Moondarra is a rural locality in eastern Victoria, 20 km north-east of Morwell. The name arose from the Moondarra pastoral leasehold (c1850), and it is thought that the word was derived from an Aboriginal expression concerning rain or thunder.
Although set in hilly, timbered country south of the Baw Baw ranges, Moondarra was settled for farming in the 1870s and a school was opened in 1880. Somewhat closer than Morwell, but reached by more difficult terrain, Walhalla is north-east of Moondarra. Walhalla’s mining community provided a market for Moondarra’s produce, and a butter and cheese factory was opened in 1903. A branch railway from the Gippsland line, through the Moondarra area to Walhalla, was opened in 1910, which was the time when gold production was in decline. Neither Walhalla nor the railway prevented closure of the butter factory in 1911.
The Moondarra area extended about half way to Walhalla as Erica was at first known as Upper Moondarra (1881). The area later extended south when the Moondarra Reservoir was built on the Tyers River (1958) and then west when the Moondarra State Park was proclaimed in 1986. Remnants of the railway line (closed in 1954) are in the park.
Typical of several farm settlements in the Gippsland ranges, Moondarra’s population was highest in the early 1900s when closer and village settlements were encouraged. Moondarra’s school closed in 1983 and its census populations have been: