Formerly the city of Moe, this Gippsland town was amalgamated together with Morwell and Traralgon in 1995 into the LaTrobe Council. The town is bisected by the Narracan Creek and this area was originally occupied by the Woiwurung poeple. The name Moe is said to be derived from an aboriginal word mouay meaning swamp. After 1850 a small settlment known as Mouay or Westbury grew to service local agriculture including timber, dairying and potatoes. Moe was also a major stopping point for goldfields at Walhalla.
The railway from Melbourne opened in 1910. Moe grew rapidly after the end of World War II (1945) mainly through the immigration from Britain to Europe to provide labour for La Trobe Valley brown coal mines and electricity generation industries, initially at Yalloun and Morwell. Much of the housing stock was built by the State Electricity Commission’s ‘garden city’, Yallourn. Many Yallourn residents and Yalloun houses were relocated in Newborough.
In the 1980s and 1990s a combination of economic recession plus restructuring and privatisation of Victoria’s electricity industry led to substantial unemployment in Moe which is higher than either the La Trobe Valley or Victoria as a whole. It has more elderly, more single parents with dependent children, and more overseas-born than the other towns in the La Trobe Valley. It has lower incomes than the rest of the La Trobe Valley or Victoria in general. Moe is one of Australia’s most multi-ethnic towns. Because of its unique demographic and economic factors, Moe was chosen in the mid-1990s for two pilot projects in cultural mapping by the Australian Government. Both projects aimed to provide indicators for economic and cultural development.
Tourism is seen as a major focus for Moe’s development in view of its pivotal position in relation to Gippsland’s snow fields and beaches; there are also possibilities for industrial heritage tourism based on the Yallourn story. Old Gippsland Pioneer Village houses a number of historic relocated Gippsland buildings and hosts several festivals. The Moe Jazz Festival is held annually in March and the Moe Racing Club holds a number of race meetings. Lake Narracan is a popular recreational and sporting facility. Moe has a rich heritage of cultural traditions such as various ethnic Christmas celebrations and a November 5th Guy Fawkes bonfire. Moe has many scenic attractions, with the winter snow caps of Mount Baw Baw to the north and rolling green hills to the south. The Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve, Apex Park and the Botanic Gardens are popular recreation areas.
On the night of the 2001 census there were 17,585 residing in Moe; 51.3% female and 48.7% male. At the time Moe had an indigenous (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) population of 1%, whilst 78.7% of the overall population were born in Australia. The other main countries of origin were: England (4.4%), Netherlands (1.6%), Malta (1.4%), Scotland (1.3%), and Germany (1.3%).
Views of Moe
Moe Post Office, circa 1942
Photograph – aerial view, Moe, 1936.
Entry by Gwenda Davey, 1996.
Moe Tourism image reproduced per courtesy, Murray Development Group.
- Davey, Gwenda, “The Moe Folklife Project: A Final Report”, prepared for Department of Communications and the Arts and National Library of Australia, Melbourne: NCAS publishing, April 1996.