Terang (including Noorat and Glenormiston)
Attractive rural centre with delightful main
Located 216 km west of Melbourne, Terang is an
attractive, medium-sized rural centre which
serves an irrigated farming, dairying and
pastoral district. It has a population of some
2500 people and is situated at an elevation of
132 metres. The streets of Terang are graced
with some lovely avenues of venerable trees:
High St has its English oaks (planted in the
1890s), Thomson St its cottonwood poplars
(planted in 1900) and plane trees (1910s) line
the Princes Highway.
The Glenormiston run was taken up to the
north of the townsite in 1839 and taken over by
Niel Black in 1840. That same year John Thomson
established a 13 000-ha run on Lake Keilambete
(6 km north-west of Terang). He is said to have
built the first brick house in the district. He
also devised a system for reticulating natural
spring water from the northern end of Lake
Keilambete to his property by means of cast-iron
pipes which he imported from Scotland.
The first slab hut was also erected on the
future townsite in 1840 by Donald McNicol, an
employee of Niel Black. The first sale of town
allotments occurred in 1855. Two years later
there were four buildings within the town
boundary - two slab huts, a slab store and a
carpenter's shop. There were also one or two
families living in tents. The first post office
opened either in the store or the carpenter's
shop in 1859. A rough wooden schoolroom and the
town's first hostelry were erected in the same
year. The early 1860s saw the construction of a
racecourse and the establishment of the
Wheatsheaf Hotel (still in existence). The town
was named after an Aboriginal word said,
inexplicably, to mean 'a twig with leaves'.
At that time the area was densely timbered
and thick with tea-tree. So dense was the
foliage that the store owner had to mark the
route from his hut to his store. Many Aboriginal
people, thought to have been of the Kuurn Kopan
Noot tribe, lived in the area, particularly by
the lake, but there was much conflict when
whites arrived and a massacre is said to have
occurred at this time. The upshot was that they
had all but disappeared before too many years
had passed. An attempt to deal with the
situation led to the establishment of
Framlingham Aboriginal mission to the west of
town. It was one of two in the Western District
of Victoria. In 1867 80 Aborigines were removed
to the Lake Condah reservation but the governing
bodies had failed to determine that the two
groups were poorly disposed towards each other
and conflict resulted. Thus the Framlingham
group were returned. The Aboriginal Lands Act of
1970 granted control of this land to the
Framlingham Aboriginal Trust.
Rabbits became a pest in the area and the
1860s saw the first dry stone walls of the area
erected in an attempt to keep them out of
paddocks. Many still remain as a colourful
feature of the area, particularly around Noorat.
A regular coach service from Geelong to
Warrnambool commenced in the 1860s, stopping at
the Commercial Hotel at Terang en route. The
early 1870s saw Cobb & Co commence a regular
service between Warrnambool and Camperdown.
A telegraph service opened at the post office
in 1871 and a stone schoolhouse replaced the
original wooden building in 1874. It remains a
part of the present school. The
Camperdown-Terang rail link was opened in 1887
with the line extended to Mortlake and
Warrnambool in 1890.
As selectors moved in and the sheep and
cattle stations were broken up for closer
settlement, wheat was grown and a flour mill was
established just outside of town. Dairy farming
emerged later in the century when the Noorat and
Keilambete estates was broken up. The
Glenormiston Butter and Cheese Factory was set
up in the old bluestone woolshed on the
Glenormiston Estate in 1895: 1000 gallons of
whole milk being received on the first day. A
creamery opened at Noorat in 1903, receiving
1800 gallons daily, and another was set up at
Castlecarey in 1906. In 1910 the original butter
factory was moved to Noorat and another creamery
erected in its stead at Glenormiston. In 1911
Trufood established a powdered skim milk factory
at Glenormiston. From 1895 to 1949 the
Glenormiston Butter and Cheese Factory produced
249 million gallons of whole milk and over 66
000 tons of butter.
The first powered flight in Australia was
made in 1910 by John. R. Duigan who was born at
Terang in 1882. The craft was designed and
constructed in Australia with Duigan himself
building the aeroplane's frame and ancillary
gears. He later saw combat in Europe during
World War I. After the war the area was opened
up for soldier settlement.
As an interesting moment in social history
the Terang Express reported, in 1934, the
"furore" caused by "three young ladies". The
verdict: "various were the opinions expressed;
and none of them were too nice".
As part of the war effort, the government set
up a flax mill at Terang in 1940 (it closed in
1947), a glove factory operated from 1944 to
1952 and a sawmill was set up in 1947. After
World War II local estates were again broken up
for soldier settlement.
