“M” is for Morwell
Blogging A to Z Challenge
Morwell lies in the valley of the Latrobe River, with the Great Dividing Range to the north and the Strzelecki Ranges to the south. The origin of the name Morwell is uncertain.
The name of Morwell is allegedly the anglicised form of the Aboriginal words “more willie” meaning woolly possum, but a number of locations in England have also been suggested as the inspiration for the name.
In 1841, McMillan and Strzlecki made journeys of exploration through the region which would later be named Gippsland and during the 1840s the squatting runs of Maryvale, Merton Rush and Hazelwood were taken up in the area which is now Morwell.
Even in the 1880s, coal was seen to be of importance to Morwell. In 1888 two coal mining companies were established.
The development of the Yallourn open cut coal mine and power station in the 1920s contributed to Morwell’s development,
Power Station and Briquette Works, Morwell, 1959
State Electricity Commission of Victoria
Morwell: Power and Fuel Development
John Young Collection
By the 1950s Morwell’s focus was industrial rather than agricultural. An open cut mine was worked immediately south of Morwell township. A power station and briquette factory were established, attracting other industrial enterprises such as a char factory and local gasification plant.
In the 1960s Morwell gradually became the centre of commerce and industry in the Latrobe Valley, displacing Yallourn. Yallourn township was demolished in the 1970s, to mine the coal underneath the town.
Amalgamation of the local councils under a commission saw the major civic centre move to Traralgon. With the re-establishment of an elected council, the civic centre was moved back to Morwell and the new council building constructed in 2005 in the hope of leading to a revitalisation of the city centre. Unfortunately, that revitalisation failed to eventuate.
On 9 February 2014 a fire broke out at the Hazelwood open cut coal mine which burned out of control for over six weeks, blanketing the town of Morwell with hazardous smoke and ash. It was the state’s worst coal mine fire.
“N” is for Noojee
Noojee township was first settled by gold prospectors in the mid 1860’s. Tin was found in good quantities west of Noojee and a road was surveyed in 1878. This opened the area to farmers who selected land up to 15km north of the Latrobe River.
In 1919 the railway was built to Noojee. This allowed the sawmillers to operate in the area. As roads were in a very poor state, more than 200km of tram-line were built to link the mills to the railway station. At least 28 mills were in operation between 1919 and 1926, nearly all on privately owned land.
In February 1926, bushfire destroyed this area. In January 1939 bushfires devastated Victoria, and again razed Noojee. Large areas of forest were killed and a huge timber salvage operation commenced.
“Noojee” is an Aboriginal word meaning “valley of or place of rest”.
Noojee is widely well-known for its great trout fishing. A trout farm is located on the outskirts of the town.
The Ada Tree, a giant Mountain Ash, is considered to be one of Victoria’s largest trees. It towers over the surrounding rainforest in the headwaters of the Little Ada River north-east of Powelltown. The tree is accessible from Warburton, Powelltown or Noojee.
Around 270 years old, the Ada Tree stands about 76m in height with a circumference of 15m measured at 1.5m above ground level. Despite its age, the tree appears particularly healthy. It is though that Mountain Ash can live for up to 500 years but reduce in height due mainly to strong winds. As they age, Mountain Ash commonly form hollows in which many forest-dwelling mammals and birds nest.
An interesting place to visit, there are numerous other bush walks. Of particular interest is the walk to the Tooroongo Falls. The restored railway trestle bridge between Noojee and Warragul has been restored and is of historical interest.
Noojee, definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
“O” is for Orbost
By Steve Bennett (stevage) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Orbost is a town in East Gippsland, approx. 375 kilometres (233 mi) east of Melbourne. It is where the Princes Highway crosses the Snowy River.
When travelling to the south coast of New South Wales, this was often the place where we topped up the gas tank of the car, just on the outskirts coming in to Orbost. I remember it was a favourite spot for the policeman with his speed camera, being a straight stretch of road, people tended to disobey the speed limit.
Orbost was a fairly prosperous local centre for the forestry and agricultural industries and a supply point for smaller towns in the area.