Waubra is a rural village on the Sunraysia Highway, 32 km north-east of Ballarat. It is situated in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, with good soil, a temperate climate and granite outcrops in the elevated parts. There are also some volcanic remains, from which the dark soil originated. Waubra was first named Springs, on account of natural waters in the district.

Originally part of the Burrumbeet/Ercildoune pastoral run, farm selections at Springs were taken up in the late 1850s. In 1858 the White Hart Hotel was opened, along with a Wesleyan chapel which was the site of the first school. (The school moved to a Presbyterian church in 1860 where it remained for nine years until a red-brick, shingle-roofed government building was constructed.) A flour mill was opened in about 1860 and by 1865 a former shanty had become the Springs Hotel. Large quantities of wheat, barley and potatoes were grown. By 1873 there were three substantial stone churches – Anglican (1863), Catholic (1869) and Presbyterian (1873, the second church building.)

Resulting from the profligate expansion of railways in the 1880s, a line was constructed from Ballarat to Waubra in 1888 – the opening of the railway station occasioned the change of name. It is thought that ‘Waubra’ is derived from an Aboriginal expression which referred to a crooked watercourse or way in which a person could become lost.

In 1903 Waubra was described in the Australian handbook:

Waubra’s population stayed at more than 300 people until World War II and the early postwar decline was offset by soldier-settlement farms on part of the Ercildoune estate. The heyday of the Waubra Farmers’ Association (1908) was pre-war, but it continued until 1968. Its demise coincided with the closure of the railway line, which had run a once-weekly freight service for many years.

Waubra has a primary school (59 pupils, 2014), three churches, a public hall, a recreation reserve, bowling and tennis facilities, a general store and the Springs Hotel. The Waubra wind farm (128 turbines, 2009) is south-west of the village. Waubra’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Waubra 1891 20
  1901 73
  1921 309
  1947 189
  1954 275
  1961 340
Waubra and environs 2011 455

At the 2011 census, farming accounted for 24.6% of employment.

Further Reading

Margaret Oulton, A valley of the finest description – a history of the Shire of Lexton, 3rd ed, Pyrenees Shire, 1995

Adrian Ponton, Waubra: a history of a branch line, Learmonth, 1988