Morwell Shire and City
Morwell Shire was created in 1892 from parts of Traralgon and Narracan shires. It was located in the Latrobe Valley and the main town was Morwell, 150 km east of Melbourne. The bulk of the shire extended southwards from Morwell to the Strzelecki Ranges. It covered 649 sq km.
Industrial developments around Morwell were the major feature of the shire. There was an open cut brown coal mine, power stations, briquette factory and many associated industries. Many of the coal and electricity industries were in Yallourn, a town administered by the State Electricity Commission at the north-west of the shire. To the north-east of Morwell was a large pulp and paper mill. The other main town in the shire was Churchill, the location of a campus of Monash University. There were smaller townships at Boolarra and Yinnar and a large rural population.
These towns were distributed along the Morwell River and other river flats. After World War I there had been soldier-settlement farms around Churchill and Hazelwood. These rural pursuits were displaced in the 1970s by power generation, Hazelwood being the most notable example. There was a branch railway from Morwell to the Strzelecki Ranges (Mirboo North) from 1885 until 1974.
The shire was described in the 1946 Australian blue book:
Dairying and beef cattle grazing were the main agricultural pursuits. In 1994 there were 18,400 meat cattle, 10,150 dairy cattle and 7600 sheep and lambs.
In 1990 the shire was proclaimed a city, but in 1994 was absorbed into Latrobe city. Municipal amalgamations coincided with large-scale privatisation of the power industry and government utilities, causing unemployment and slumps in house prices.
Census populations were:
Stephen M. Lee, Heart of the valley: a history of the Morwell municipality, Morwell, 1992
Boolarra, Budgeree, Churchill, Hazelwood, Hernes Creek, Jeeralang, Morwell, Yallourn and Yinnar entries