Gellibrand is a rural village and camping resort on the northern slopes of the Otway ranges, 45 km north of Cape Otway and 22 km south of Colac. It is on the Gellibrand River which rises in the eastern Otways and flows westwards to empty into Bass Strait at Princetown.

Gellibrand was named after Joseph Gellibrand, a member of the Port Phillip Association who, while exploring with George Hesse, disappeared between Geelong and Colac in 1837. (Gellibrand is commemorated by several place names, including Point Gellibrand, Williamstown.)

Gellibrand was on the Colac-Beech Forest narrow-gauge railway line (1902), but settlement appears to have occurred in the 1880s. A hotel was opened in 1888 and a school in 1891. In 1899 the Victorian municipal directory recorded Gellibrand as having a post office, a hotel and a butter factory. There was also orcharding and mixed farming. When the railway was opened tramlines were constructed to bring timber from forest sawmills to the station. Gellibrand became one of the busier stations for timber. It later was the delivery point for the Carlisle River butter factory, and the station had a refreshment room until 1927. The line closed in 1962.

Gellibrand is at the intersection of the river and the road from Colac, and it became a popular place for fishing and camping. It has also become a minor tourist spot, with a pottery, a curio shop and a community market. There were churches; Anglican/Methodist (1938-95) and Catholic (1950s to 1980s). There are also a hotel, a general store, a hall (1937), and a recreation reserve. The school closed in 1948 when Lavers Hill consolidated school opened.

Census populations of the Gellibrand district have been:

census date population
1921 165
1933 327
1947 206
1954 287
1961 360
2011 383

Further Reading

Norm Houghton, West Otways narrow gauge, Melbourne, 1973

Norm Houghton, Homes in the hills: historic glimpses of Barongarook, Gellibrand, Banool and Carlisle River, Geelong, 2006