Woorndoo is a rural locality in western Victoria about midway between Mortlake and Lake Bolac. Its position with regard to larger towns is that it is about half way along the road between Ararat and Warrnambool. The name was probably derived from an Aboriginal word of unrecorded meaning.

Pastoral occupation of the Woorndoo area began with the Bolac Plains pastoral run (1842). Flowing south through the run was Salt Creek, originating at Lake Bolac and joining the Hopkins River near Hexham. A number of tracks converged at a crossing over Salt Creek, which was where Woorndoo township was surveyed in 1866. The Bush Inn was opened in the same year.

There were Upper and Lower Woorndoo, several kilometres apart. The district’s Presbyterian church (1868-1944) was at Upper Woorndoo, where a school was opened (1869-1883). A second school was opened at Lower Woorndoo, also in 1869, and it was there that the future village grew. A general store was opened in 1869 and a Good Templars hall in 1873.

In 1903 Woorndoo was described in the Australian handbook:

A Presbyterian church was opened at (Lower) Woorndoo in 1904.

At no time until after World War II did Woorndoo’s census population reach 200 people. In 1932 there were only 14 children at the school. With soldier settlement farms after World War II the school population reached 51 in 1957. Another period of reducing numbers ended with the school’s closure in 1987.

Woorndoo has grain silos, a recreation reserve, tennis courts, a Uniting church and a public hall (1927). The football club has combined with Mortlake. A 15-turbine wind farm was proposed near Woorndoo in 2011 but met planning opposition.

Census populations for Woorndoo have been:

area census date population
Woorndoo 1891 56
  1901 97
  1933 121
  1947 92
  1954 295
  1961 376
Woorndoo and environs 2011 309

At the 2011 census, farming accounted for 59% of employment.

Further Reading

Mary Green, Paninga (some time ago): the history of Woorndoo and district, the author, 1969

Pastures of peace: a tapestry of Mortlake, Shire of Mortlake, 1985

Mary Green, History of Woorndoo Presbyterian church, Woorndoo, 1972