Medical scientist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet
(1899-1985) attended Terang State School. He was
jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in
immunology in 1960. His father was the manager
of the Terang National Bank. Burnet spent much
time studying the life in and around Lake Terang
Noorat, 6 km north of Terang, was the
birthplace of popular fiction writer Alan
Marshall (1902-1984) whose autobiography I Can
Jump Puddles (1955) told the story of his
childhood and his battle with polio which he
contracted in 1908. In the 1970s Hal Porter
lived on a property near Garvoc, 12 km
south-west along the Princes Highway.
The Noorat Show is held on the third Saturday
Things to see:
The nearest information centre is located at
Camperdown, 22 km east along the Princes
Highway, tel: (03) 5593 3390. Canoeists and
anglers may enjoy Mount Emu Creek.
Terang Cottage Crafts
At 22 High St (near the corner of High St and
Estcourt St) is the former courthouse, police
station and residence which now houses Terang
Cottage Crafts. It offers locally-made pottery,
woollen handknits, paintings, handicrafts,
stationary, books and leather goods and is open
daily from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03)
The old courthouse is one example of Terang's
fine turn-of-the-century architecture. Adjacent
is the post office. The clock tower was
allegedly the first in the Commonwealth to be
funded by public subscription. Both the
courthouse and post office were constructed of
Northcote bricks by the same builder in 1903-04.
The 20-metre granite obelisk in the middle of
the road is the War Memorial (1923) which is
framed by the Grace Black Memorial Gates (1938).
Cross the road to the Commercial Hotel,
opposite the post office. The tower remains from
the 1866 original.
Diagonally opposite the post office, at the
corner of High St and the Cobden-Terang Rd, is
the former National Bank (1929), now Terang
Walk westwards along High St which is graced
by a beautiful plantation of well-established
English oaks planted in the 1890s. On the same
side of the road, a little further along, is the
ANZ Bank building, constructed in 1901 as the
Bank of Australasia. Just beyond it are the
Doyle and Kerr buildings (1906).
Further west along High St, on the corner
with the Promenade, is the Shire of Hampden
building, erected in 1898 as a mechanics'
institute and library. At its rear is an early
public hall dating from 1886 and on the western
side of the building is the present Civic Hall
To its rear is attractive Centenary Park. The
basin, with its ornamental and native trees, was
once a lake which attracted many waterbirds. It
was used as a sheep wash by the early settlers
and for recreational purposes, such as fishing.
However, it was prone to periodic evaporation
and in 1933 the peat bed caught fire and burned
for some weeks. Subsequently it was completely
drained and turned into a park and golf course.
On the southern side of the lake is the former
Catholic Church (1900) and presbytery (1910).
The town's second Catholic Church, it is now
Heritage Walk - Thomson Memorial Church
Return to High St. Near its western end, on the
southern side, is Thomson Memorial Presbyterian
Church. It is named after John Thomson who
squatted on Lake Keilambete (6 km north-west of
Terang) in 1840. He is said to have built the
first brick house in the district, was appointed
a magistrate in 1840 and was also a founder of
the first church in Terang, erected by the Bible
Christian denomination in 1863. The Thomson
Memorial Presbyterian Church was erected at his
instigation in 1893-94 on the site of an earlier
Presbyterian church. Unfortunately Thomson was
killed in a driving accident before work started
but his wife ensured its completion and
dedication. A Gothic Revival design in
sandstone, it is one of the largest country town
churches in Victoria and is loosely modelled on
Scots Church in Collins St, Melbourne. The
wagon-headed roof structure and stained-glass
windows are of note.
On its eastern side is the Sunday School
hall, erected at the same time as, and by the
same builder responsible for, the post office
Heritage Walk - Museum
At the western end of High St turn left into the
Princes Highway (the Warrnambool Road). 350
metres along, to the left, is the town's primary
school. The oldest building dates from 1871 with
a northern wing added in 1890 and a southern
wing in 1907.
In the grounds is a local history museum,
housed in the old Dixie Primary School building
which was relocated to this site. The Museum is
open on the third Sunday of each month from 1.00
pm to 4.00 pm and on meeting nights (third
Monday of the month ) from 8 pm. Or by mutual
arrangement with the Historical Society. The
Genealogical Society Family Research Centre and
Library also have rooms in the same complex and
are open on the second and fourth Wednesdays
11.00 am to 4.00 pm and also the third Sunday
from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm.
Heritage Walk Continued
A little further south along the highway, on the
other side of the road, is the former
Presbyterian manse. The section with the bay
window dates from 1876. It was extended in 1886.
