take electricity from the West Gippsland
Important brown coal industrial city in the
heart of West Gippsland.
Morwell, 148 km east of Melbourne via the
Princes Highway and 80 metres above sea level,
is situated in Victoria's energy centre, the
Latrobe Valley. In spite of its English-sounding
name, the word 'morwell' is thought to derive
from an Aboriginal word that is thought to mean
The Morwell River was reached by Paul
Strzelecki in 1840 and two runs, Haslewood and
Maryville, were taken up soon after. Maryville,
situated at a stopping point on the old coach
road, became a pastoral centre for the region. A
track from Lang Lang was cut as a cattle route
through the area c.1860-62 and the village,
known as Maryvale until 1888, was founded in
1861 and developed as a supply centre for the
Tanjil and Walhalla goldfields. The town site
was surveyed in 1876 and lots were sold two
years later. Development was enhanced by the
arrival of the railway. Initially the rail line
came from Sale in 1877 and it was extended to
Melbourne in 1879.
|No. 21 Bucket
Wheel Dredger at PowerWorks
Although dairying, timber and agriculture
were the lifeblood of the town in the nineteenth
century, brown coal was discovered by a
prospector as early as 1873. The Great Morwell
Coal Mine Company commenced mining and opened a
briquette plant in 1889 but it closed in 1894.
However, an open-cut mine reopened in the area
in 1916 and supplied the fuel for the State
Electricity Commission's (SEC) Yallourn power
station, which opened in 1924, and for a
briquette factory which opened in the early
1920s. The Maryvale Pulp and Paper Mill was
established to the north of the town in 1939.
Morwell's brown coal also supplied Melbourne
with gas between 1956 and 1969, until it was
supplanted by offshore natural gas. Poet Chris
Wallace-Crabbe worked briefly at the mine in the
Morwell Power Station was built between 1958
and 1962 with a new briquette plant opening in
1960. Hazelwood Power Station commenced
operations in 1971 and the town of Churchill was
built to the south to accommodate the expanded
Things to see:
PowerWorks Visitors Centre
Excellent coal and power museum with interesting
pieces of old mining equipment set in the heart
of the open cut mining area. There are good
views of the open-cut mining operation. The main
feature is the huge No. 21 Wheel Dredger which
was the first of its type to operate in the
Morwell mine and was originally used to remove
the overburden. The sign records: 'The postwar
years brought about radical change to mining
methods and the use of this kind of bucketwheel
technology is now commonly used throughout the
Australian mining industry.' Coal mine and Power
Station tours are conducted daily at 11.00 a.m.
and 2.00 p.m. Contact (03) 5135 3415.
The mine has a surface area of three square
kilometres which is constantly hosed down in
order to settle potentially explosive coal dust
and inhibit oxidation. The water is pumped from
reservoirs of artesian water below the surface.
Five dredges operate at the coal face,
extracting 19 million tonnes of brown coal each
year. The coal is then carried along huge
conveyor belts to the power stations.
Hazelwood Power Station
The Hazelwood Power Station has a capacity of
1600 megawatts, it requires 160 million litres
of cooling water which is supplied by an
artificial lake that is also used for boating
and water sports. See entry on
Churchill. The Hazelwood Power Station is
Victoria's second largest power generator.
Jeeralang Power Station
Further south, Jeeralang Power Station, opened
in 1971, is controlled from Morwell and used
during peak consumption periods, as its gas
turbines can reach full capacity in twelve
minutes, as opposed to the 5-8 hours it takes
for the coal-driven plants to reach their peak.
Energy Brix Australia
This plant is Australia's largest co-generation
manufacturing complex producing both electricity
and the famous brown coal briquettes. The heat
from the generating turbines is used to dry the
brown coal used for the briquettes.
Latrobe Valley Regional Arts Centre
The Latrobe Valley Arts Centre is located in
Commercial Road which runs south of the railway
line. It has a permanent collection of
Australian paintings, prints, ceramics, glass
and sculpture and often incorporates visiting
Morwell National Park
16 km south of the town is Morwell National Park
a flora and fauna reserve of Tasmanian blue,
mountain grey and manna gum, messmate, tree
ferns and orchids, including the rare butterfly
orchid. Bushwalking tracks are signposted.
Further south is the Tarra Bulga National Park.