Goornong, a rural township on the Midland Highway and the railway between Bendigo and Echuca, is 25 km north-east of Bendigo. The name is thought to be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning kangaroo, apple or an unpleasant smelling plant.
The railway line through Goornong was opened in 1864, and a Presbyterian school was opened the year before. In 1865 Bailliere’s Victorian gazetteer recorded two hotels, the Railway and the Goornong, and a small but increasing population. The district was beyond the area of the Bendigo goldfields and its activities were exclusively agricultural. During the 1880s the district’s population was stated to be about 1500 persons, and the town’s population fewer than 100. The district also included Bagshot, between Goornong and Bendigo.
The Presbyterian school was replaced by a government school in 1875. An Anglican church was opened in 1880, and an agricultural hall in 1889. In 1903 the Australian handbook described Goornong:
By then Goornong had water supplied by an extension from the channel which had been built to Fosterville to treat mine crushings. The population increased three fold during 1901-11.
Irrigation water has maintained Goornong’s agricultural production and a relatively stable population. The township has two large reserves, sports facilities, a swimming pool, a garage and engineering works, a hotel, grain silos, a school with 43 pupils (2014) and a memorial hall. The Campaspe Park homestead, east of Goornong, is heritage listed.
Sir Eugene Gorman, QC (1891-1973) was born in Goornong and attended the local school. He achieved distinction in World War I, was a foundation member of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties and pursued a wide range of interests.
Goornong’s census populations have been:
Marjorie Shaw, Our goodly heritage, history of Huntly shire, Huntly Shire Council, 1966