Moorabool Shire extends along the Western Freeway from Melton shire to just east of Ballarat, near Mount Warrenheip. Its northern and southern limits come just short of Trentham and Meredith respectively.
It was formed on 6 May 1994 by the union of Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and Bungaree shires, most of Buninyong shire and a small outlying part of Werribee city. The town of Buninyong, however, is in Ballarat city. Its area is 2112 sq km.
The shire was named after the Moorabool River, which has headwaters near Ballan and Bungaree, flows generally south and leaves the shire near Steiglitz. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word meaning the haunt or cry of a curlew or a ghost. The original town named Moorabool was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:
The northern boundary of the shire is in the foothills of the Dividing Range, where there are several timber towns and Blackwood, a former gold mining area. The range extends southwards into the Lerderderg Gorge State Park. Running south of the State Park is the Western Freeway with the shire’s chief population centres: Bacchus Marsh (half of the shire’s population), Ballan and Gordon. Bacchus Marsh lies in a well-watered area with hills to its north and west. The steepness of the western hills delayed the construction of the railway line to Ballarat from the 1860s until 1889. The southern part of the shire is hilly (including the Brisbane Ranges) and contains numerous rural villages such as Lal Lal, Elaine and Mount Egerton.
In 1995-96 the shire’s agricultural output included crops ($34.2m), meat from livestock ($12.3m) and other livestock products ($13.3m). The crops included apples (Bacchus Marsh) and potatoes (Bungaree).
The shire is headquartered at Ballan and there are branch offices at Bacchus Marsh and Darley. The shire’s census populations have been:
Bacchus Marsh, Ballan, Bungaree, Buninyong shires entries