The original Pakenham Post Office opened on 1 February 1859, was renamed Pakenham West on 1 October 1971, and was closed on 15 January 1974. The existing Pakenham Post Office was opened on 11 June 1888 as Pakenham Railway Station Post Office, was renamed Pakenham East in 1908, and further renamed Pakenham on 1 October 1971. The railway station was opened on 8 October 1877 and was a part of the east link connecting Melbourne to Pakenham and other eastern towns.
Pakenham is on the main railway line between Melbourne and Gippsland, and its railway station marks the end of the suburban electrified service. Pakenham Station is the termination point of all services operated by Metro Trains Melbourne heading out of the city, but V/Line trains to and from Gippsland also serve Pakenham.
A second railway station is to be constructed in Pakenham, adjacent to the Lakeside estate. Possible names for the new railway station are Lakeside railway station and Cardinia Road railway station. Selection of either name is unconfirmed and pending a state government decision. Lakeside railway station is also the name given to a railway station on the Puffing Billy heritage railway although it is not on the Melbourne metropolitan commuter railway network.
Pakenham is also on the Princes Highway. The Pakenham bypass allows road traffic between Melbourne and Gippsland to bypass Pakenham, both shortening travel times and alleviating traffic congestion within Pakenham. The main north-south roads through Pakenham take one north to Healesville and south to Koo Wee Rup.
Pakenham is serviced by four local newspapers: The Pakenham Gazette, available every Wednesday for $1, the widely distributed Star Pakenham, which is dropped into mailboxes free every Thursday around the town, the Pakenham-Cardinia Leader, which also serves the nearby township of Cardinia, dropped into mailboxes every Thursday, and the Pakenham Journal, a weekly paper, delivered weekly to houses around the town.
Star Media Group houses its main headquarters on the Princes Highway, Pakenham East.
Pakenham is in the coverage range of all the commercial radio stations in Melbourne, yet are also locally serviced by 94.3 Star FM, whose studios are situated in Warragul, about 45 kilometres away from the town.
Television services in the town are exactly the same as Melbourne's, yet being in the Gippsland area, regional television can also be accessed. Services such as WIN Gippsland and Southern Cross Ten are available to viewers, yet the signal strength tends to become stronger in the east of the town.
Pakenham's public facilities include a sports and aquatic centre and Council Offices.
The aquatic centre includes a 25m indoor pool, with a gym, group fitness, creche, eight multipurpose sports courts and food facilities all incorporated in the one building. The centre, named Cardinia LiFE, is owned by the Cardinia Shire and managed by YMCA Victoria. Pakenham also has an outdoor pool open during the warmer weather. This was originally opened in 1957, and was reopened on 17 November 2007 after undergoing a $1.1 million redevelopment. The outdoor pool centre, also managed by YMCA Victoria, consists of a 50m pool, toddlers' pool with splash features, updated change rooms, kiosk, and water treatment plant. Pakenham currently has one tennis club but proposals for a second are under consideration, with planned expenses for the clubhouse alone around $20 million.
Public schools include Pakenham Consolidated Primary School, Pakenham Hills Primary School, Pakenham Springs Primary School, Pakenham Lakeside Primary School and Pakenham Secondary College. Pakenham has one Catholic school, St Patrick's Catholic Primary.
Private schools include Beaconhills College (Valley Campus), Chairo Christian School (Pakenham Campus) and Lakeside Lutheran College.
Pakenham also has a community centre which is run by the Salvation Army and a vocational education provider LLINC (Living and Learning Incorporated).
Pakenham has many large national retail chains, these include a Aldi, Safeway, three Coles, Target, Bunnings and Mitre 10 MEGA. In August 2009 it was announced by Cardinia Shire Council that a $80 million retail development would be built at current vacant Council land behind the Pakenham Library at the corner of John and Henty street. It will have a Woolworths supermarket and Big W store, with the development will be 1,150 car parking spaces at ground level and underground. Construction is underway, with a completion date as yet unclear.
Sporting activities in Pakenham include horse racing, lawn bowls, golf, baseball, cricket, little athletics, tennis, netball, Floorball, Basketball and football.
The Pakenham Racing Club which schedules around eleven race meetings a year including the Pakenham Cup meeting in March. The Pakenham Picnic Racing Club also holds a meeting at the racecourse on New Years Day.
Pakenham's Australian Rules football team competes in the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League. Hawthorn premiership ruckrover Peter Russo was raised in Pakenham as was current Collingwood speedster Tyson Goldsack.
Recently the tennis club in Pakenham has had a major make over and now has six brand new courts, this is all part of the local councils "Whip into shape" plan that consists of the remodeling and updating of the local sports and recreation locations.
Pakenham is also known for being the birthplace of extreme feeting, an extreme sport in which the athlete performs freestyle stunts by running and jumping of obstacles (Due to similarities between Extreme Feeting and Parkour, there has been much debate over which is the original form of extreme freestyle running). In early 2008 the founders of extreme feeting were involved in a legal battle with WMG over the use of copyrighted songs that appeared in two Extreme Feeting videos without permission.
The Cardinia Shire includes the following towns and localities: