The village of Metung is situated on a peninsula on the north-eastern shore of the Gippsland Lakes, 260 km east of Melbourne, with Lake King to the west and Bancroft Bay to the east.
The Gippsland Lakes were the territory of the Tatungalung tribe. Several legends related to the Metung district, and conflicts between the tribes occurred in the area.
There were several houses around Bancroft Bay by the late 1860s and during the 1870s a few substantial holiday homes were built. A township was laid out on the peninsula in the mid-1870s but attracted little interest until the Rosherville Hotel, named after an English hotel, opened for business. The village was known as Rosherville for some years. Many inhabitants were engaged in commercial fishing. In the district were several settlements of Chinese who regularly carried their produce, dried fish and vegetables, to the goldfields in north Gippsland.
In 1888, the hotel was renamed the Scarborough Hotel and the village officially named Metung, an Aboriginal word variously interpreted as tea tree, river bend or mainland. A school commenced in 1890 and an Anglican church held its first service in 1891. The Australian handbook described the township in 1903:
In the 1920 fishing declined due to reduced catches. An infestation of crabs destroyed eel grass beds, causing erosion. Beans and peas were successfully grown in the area, few frosts allowing early crops. There were also a number of orchards in the district. Bull’s shipyard was established at Metung, steadily growing into a substantial business. During the 1920s two bores were sunk in the area, searching for oil.
Metung gained popularity as a tourist resort. As well as the hotel, there were several boarding houses and many holiday houses. Camping on the foreshore began in the 1930s, but was later banned to protect the eroding shoreline. The Metung Yacht Club was formed in the late 1930s.
After a period of stagnation in the tourist industry, Metung began to revive in the 1970s. New homes were built, with Metung becoming popular as a place of retirement. A new jetty was built in 1978 and a marina in 1979 to moor the growing number of private craft. Hot water springs from the old oil bores were utilised as spa pools, but closed.
Metung is a small but fashionable resort, with its village green, upmarket restaurants and cafes, and excellent boating and yachting facilities. There are also a primary school (54 pupils, 2014), a visitor information centre, a caravan park and a CFA station. Bull’s shipyard has a boat hire and boat sales business.
Census populations for Metung have been:
The median age of residents at the 2011 census was 56 years (Australia, 37 years).
Gay Halstead, The story of Metung and its first inhabitants, 1977
David Williams, White sails, whistlers and woodlands, Vermont South, 2000