Tooborac is a rural village in a district mainly used for grazing. It is on the Northern Highway where it is joined by the Lancefield-Tooborac Road, 18 km south-east of Heathcote.

The name arose from the Tooborac pastoral run, so named when it was taken up by John Patterson in 1843, two years after the area was occupied by a partnership of overlanders. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a local hill. The Tooborac run had the ‘Major’s Line’ as its northern boundary (see discussion under McIvor Shire) and extended southwards beyond the present village of Tooborac.

Patterson’s homestead became the site of the Pick and Shovel Inn (1853), which was rebuilt in 1859 as the present Tooborac Hotel.

In 1873 the Tooborac school was opened and a second hotel, the Sugarloaf, was opened in or before 1877. It included a post office and store. A Methodist church was opened in 1875. There were also Presbyterian (1870s) and Catholic (1929) churches. A mechanics’ institute hall was built in 1889, and has continued as the district hall.

Of the dozens of hotels in the former McIvor Shire in the nineteenth century, the Tooborac is one of three which remain. The other two are in Heathcote.

In 1903 Tooborac was described in the Australian handbook:

Tooborac was a centre for the distribution of timber – mainly firewood – via the railway line which ran between Heathcote and Bendigo (1888-1958) and between Heathcote and Heathcote Junction on the Melbourne to Seymour line (1888-1968). The timber-siding, 2 km north of Tooborac, had tramlines into the forest in the direction of Costerfield.

Tooborac has a school (19 pupils, 2014), hotel, general store, hall, an oval and a golf course. The locality has a reservoir for water supply.

Tooborac’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Tooborac 1891 144
  1911 376
  1933 290
  1947 177
  1961 182
Tooborac and environs 2011 405

Further Reading

J.O. Randell, McIvor: a history of the Shire and the township of Heathcote, 1985

J.O. Randell, Pastoral settlement in Northern Victoria, vol 2, the Campaspe District, 1982

Tooborac 1836-1986, Back to Tooborac Committee, 1969, 1986