Callignee is a hilly rural district about 12 km south of Traralgon in Gippsland.

Farm settlement began in the district in about 1880. An early settler family, the Tanners, are believed to have bestowed the place name. Some sources suggest Callignee in Ireland was the inspiration for the name, although gazetteers record no such place.

A school was opened in a hall at Callignee in 1885 and there was intermittent schooling at Callignee South (1890-93, 1911-24, 1950-64). Most settlers went in for dairy farming, and there was a butter factory in Factory Road from about 1894 to 1925. In 1903 Callignee was described in the Australian handbook:

In 1944 there were severe fires south of Traralgon and both the Callignee hall and a church were lost. In 2009 (Black Saturday) there was an even worse result: nearly all the sixty or so houses at Callignee were destroyed, the hall was lost and four people were killed. The fire started at Churchill and travelled 7 km in less than an hour. A community centre was completed in 2011 to replace the hall, although six months after Black Saturday, nearly half the residents expressed doubt about rebuilding their houses at Callignee. On the third anniversary of that fire a memorial wall (2012), made of clay tiles designed by hundreds of people, was unveiled in the town and dedicated to those who lost their lives in Callignee.

Callignee’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Callignee 1921 145
  1933 129
  1947 66
  1961 68
Callignee and environs 2006 495
  2011* 367

*Callignee census area omits Callignee village

Further Reading

Beneath dark skies: a collection of Black Saturday bushfire stories from Callignee, Koornalla, Le Roy and Traralgon South, Traralgon South, 2011