On 6 February 1857 the Dandenong Road District was proclaimed and the Government approved funds to construct a road from Melbourne to Sale in 1858. On 13 February 1858, the first Court of Petty Sessions met in the newly-opened Bridge Hotel .
According to the 1861 census, the population of Dandenong was 193 and there were 40 houses. By 1865, the Victorian Gazetteer was reporting the population of the town as 250 and the number of dwellings as 50. It is worth noting that by that time Dandenong was being described as a ‘town’. It had a police station, courthouse and two hotels.
In 1871, the population of the Dandenong Road District was reported to be 864 persons - 447 males and 417 females. Within this district, the township of Dandenong was the only major centre of population with 57 dwellings and 311 people 164 males and 147 females.
Springvale was a tiny settlement of six dwellings, just beyond the then municipal boundary, with a population of 27 people - 12 males and 15 females. However, there were more residents dispersed around the surrounding area. There were enough children in both Dandenong and Springvale for at least two government-supported schools to be operating .
On 16 May 1873, the Shire of Dandenong was proclaimed, with a territory of 59 square miles and 273 ratepayers. As with the Road District Board, its responsibilities included constructing and maintaining roads. Within its jurisdiction were three toll gates, on the main roads, which brought in some revenue. It was also responsible for issuing licences to hotel-keepers.
The council met monthly, in a room within the Dandenong Mechanics Institute, on the Walker Street and Lonsdale Street corner, as it had no shire hall or council chamber of its own. Its shire secretary over many years was John Keys. The shire council took on numerous additional responsibilities.
In 1873, it accepted responsibility for the Dandenong Market, previously administered by commissioners appointed in 1866. Also in the 1870s it became involved in the drainage schemes for the Carrum Swamp, this being a heavy load on its finances. Both the Dandenong and Springvale centres benefited from the coming of the railway..