Tonimbuk is in hilly country in Gippsland, adjoining the Bunyip State Park. According to Bunce's Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria (1859) Tonimbuck is an Aboriginal word meaning burn. The locality, 72 km south-east of Melbourne and 10 km north of Bunyip, was developed after the introduction of the Village Settlement Scheme Act in 1892. By October 1894, there were between 300 and 400 people living at Tonimbuk but the scheme was abandoned in December 1894. Some families remained in the area and worked in the sawmilling industry. The last forest sawmill closed around 1940.

In the early days the local hall (c1905) was used for social events and church services.

The Tonimbuk School was open from 1900 to 1906 when the teacher left. It was reopened in the hall from 1910. The school finally closed in 1947 and a bus service operated in the area to take children to Bunyip. From the 1890s until late 1920s distilling eucalyptus oil was another local industry. Orchard allotments were popular during the 1920s and 1930s at Tonimbuk but were gradually overtaken by dairying and grazing.

The Black Saturday fires of February 2009 burning in the Bunyip State Park threatened Tonimbuk.

Today, Tonimbuk remains a rural district breeding cattle and horses. Its census populations have been:

area census date population
Tonimbuk 1911 92
  1921 77
  1933 50
  1947 61
Tonimbuk and environs 2006 275
  2011 317

Further Reading

Denis M. Nest, Call of the Bunyip: History of Bunyip, Iona & Tonimbuk 1847-1990, 1990