used for land titles. It is the oldest and most populous county in Victoria and contains the city of Melbourne. Like other counties in Victoria, it is subdivided into parishes. The county was named after General Sir Richard Bourke, the Governor of New South Wales between 1831 and 1837. It is bordered by the Werribee River in the west, the Great Dividing Range in the north, Port Phillip in the south, and by Dandenong Creek, a small part of the Yarra River, and the Plenty River in the east. The county was proclaimed in 1853.
Unlike counties in England and in the United States, Australian counties serve no administrative or political function. Rather, counties exist for purposes of land ownership. For example, property titles in Lands administrative divisions of Australia are often listed as being situated within a parish and county. For political subdivisions, Australia employs the Local Government Area (LGA) system — which includes shires, districts, and city councils — as the third and lowest tier of government (the States and territories of Australia being the second tier and the Federal Government being the highest tier).
The Melbourne and County of Bourke Police was the name for the police force in the area before 1853. The County of Bourke was used on the name of the electoral roll in 1845. There was also the Bourke County Court in the 1850s, which became the County Court of Victoria. Melbourne is also referenced as being in "Bourke county" in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.
Following is a list of parishes within the County of Bourke. Many of the links below link to a modern suburb or town, which is situated within the parish. In most cases, the parish itself is much bigger than the modern suburb or town.
Several of the parishes are also part of a neighbouring county. For example, Bylands, Forbes, Goldie, Lancefield and Newham parishes are located in the County of Bourke as well as the County of Dalhousie. Morang, Toorourrong and Yan Yean parishes are in the County of Bourke as well as the County of Evelyn. Finally, Ballan parish is situated within both the County of Bourke and the County of Grant.