Timboon, a rural town, is situated in a dairying district 32 km south-west of Camperdown and 42 km west of Warrnambool, western Victoria.
The name Timboon arose from the village formed around the Old Timboon Inn near Camperdown, which ceased when the Camperdown township was surveyed on higher and drier ground. The name continued, however with the parish of Timboon, and settlers in the area were given the postal address of Timboon, Cowleys Creek (the creek being south-east of the Timboon township). The name is thought to have been derived from an Aboriginal word meaning fresh water mussel, there being at least one fresh water lake near Camperdown.
In 1875 a Timboon settler took up a farm along Curdies River, and by 1880 several others had taken up occupation. That settler, Charles Calloway, became renowned for hop growing, although the land was also used for vegetables, dairying and pigs. Several timber mills operated and a school opened in 1883.
In 1892 the Curdies River area was opened up by a railway line from the Camperdown area, via Cobden to a terminus at Timboon. The Timboon township had been surveyed and blocks sold in 1889, resulting in several stores and a mechanics’ institute by the time the railway line came. Timboon’s population thereupon stabilised at around 200 people. (A picture of the village is given in Donald McLean’s The Man from Curdies River. McLean was a bush missionary during 1895-96).
In 1910 a lime quarry and kiln were opened a short distance north of Timboon. The Heytesbury Forest east of Timboon underwent clearing for additional dairy farms during 1928-33, and a more concentrated clearing with heavy equipment occurred during 1956-75. The second development released 43,000 ha on which 378 farms were established. Initially thought to be land of uncertain fertility, it became one of Australia’s most successful dairying areas. The Cobden butter and cheese factory opened a branch at Timboon in 1950. Other amenities which were centred on Timboon were a consolidated primary school (1948) and a high school (1960). A hospital was opened in 1955.
Timboon has a range of sporting facilities, including a golf course, a swimming pool and an indoor sports complex. The town centre has several shops, a hotel/motel, a public hall, Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Uniting churches, a P-12 school (480 pupils, 2013), a hospital and a reserve with two ovals. A golf course and a flora/fauna reserve are at opposite ends of the town. Dairy production is represented by a Fonterra (formerly Bonlac) factory and a locally-owned cheese factory. The railway line was closed in 1986 and the trestle bridge (1892) over Curdies River is on the Australian and Victorian historic buildings registers. There is a walking and cycling trail on the former railway line.
The Timboon P-12 school was temporarily evacuated to the town hall for a term in 2013 during asbestos removal. It had 486 pupils in 2014. The 'Blueprint for Timboon: Community Priorities for Township Development 2012 to 2022' was presented to Council in 2012.
Despite the closure of the Timboon Farmhouse Cheese factory and shopfront in 2009, Timboon has developed as a gourmet food trail with a distillery, ice cream, artisan cheese, provedore and berries.
Timboon is a sub-regional centre for the Heytesbury settlement area, having its hospital and the consolidated school.
Timboon’s census populations have been:
Rosamund Duruz, History of Timboon 1875-1975, Warrnambool, c1975
J. Fletcher, The infiltrators: a history of the Heytesbury 1840-1920, volume 1, Shire of Heytesbury, 1985
J. Fletcher, And we who followed: a history of the Heytesbury Shire 1971-1987, Shire of Heytesbury, 1987