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Municipality of Traralgon, Victoria

Negative - Copy

Image: Negative - Copy

Source: Museum Victoria

The Shire of Traralgon was located in Gippsland, east of Melbourne. Its name derived from the Aboriginal 'tarralgon', meaning river of little fishes. In 1840 explorer Count Strzelecki noted the fine land in the area. Shortly afterwards Dr. Edmund Hobson, who conducted a practice in Melbourne, took up a run of 19,000 acres which covered all of the area of Traralgon and out to Wade's Creek in the west. His brother Edward was installed as overseer, and in 1844 constructed the area's first building. Other settlers began to arrive the following year

The name Traralgon was officially adopted in 1859. The Traralgon area began to develop as a result of being on a direct route to the goldfields on the Tanjil. Amendments to the Colonial Land Act saw the subdivision of land and increasing settlement in the area. The main occupation of the settlers was dairying. By 1866 Traralgon boasted a hotel, post office and general store.

The Traralgon area initially came under the jurisdiction of the Rosedale Roads Board, established in 1864. In 1867 it became part of the Rosedale Shire Council, and local butcher, Henry Breed, was elected to represent Traralgon. By 1879 the people believed that they were not getting satisfactory service from Rosedale, so moved to form their own Council. The Traralgon Shire was formed in October 1879, and in 1880 the Council met for the first time in the Courthouse, adjacent to the hotel. Councillor Edmund Kelleher was elected as the first Shire President. The first Shire Office was built in 1881 on land fronting the east side of Franklin Street.

By the late 1870s a number of shops and other businesses had been established in the area. By early 1884 there was rapidly growing agitation to divide the Traralgon Shire into ridings to provide better representation for people. As construction gangs pushed the Morwell to Mirboo railway further south this pressure increased. By the middle of 1885 the West Riding had been created.

In 1883, the Agricultural Society was formed, and an area was set aside in Traralgon for recreation and to conduct Shows. Three years later a new post office and courthouse were opened.

In 1897 the Shire of Traralgon issued a medal to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria (NU 20458). The medal named Mr. Hugh Dunbar as Shire President and Mr. F. McKinnell as Shire Secretary.

The Shire of Traralgon suffered during the conflicts of the early twentieth century. Some two hundred men and several women from the Traralgon district served in the First World War. Fifty two of them did not return.

Following the Depression, Australian Paper Mills decided to establish a pulp and paper mill at Maryvale, about eight kilometres west of Traralgon. Although it was located in the Shire of Morwell, the Shire of Traralgon received considerable benefit from the jobs that were created.

After World War II the town of Traralgon began to grow rapidly. The vast expansion of the State Electricity Commission at Morwell led to more jobs. The APM also began an expansion program that included large scale construction of houses for employees. This led to the establishment of numerous other industries in the town, including the Great Eastern Brickworks and Gippsland Cement. By the late 1950s pressure had begun to sever the town of Traralgon from the Shire, as the development of the urban sector was moving much faster than that of the rural sector. Eventually, in 1961, the Borough of Traralgon was created. Traralgon became a City in 1964.

The Latrobe Shire was created on 2 December 1994 by the amalgamation of the former Cities of Moe, Morwell, and Traralgon, the Shire of Traralgon, and parts of the Shires of Rosedale and Narracan. It was the third largest municipality outside metropolitan Melbourne and Geelong with over 71,000 residents.

References:
Latrobe City Council website http://www.latrobe.vic.gov.au/content.cfm?topicID=80
Blake, L. (1977). Place Names of Victoria.
Traralgon: A Brief Introductory History, compiled by J.F. Power, on Traralgon & District Historical Society website, http://www.gardencentre.com.au/traralgonhistory/Introductory%20History.htm .

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