Bendoc is 110 kilometres northwest of Orbost,on the edge of the Monaro tablelands close to the New South Wales border.The town was first known as Wagra Bendoc, an Aboriginal word meaning plain of crows.

From 1845 the area was part of pastoral leases. In the 1850s alluvial gold was discovered in the Bendoc River. This was quickly exhausted, and a number of mines began successful reef operations.At the head of the river, the settlement of Clarkville clustered round several other mines. Many miners, including numbers of Chinese, sluiced the rivers.The population of the area was as high as 500 during this period.

The township was surveyed in 1869 and the hotel built in 1870. This building was burnt down in the early 1900s and rebuilt. A school was also begun at this time.

In the 1870s there was a decline in gold mining. Some miners selected land, which in many cases is still held by descendants. Dairying was common in the early days, supplying a butter factory at the New South Wales border,and a milk factory at Orbost in more recent times. Wheat was grown for the settlers’ own use and ground at Bombala. Now beef cattle grazing is the main occupation.

In 1911 the Victoria Star gold mine was discovered. This mine has yielded thousands of ounces of gold. Operations were halted by flooding but in 1935a Melbourne syndicate took over for another three years. Sluicing and dredging were also carried on in the area until 1951. Wolfram was mined at Mt Bendoc during both wars. In 1911, the population of the area was 210. In 1933,there were 90 residents in Bendoc.

Since World War II, saw milling has become important. There were a few mills as early as the 1920s. Sleeper cutting, wattle bark stripping and distilling of eucalyptus oil also provided employment. From 1943, the Forests Commission has maintained an office in the area. In 1994, the settlement described in the Victorian Municipal Directory is little changed with stock raising and timber production. The town has a hotel, post office and public hall, with a tri-weekly bus service to Orbost.

The Baldwin Spencer Trail, following the route of an expedition by naturalist Walter Baldwin Spencer in 1889, passes through Bendoc, where relics of mining and sluicing can still be seen.

Bendoc’s census populations have been 210 in 1911 and 131 in 1961.

Further Reading:

  • Bendoc: a centenary souvenir”. 1973.
  • Schofield, C. “Bombala: hub of southern Monaro”. 1990.
Victoria Mine, Bendoc, 1927
Victoria Mine, Bendoc, 1927

(Baragwanath Collection, Centre for Gippsland Studies, Monash University, Gippsland)


In 1970 a new town had been established by the Housing Commission in the Parish of Hazelwood, to supply accomodation for State Electricity Commission workers and their families. The town was planned with the Morwell shire, with provision for shopping and civic amenities. An optimum population of 40,000 people was envisaged for the year 2000.

The Hazelwood Planning Scheme was approved in 1964. The site was chosen for its pleasant location at the foot of the Strzelecki Ranges, overlooking Hazelwood pondage. It was relatively free from air pollution, is not over rich coalfields and is in close proximity to the larger towns and power stations in the Latrobe Valley. The town was to include private as well as Commission estates. The houses were to be all brick and of varied designs. Residential areas were to be grouped around the town centre so that people could walk through parks and under main roads to the town centre. There were to be eleven neighbourhoods named after the district’s pioneering families. Each neighbourhood would consist of about 600 homes grouped around parks, a school and corner shops. There was to be an area for light industry. The proposals were ambitious, with plans for a shopping mall, large department store, market, theatre, civic centre, cultural centre, hotels, offices, bus terminal, racetrack and golf course.

Land was compulsorily acquired and house construction commenced in late 1964. The first families took up residence in late 1965. The town had been known as Hazelwood, the name of the surrounding district and the original pastoral run. But in February 1965, the government changed the name to Churchill to honour the English statesman, Sir Winston Churchill. The local response was very negative and very vocal and it was November 1966 before the issue was definitely settled in favour of Churchill. A bronze coloured structure 102 feet high represents a “cigar”, symbolising the town’s link with Churchill. The issue of the town’s name re-emerged in 1987. After much lobbying, a survey was taken and a close result favoured retaining the name Churchill.

Growth of the satellite town was initially slow so purchase conditions were relaxed. By 1968 the shopping centre was constructed. Progress accelerated by 1969 with more than 100 homes being built each year. Community spirit was strong, with the Citizens’ Association formed in 1966 being a strong force in town affairs.

But then development in the Latrobe Valley slowed, consequently slowing Churchill’s rate of development. Most residents had young families and were critical of the lack of community facilities. During the 1970s and 1980s, a Community Health Centre was established, as well as a Leisure Centre, hotel and secondary school with community library. In 1972, the newly established Gippsland Institute of Advanced Technology began operations at its new site at Churchill. Now merged with Monash University, it has expanded greatly, with approximately 1,800 internal and several thousand external students.

By 1976 the population was 3,500, by 1981 about 4,800 and by 1991, 5,600. Churchill is identified as a University town situated on Monash Way, 9kilometers south-east of Morwell. Monash University Gippsland is located on a 64-hectare campus at Churchill. The town is attractively set out on the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges adjacent to the 520 hectare man-made Hazelwood Pondage. There are three primary schools, a church, secondary school, four pre-school centres and health and recreation facilities.

Although the town now has many facilities, it is not as grandiose as originally planned. In 1991, the population was only slightly more than in 1986, well short of original projections. A large proportion of Churchill’s workforce was employed by the State government, so that the rationalisation and privatisation of the power industry has had a negative impact on the town. The general economic recession has also been felt severely, with the closure of a lingerie manufacturer previously employing 250 people. However the staff and students of the university contribute to the economic and social welfare of the town. Rather than a self contained town, Churchill has become a pleasant dormitory suburb with people travelling to the larger nearby towns for major shopping and entertainment.

Further Reading:

  • Housing Commission, Victoria. “Churchill: strategy for urban management”. 1979.
  • Housing Commission, Victoria. “Exciting things are happening”. c.1965.
  • Legg, S.M. “Heart of the valley: a history of the Morwell municipality”. 1992.


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.

Further Reading:

  • 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.