Return along the highway towards High St. To
the left, by the Tobin St corner, is the town's
earliest church building. Erected in 1863 as the
Bible Christian Church it is now part of the
masonic hall buildings.
When you reach High St, cross over the road
to the northern side. At the Lyons St corner are
St Thomas' Catholic School (1906) and the
Convent of Mercy (1910). At the end of the road
(400 metres) is the railway station (1889).
Opposite is Bowman's Hotel (1903).
Return along Lyons St and turn left, back
into High St. At the corner of High St and
Shadforth St, is the Wheatsheaf Hotel, built in
1893 but much altered. The row of adjoining
shops date from 1900.
Further east along High St, to the left, is
Johnstone Court. This complex features a glazed
barrel-vaulted atrium with decorative detailing.
Just beyond it is the Terang Hotel (1900).
The town's first slab store (c.1857) was erected
on the corner of Estcourt St and High St, where
the Terang Co-operative Store now stands.
If you still have the energy you may wish to
cross over High St and walk along the highway
past the Commercial Hotel and take the first
right into McKinnon St. 200 metres along, to the
left, is the Uniting Church, built in 1868 as
the Methodist Church. The parsonage adjacent (in
Ewing St) dates from 1902.
A large range of model cars, trucks, tractors
and earthmoving equipment can be found at
Hobbybarn which is located 5 km east of Terang
on Robertsons Road. They also stock some
aircraft and military kits, hobby tools and
paint. They are open by chance or by
appointment, tel: (03) 5592 1592 or (015) 052
Noorat, 6 km north, is a small and attractive
rural village of approximately 400 people
located at the foot of Mt Noorat, a green
volcanic cone rising to 313 metres above
sea-level. It was once a meeting and trading
place for the district's Aborigines who
exchanged stones, spears, skins and other
material. Over the years Mt Noorat has proven a
source of scoria, used on the district's early
roads. There is a walking track to the summit
which offers fine views of the surrounding
volcanic plains and other outlying cones. It
starts 1 km up the Glenormiston South Road which
runs off the Camperdown-Mortlake Road.
Noorat was the birthplace of much loved
Australian author Alan Marshall (1902-1984)
whose most famous work was his autobiography I
Can Jump Puddles (1955) which told the story of
his battle with polio which he contracted in
1908. It was subsequently turned into a charming
film. A cairn has been erected in the park
opposite the Beehive Store, which was Marshall's
birthplace. The biography I Can Jump Oceans, by
Harry Marks, places Marshall in his social
context within the town and district.
The impressive Dalvui homestead (1908) is
situated amidst outstanding gardens designed by
William Guilfoyle, designer of Melbourne's
The Niel Black Presbyterian Memorial Church
(1883) is a bluestone structure named after the
man who took over the Glenormiston run in 1840.
He became a civic leader, benefactor and MLA
(Member of the Legislative Assembly). Black's
diaries, journals and papers have proved a rich
source of insight for historians. He played the
organ in the church. The Sunday School hall was
built in his memory in 1912.
The bluestone school building dates from 1875
and the Noorat Creamery was established in 1891
with new buildings added in 1910, 1924 and 1936.
Mount Noorat Hotel was erected in 1909 on the
site of the first hotel.
Glenormiston is 4 km north-east of Noorat. The
bluestone administrative offices of Glenormiston
Agricultural College were originally the
homestead of Niel Black of the Glenormiston
station. The earliest section dates from the
1850s. The offices and 40-ha historic garden can
be visited during opening hours, in-term, at
Glenormiston South, tel: (03) 5557 8200.
Lake Keilambete is a pacific spot with
considerable significance to the indigenous
community. It is located 6 km north-west of
Ralph Illidge Sanctuary
The Ralph Illidge Sanctuary is a 96-ha bush
retreat with walking tracks and barbecue
facilities which affords some insight into how
the land hereabouts looked prior to the arrival
of Europeans. It was bequeathed to the Victorian
Conservation Trust by Mr Illidge to preserve the
native flora and fauna, particularly the white
goshawk and the potoroo. The latter is a now
rare member of the kangaroo family which is
smaller than a rabbit. It was also the first
animal that Captain Cook saw when he stepped
ashore at Botany Bay.
To get there head south out of town on the
Cobden-Terang Road. After 6 km it is necessary
to turn left to continue on to Cobden. Ignore
this turnoff and continue on straight ahead for
a further 12 km then turn right onto the
Warrnambool Road. About 7 km along this road
there is a signposted turnoff on the left to the
Sanctuary. It is open weekends and public
holidays from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Admission
is by donation.