Latrobe City, Gippsland, was formed in 1994 by the amalgamation of the former cities of Moe, Morwell, and Traralgon, the former Shire of Traralgon and parts of the former shires of Narracan and Rosedale. The new shire covers an area of 1422 sq km.
It is named after the Latrobe River which was named after Charles LaTrobe, Superintendent of Port Phillip and Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria (1839-54).
The shire’s southern boundary reaches into the Strzelecki Ranges and touches the Tarra Bulga National Park. Its population centres cluster around the Princes Highway/Gippsland railway corridor, beginning at Moe in the west and extending to Traralgon (both former municipal cities). North of these towns there is the LaTrobe River, and the Latrobe Valley with its vast brown coal deposits. To the north-east the shire takes in an area extending past Toongabbie, but not including that town.
The Latrobe Valley towns comprise Moe-Newborough, Morwell and Traralgon, and the outlying Churchill and Yallourn North. Their combined populations of 59,400 is 82% of the shire’s population (2011 census).
In 1994 when Latrobe City came into being the valley towns were experiencing severe restructuring of the electricity generation industry. Moe suffered the most, Traralgon the least. The history of that unhappy decade and the toll taken on the townspeople is outlined in the entry on the Latrobe Valley, in particular the second table.
Latrobe City had 3.9% of its workforce employed in electricity generation at the 2011 census. Others with higher employment were education (4.9%), hospitals (4.5%) and cafes and food service (4.3%). Unemployment affected 7.9% of the workforce (Australia 5.6%) and one-parent families were 19% of all families (Australia, 15.9%).
Morwell is the shire’s headquarters, a matter that some Traralgon people think is wrong. Traralgon is the bigger town. Morwell also has the Powerworks Museum whose declared mission is ‘to showcase the Victorian brown coal industry’ (2011). Some people in Latrobe City doubt that is the only way of the future.
Latrobe city’s census populations have been:
Chris Johnson, Latrobe Valley heritage study, Traralgon, 1991
Moe, Morwell, Traralgon and Traralgon shire entries