Traralgon is located in the Latrobe Valley part of Gippsland in Victoria and is 163 kilometres south east of Melbourne. It has a history of primary industries and agriculture as well as forestry and coal was discovered close to the surface and is mined by open cut methods.
Traralgon was originally settled by the Gunai aborigines and white man came along in 1840 when Count Pawel Strzelecki discovered the area after exploring the Snowy Mountains area and naming the highest point Mt Kosciusko. The high rainfall and fertile soil made the area perfect for farming. The town was officially established in the 1860’s and the main industry was dairy farming. Much of the Gippsland area was devoted to farming activities.
Traralgon was on the route to the gold discoveries at Tanjil and this boosted the town’s economy. By 1860 the town housed about 14 families just in the village itself. By the mid 1870’s land was made available for purchase and people moved to the area and as a consequence schools, churches and shops were built. The main street of the town was Franklin Street, near the railway station.
Railway lines were built between Sale and Drouin and this meant work for people and new industries opened up such as saw milling, sleeper cutting and lots of labourer jobs.
The railway to Melbourne opened in 1877 that gave the area of Traralgon a great economic boost to the community.
The area was home to a lot of dairy farmers and pastoralists and the Agricultural Society was developed in 1883 and is still putting on shows today. The area had its own butter factories; one lasted into the 1950’s. Farming was the economies backbone for many years until the 1930’s.
The industry change came in the 1930’s when a paper mill was built by Australian Paper Manufacturer’s at Maryvale, 8kms away.
After World War II the areas power industry surged ahead with the Yallourn and Hazelwood power stations expanded. Another power station, Loy Yang was later built during the 1970’ and 1980’s as demand for power continued to grow. During this phase the State Electricity Commission built houses for workers and demand was such that cement works and brick factory was established.
In 1954 the town had a royal visit from Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and the Duke of Edinburgh.
One of the most notable residents from the area was Sir Macfarlane Burnett who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1960.
In 1964 the government proclaimed Traralgon to be a city and it has gone on to prosper and become the largest city in the Latrobe Valley with many people working in the power and its associated industries.
The town is a centre for tourism with a variety of National and State parks in the area and it is also close the Victorian Alps.