Ensay is a rural village in eastern Victoria, 36 km south-east of Omeo. It is on the Omeo Highway, and Ensay North and Ensay South lie within a few kilometres of it.

Ensay lay in the direction of pastoral expansion from southern New South Wales during the mid-1830s, and in 1839 Lachlan Macalister took up the Numla-Munjie pastoral run. It was renamed Ensay by a later holder, Archibald McLeod, in 1843, after Ensay Island in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The McLeods had a family connection with the island.

Ensay lies on the Little River, near its junction with the Tambo River. Much of the land in the Tambo River Valley is undulating and well suited to grazing. With the discovery of gold in the Omeo district in the early 1850s miners travelled there from the south via the Tambo Valley. The Little River hotel was opened at Ensay in 1861 and a post office was opened in 1864.

Farm settlement in any significant numbers was another twenty years coming. A school was opened in 1889. In 1903 Ensay was described in the Australian handbook:

After World War I the last of the large pastoral estates near Ensay was subdivided for solider settlement. Although now best known for dairying and grazing, Ensay had considerable wheat growing around the turn of the century, and a flour mill was opened in 1913. The mill appears to have operated for about seven years.

In 1972 the school became a Group school, taking pupils from Ensay North, Reedy Flat and Tambo Crossings schools which were closed.

In the 1980s the Tambo Valley climate was found to be suitable for a vineyard. Ensay also has a post office, a general store, a community health centre, a hotel, a recreation reserve, a bowling club and a public hall. The Ensay Group school, however, closed in 1995.

Ensay’s census populations have been:

Census date population
1891 71
1911 297
1947 263
1966 103
2006 331*
2011 not recorded

* includes environs

Further Reading

Beverley Cook, Ensay Group School, No. 2953, 1989