Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Morwell is a large country town in the Gippsland area of eastern Victoria (Australia). It has a population of 22,801 people [year?], of which 49.4 per cent are male and 50.06 per cent are female. It is in Latrobe City.
Morwell is situated 148 km east of Melbourne and is 80 metres above sea level. Morwell is situated in Victoria's energy centre, the Latrobe Valley. The word 'morwell' is thought to have been derived from an Aboriginal word that is thought to mean 'woolly possum'.
The earliest inhabitants of the Morwell district were the Gunai aborigines. Their first contact with Europeans would have been with pastoralists who came south from the Monaro region of New South Wales in the 1840s in search of pasture for their stock.
In 1841, McMillan and Strzelecki made journeys of exploration through the region which would later be named Gippsland and during the 1840s the squatting runs of Maryvale, Merton Rush and Hazelwood were taken up in the area which is now Morwell.
The 1870s were a time of railway building in Victoria. In 1873 the government approved the construction of a railway line from Melbourne to Sale and it was this decision which gave rise to the development of the township of Morwell.
The first public sale of allotments in the town took place in January 1879 but there were at least ten traders operating in the town by that time.
A brickworks and a pottery were established in the 1880s, a butter factory was built in 1890 and a cordial factory.
Even in the 1880s, coal was seen to be of importance to Morwell. In 1888 two coal mining companies were established—The Great Morwell Coal Mining Company and the Maryvale Proprietary Coal Mining Company. Both these companies produce steam coal and were part of the industrial growth of the town which included timber getting, food processing (butter and cordial factories), brick and pottery manufacture and the transport of goods along the main railway line. Fires in the commercial area in 1890 and 1912 caused major damage to shops. This led to the formation of the Morwell Waterworks Trust and in December 1913 a town water supply from Billy's Creek was connected.
The development of the Yallourn open cut coal mine and power station in the 1920s contributed to Morwell's development, providing employment and trade.
The 1980s and 1990s were a growth period for the township of Morwell. Schools were built to educate the children of families settling in the area.
Thriving on the success of the power industry Morwell has developed into a town offering substantial housing and financial opportunities for its many residents. With the general growth of the Latrobe Valley Morwell's success is not destined to continue, yet it has more than 50% of its retail stores empty and a large unemployment rate, one that is larger than those of Traralgon or Moe
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