Barramunga, former timber milling settlement in the Otway Ranges, is 25 km north of Apollo Bay. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a magpie.

Timber felling in the Barramunga area began during the 1880s and logs were hauled to the nearest rail link at Birregurra. In 1890 a mill was opened in the Barramunga area, serviced by a forest tramway. Haulage of sawn timber was assisted by a railway terminus at Forrest (1891), about seven kilometres northwards.

A school was opened in 1886 and its brief historical record states that there was an enrolment of up to 75 pupils in the early days.

In 1903 the Victorian municipal directory described Barramunga as a settlement with a school, a hotel and a thriving timber industry with a saw mill that had 40 employees. Timber cutting continued for another 20 years before logging sites thinned out. The hotel closed towards the end of the 1920s, and a single remaining mill closed in 1939. Logs were then taken to Forrest for milling, and there was a strong postwar demand for Otways hardwood. The postwar prosperity encouraged the building of a public hall at Barramunga in 1950, a few years before reticulated electricity was connected from the state power grid.

In the late 1960s local saw milling declined and both former timber cutting sites and farm lands were resumed for water catchment. Some dairy farms were sold for pine plantations. The public hall (1956) and the school closed in the mid-1970s and the store in 1981.

Barramunga’s census populations have been:

census date population
1901 82
1911 245
1954 115
1961 83

Further Reading

Norm Houghton, Sawdust and steam: a history of the railways and tramways of the eastern Otway Ranges, Melbourne, 1975

Norm Houghton, By the Barwon: a history of Forrest and Barramunga, Geelong, 2005

G.A. Facy, Early Forrest, Barramunga and Apollo Bay, the author, c1980