Monday, 5 August 2013


The Bunyip Historical Society has republished Call of the Bunyip: History of Bunyip, Iona and Tonimbuk 1847-1990, written by the late Denise Nest. This is a comprehensive look at the social history of the area and covers the Churches, Schools, the Hospital, Sport and Community Groups such as the Red Cross, Country Women's Association and Masonic Lodge. There is also a section on the War Memorial and the Returned Services League. Lastly, there is a section on local families. The present town of Bunyip owes its existence to the Railway line. The Gippsland line to Sale opened in stages - Sale to Morwell in June 1877; Oakleigh to Bunyip on October 8 1877; Moe to Morwell in December 1877; Moe to Bunyip in March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879.

A reporter from The Argus did the trip to Bunyip, a few days before the official opening, and presents a fairly bleak picture of the township, as we can see from the article reproduced below.  Bunyip did overcome this bleak start and soon community institutions developed - the Bunyip State School opened in January 1880; the Anglican Church began services in 1879 in a hall and the picturesque St Thomas Church opened in December 1902. The Methodist Church opened in October 1899. A Mechanics' Institute opened in 1906. The Post Office had opened with the Railway Station and moved into town in 1906. A Police Station was erected in 1903.

 The Argus, October 4, 1877

Both Bunyip and Garfield benefited by the drainage of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp which opened up thousands of hectares to farmland to the south, after settlement started from 1893.

Before the railways there were two other townships called Bunyip. In 1847  a road was surveyed from Dandenong to Gippsland along the edge of the ranges and when this proved to be impassable in places, a new road, which became the coach route, was surveyed in 1859.  Where this road crossed the Cannibal Creek, a small settlement was surveyed in 1860 and the township of Cannibal Creek was born and the Pig and Whistle Inn was established.  The road continued basically along the modern day road of Ellis Road to the old township of Buneep on the Bunyip River. The Melbourne to Sale telegraph line followed this route in 1865, which eventually gave the road the name of Old Telegraph Road (see mud map*). 

In 1867,  David Connor’s New Bunyip Inn was  built on the Bunyip River on the Gippsland Road, as the Princes Highway was then called. The coach route then changed direction at Cannibal Creek and turned south east to this Inn, and became known as Old Sale Road (see mud  map). A small settlement developed around the Inn, including the establishment of a bakery by William Snell.  However, with the arrival of the railways, the new settlement at Bunyip eclipsed the Old Sale Road settlement.

I have done some research into the men from Bunyip who served in the First World War and are on the Bunyip War Memorial and the Bunyip Methodist Church Honour Roll

You can buy a copy of the book from the Newsagency in Bunyip or you can email the Bunyip Historical Society on

* I made up the map and have no cartographic training whatsoever, so it is more a representation than a map. Heather

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