Johnsonville, a rural village, is on the Princes Highway in east Gippsland, 13 km north west of Lakes Entrance. The village arose from a crossing place on the Tambo River, 2 km south of the village. The crossing led to Metung and Nungwiner on the Gippland Lakes.
White settlement near Johnsonville began with the Swan Reach pastoral run (1847) which came into the hands of John Johnson from 1857-65. In about 1874 a punt began operation at the Tambo River, denoted to this day by Punt Road running south from the village to the Johnsonville river boat ramp. Around this time the crossing place was named Johnsonville.
Settlement intensified in the 1880s, and a timber mill, a post office and school began in 1886. Johnsonville became a minor port on the Tambo River. The school doubled as a public hall until a proper school building was constructed in 1901. A Congregational church opened in 1892. The Johnsonville area was opened up to settlement by the construction of a road from Bairnsdale.
In 1901 William Froud opened a blacksmith and coach building business about a kilometre west of Johnsonville. It grew into a motor garage and continued as a family business until 1983.
River trade continued until the 1930s. By the early postwar years recreational uses became more common. An angling club was formed in 1959 and a pontoon river swimming pool was installed in the 1970s. A boat storage business, a caravan park and motel lodges opened in the 1970s-80s.
The punt service ended in 1952 and the school closed in 1998. Johnsonville has a public hall, a fire station, a general store and post office.
Its census populations have been:
|Johnsonville and environs||2011||349|
At the 2011 census, the median age of residents was 56 years (Victoria 37 years).
John Goff, 100 years of Christian worship at Johnsonville 1892-1992, Johnsonville Uniting Church, 1992
Johnsonville Primary School No 2761 centenary 1886-1986