Warrugal - at the crossroads
"Fancy a drink......milk, of course"
Situated at the head of Gippsland, it comes as no surprise to learn that Warrugal is the dairy capital of Victoria and Melbourne's major milk supplier.
Probably meaning, in aboriginal language, "wild" or "wild dog", the town is 98 km south-east of Melbourne via the Princes Highway and 112 metres above sea level. Although it is not the largest centre in the area it is recognised as the regional capital of West Gippsland.
The first settlement in the area occurred in the 1860s to the north at Brandy Creek, later known as Buln Buln, which was coach staging point on the Old Sale Road. The creek was allegedly named after the beverage shared by Archibald Campbell and William Pearson beside the stream in 1865. Whoever named it, you can be sure it had to do with the beverage.
Thomas Walton, a landowner from Berwick to the west, bought all of the land between the Bunyip River and Brandy Creek for 45 pounds; a decision he is said to have rued as it consisted mostly of swampland. Indeed, the track between Brandy Creek and Sandy Creek was a notoriously bad stretch of road.
English novelist, Anthony Trollope, spoke in 1872 of 'horses, rolling up to their bellies in the mud', struggling to pull coaches free of the bog. However, the marshes were soon drained, the forests were torn down and the scrub was burnt. Commercial activity really began with the arrival of the railway in 1878, the year that the township of Warragul was established.
In 1868 a record-breaking earthworm was uncovered at Brandy Creek, though the largest ever accurately measured - 2.19 metres when contracted and over 4 metres when stretched - was found in the area in 1930.
The admired poet John Shaw Neilson worked as a labourer in the district in 1919-20 and the great Aboriginal boxer, Lionel Rose, was born here in 1948.
The dairy festival that is held each March is indicative of the town's status as the commercial and service centre of a major Victorian dairying and agricultural district. With an estimated 100,000 cows in the immediate area Warragul is a major supplier of milk for Melbourne.