Illowa is a rural locality on the Princes Highway in western Victoria, 10 km north-west of Warrnambool and 2 km east of Tower Hill.
Tower Hill is the remains of an extensive volcanic cone and the erupted material has provided highly fertile soil. Illowa is situated on the well regarded former Yangery estate, through which ran the Yangery Creek.
Farming subdivisions around Tower Hill occurred in the early 1850s, spreading northwards to Koroit and eastwards. A school was opened at Illowa in 1858, but having the name Yangery. Its replacement with the name Illowa occurred in 1909, probably because the village of Yangery, several kilometres north-east, had existed for over 40 years. It is thought that Illowa was named after a village in Scotland or the name was derived from an Aboriginal word.
Illowa was first recorded in the Victorian municipal directory, in 1905 and was described as an agricultural district with a school and a hotel. The directory also recorded a mechanics’ institute in 1911 and a Catholic school from 1938 until the 1960s. There was also a general store. Agriculturally, Illowa produced potatoes, onions and dairying.
The State primary school closed in 1970, leaving Illowa with a public hall and tennis courts. Regular mass at St Columba’s Catholic church ceased in 1972.
Illowa’s census populations have been:
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