Long a dairy centre 49km south-east of Melbourne, Cranbourne has become increasingly urbanised as more and more commuters move into the town, which serves regional dairy and quarrying industries.
Cranbourne’s location on the South Gippsland Highway also places it at the crossroads to the resort towns and fishing villages of both the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport, which lie just to the south.
The first white settlers, the Ruffy brothers, staked their first land claims in 1836 and subsequently opened a hotel which they named the Cranbourne Inn.
Historians cannot agree on whether the town took its name from the family moniker of the Marquess of Salisbury, an English village or the Ruffy brothers' inn, but Cranbourne was an automatic choice of name when the town was proclaimed in 1861.
For even more obscure reasons, the emergent town was targeted from outer space in 1860 when a number of meteorites peppered the area. One, weighing 1.5 tonnes, was regarded as the world's largest at the time. Full scale replicas of the 12 space visitors are displayed in the Meteorite Museum.