Nambrok and Denison

Nambrok and Denison are farming districts on the flat plains south of the Thomson River in central Gippsland, about 10 km north-east of Rosedale and about 190 km east of Melbourne. It is thought that ‘Nambrok’ was derived from an Aboriginal word describing a black possum; the origin of the name Denison is uncertain.

Explorers McMillan and Strzelecki both passed through the area in 1840, giving glowing reports of the grassy plains. Squatters soon followed and the Heyfield pastoral run was occupied in 1841 and Snake Ridge in 1842. In the 1860s land was surveyed for selection but, by dummying, squatters also managed to retain large estates.

In 1899, Heyfield Estate was subdivided into smaller farms, followed a few years later by Nambrok Estate. Before and after World War I, seven more estates were subdivided, following government policy of closer settlement. After World War II, returned soldiers were settled on another 138 newly subdivided dairy farms.

The plains had supported cattle and sheep grazing, cropping and mixed farming but the area was found suitable for irrigation. The capacity of Glenmaggie Weir was increased, channels were constructed and properties ploughed, graded and sown. Irrigation commenced in the summer of 1952 and the new settlers began dairying. The farmers were progressive, assisted by government advisors but problems were encountered with rising water tables. However, a system of drainage channels and pumps controls the excess water.

A number of schools have served the area, the earliest being established in the Denison district in 1865. As closer settlement increased the population, other schools were opened but by 1994 the two remaining schools, Nambrok and Denison, merged on the Nambrok site. The school had 95 pupils in 2014. A Presbyterian church was constructed at Denison in 1864 and a joint Uniting church in 1961. There have been about six public halls in the area over the years, Denison West and Nambrok still being in use. The district supports football, cricket, tennis and netball teams, as well organisations such as scouts, guides, Red Cross, Country Women's Association and rural fire brigades.

The census populations for Nambrok-Denison have been:

census date population
  Nambrok Denison
1911 199 100
1921 230 192
1933 219 209
1947 150 127
1954 161 325
1961 414 632
2006* 331 270
2011* 279 416

* Census areas differed 2006 and 2011.

At the 2011 census, dairy farming accounted for about 42% of employment and other farming about 5%.

Further Reading

The plains: a history of Nambrok-Denison, 1991