Yambuk is a small rural town in western Victoria, situated on the Princes Highway 17 km north-west of Port Fairy.

European settlement in the Yambuk area was the Yambuk pastoral run taken up in 1843 by Annie Baxter (later Dawbin) who recorded a detailed description of the early pastoral days in her diaries, subsequently published in part in 1873 and 1992. It is thought that the name of the run was derived from an Aboriginal word describing the moon or water. The nearby Yambuk Lake (the coastal mouth of the Eumeralla and Shaw rivers) suggests the latter.

Baxter's husband (whom she had left in 1849 and who committed suicide in 1855) opened a hotel in about 1846 and the Yambuk township was surveyed in 1851, adjoining the Shaw River which flows into the lake. A Catholic church was opened in 1857, and an Anglican school and church were opened in 1860. A Catholic church was built in the following year.

Much of the original landscape was well timbered, but extensive clearing changed it to undulating grazing and agricultural country. The Victorian municipal directory, 1883, recorded Yambuk as having three churches (the third one, Wesleyan), a fellmongery, an Oddfellows hall and two hotels. There were extensive wheat acreages. In 1892 a butter factory was opened, continuing until 1915.

Yambuk was described in 1903 in the Australian handbook:

A progress association was formed in the early 1900s, taking responsibility for tree planting, improving access to the lake and maintaining the recreation reserve.

The State school closed in 1949 upon the formation of a consolidated school in Port Fairy.

The Catholic school closed in 1952, but a branch of the National Catholic Rural Movement settled a number of families in the district during 1951-56.

Yambuk has Anglican and Catholic churches, a general store, the Yambuk Inn hotel (1871), which is listed on the Australia and Victorian historic buildings registers, a public hall and a caravan park at the lake. About 15 km south there is Lady Julia Percy Island, a faunal reserve. The island is mentioned in the journals of the explorers Lieutenant James Grant (1802) and the New South Wales Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell (1836).

A test well drilled at Yambuk in 2011 failed to find oil reserves. A 30-turbine wind farm operates near Yambuk, part of the Portland Wind Farm.

Yambuk's census populations have been:

Census Date Population
1861 103
1871 437
1911 426
1947 217
1961 300
2006 540*
2011 324

*and environs

Further Reading

Mrs Andrew Baxter, Memories of the past, by a lady in Australia, W.H. Williams, Melbourne, 1873

Lucy Frost, A face in the glass: the journal and life of Annie Baxter Dawbin, William Heinemann, 1992

Jodie Honan, Yambuk Lake Yambuk people: stories of Yambuk Lake and the catchments of Eumeralla and Shaw Rivers, Hamilton, 2008

Pamela M. Marriott, A shamrock beneath the Southern Cross: an history of the Shire of Belfast, Warrnambool, 1988

Yambuk and District 1839-1994, Yambuk Book Committee, 1994