The word Bulla is of indigenous Australian origins meaning 'two'. It was first settled by William "Tulip" Wright, the former chief constable of Melbourne in 1843. In 1851 the village was surveyed. A flour mill, brickworks and pottery works were built to exploit local kaolinite reserves, and facilities were quickly erected to serve the local population, including several churches (two of which are now listed by the National Trust), a school, general store, and from 1862, council offices.
At the time it was the largest town in the region, but competition from Sunbury limited the growth of the town. In 1956, the Bulla Shire Council (now part of the City of Hume following amalgamation in 1994) moved to Sunbury, and in 1996, the Kennett Liberal government closed the primary school.
In 1910, the Bulla Cream Company took up dairy farming in the area, transporting the cream by horse and cart to their processing facility at Moonee Ponds in suburban Melbourne.