South Morang, 25 km north of central Melbourne, is on the Plenty River and is between Mill Park and Mernda. Its name derives from the Parish of Morang, which was named after an Aboriginal word thought to mean cloudy or sky.
South Morang is situated towards the northern end of the Plenty River Valley growth corridor which during the 1980s was projected to be a major region of new metropolitan settlement. The existence of a flood plain and concerns about loss of natural habitat caused the projection to be scaled back. There is concentrated residential settlement in Mill Park, immediately to the south, but South Morang has major public purposes reservations comprising the Morang wetlands and the Plenty Gorge Park on its east.
There is considerable evidence of Aboriginal occupation of the South Morang district. The Granite Hills and Quarry Hills parks have artefact scatters and stone quarries. There are also scarred trees along Gordons and McDonalds Roads
South Morang’s early settlement occurred along Plenty Road and, in particular, a short thoroughfare now known as Old Plenty Road. Surviving buildings include the Morang South school building (1877), a Wesleyan (Uniting) church (1888) and the prominent Commercial Hotel (1890) at the Plenty and Gorge Roads corner. There are some surviving farm buildings from the 1860s, notably the LePage family’s farm complex east of Plenty Road, overlooking the Plenty Gorge, accessed from Gordons Road.
In 1889 a railway line to Yan Yean was opened, with the South Morang station at the end of Williamsons Road, off Old Plenty Road.
South Morang was a farm district until the 1980s, but the future growth corridor was unmistakably imprinted on the landscape with the South Morang electricity terminal station.
In 1992 the City of Whittlesea built new civic offices near the terminal. Residential estates spread northwards from there. They include a wetland reserve and large peripheral parks. The Lakes South Morang P-9 State school opened in 2008 (1003 pupils, 2014), adjacent to the area’s main access route, The Lakes Boulevard. Marymede Catholic P-12 college (2005) is adjacent to the former South Morang railway station.
The railway line was closed in 1959, but work was completed in 2012 rebuilding the line to a new South Morang station, located near the Council offices and the Plenty Valley shopping centre in Mill Park.
The LePage farm was known as Hawkstowe, and in 2005 Stockland released the 76 hectares Hawkstowe housing estate in the north of South Morang. (The extension of the railway line beyond South Morang through Hawkstowe to Mernda is projected for completion in 2021). A new primary school was included in the State government's plans for 11 new schools in Melbourne's growth suburbs in 2014.
South Morang is resplendent with parks and open space. Public transport will barely reach its southern edge, unless further extended. Local shopping is also remote, the choices being Mill Park, the Mernda general store or a homemaker centre and shops near the hotel.
South Morang’s census populations have been:
J.W. Payne, The Plenty: a centenary history of Whittlesea Shire, Kilmore, 1975
Robert Wuchatsch, Westgarthtown: the German settlement at Thomastown, 1985
Isabel Ellender, The South Morang local structure plan area: an archeological survey of Aboriginal sites, Whittlesea, 1996