After a recent trip to Melbourne, where I had to hang around the Berwick area all day, driving around and killing a bit of time shopping, I realised that there was no way that I could ever return to suburbia. The traffic, the crowds, the absence of any feeling of character made me realise how fantastic are the townships in Gippsland, especially those located amongst the rolling hills, farmlands and historic areas. Not only is the aspect outstanding, it’s accompanied by a far more relaxed and genial lifestyle. So I thought I’d use that spark of a realisation to do some stories on such townships, not the larger regional centres, but the townships that may only have a local store or pub, or modicum of commerce, and often may support a fairly wide rural community.
Like all such townships, many can wax a wan in terms of resident population and visitor population. Some feature only a handful of permanent residents, but swell significantly when it comes to tourists and holiday home owners during the favourable seasons of the year, for example, places such as Walhalla. Other townships are what remains of those built around various construction or industry activities such a Rawson during the Thomson Dam construction and survive through tourism and residual industry. Then there are the townships that have simply disappeared over time when there was no longer an industry to support them, such as the likes of Grant or Talbotville (PDF), or other events took over, such as with Driffield.
Each of these townships has a story to tell, some interesting, others perhaps seemingly mundane, but whichever way you look at it, they all have/had a place in the history and the development of the region. From gold mining, logging, farming to coal mining, each town offers a unique perspective of the life that brought them into being and sometimes led to their demise.
In this series of stories, I’ll be looking at townships that are still in existence and will leave out those that are now part of the annals of history. The latter have most likely been covered by relevant historical societies etc (I’ll make references where I can), so there’s really not much that I can add, especially as there’s usually very little to photograph. I can’t say how extensive the coverage will be, but as we go through so many townships on our camping trips and Cruises, I’ll be mindful of trying to take photographs of these townships while passing through, so that I can compile a ‘recent’ record of what exists in each township.