The book In the wake of the Pack Tracks published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society says that Bowman's Hotel established in the early 1850s on the Cardinia Creek and the Gippsland Road, at what is now Beaconsfield, was also known as the Gippsland Hotel because Cardinia Creek was the border between the Port Phillip District and Gippsland. When the Bunyip River was later proclaimed the boundary the hotel name was changed. It is now known as the Central Hotel. So this source puts the Gippsland Border at the Cardinia Creek and later the Bunyip River.
Charles Daley, in his book The story of Gippsland (published by Whitcombe & Tombs P/L in 1960) has this to say about the western boundary 'the boundary on the west was the Alps and a line drawn southward to Anderson's Inlet, in proximity to the Bunyip River. Approximately this last boundary would be the present county of Mornington as the limit westward' You can see a map of the County of Mornington, here, on the State Library of Victoria website. So if the Bunyip River is the border, then it puts all of the Casey Cardinia region outside of Gippsland.
Mr Daley has a chapter on the Gippsland Shires and Boroughs Development Association, formed in 1912 with the object of furthering the progress of Gippsland and Mornington County and both the Berwick Shire and the Cranbourne Shire are members as are the Fern Tree Gully Shire and Dandenong Shire (both of which have part of their area in the County of Mornington). Dandenong used to promote itself as the 'gateway to Gippsland' and the history of the Casey Cardinia region is historically linked to Dandenong as it was a service town to the a region.
A 1866 map of Gippsland, you can view it here, has the old township of Bunyeep on the Bunyip River as the Gippsland border. So it does seem that there is a consensus (amongst some) that the Bunyip River is the western border.
I have been doing a lot of research into soldiers in the local area for our blog Casey Cardinia Commemorating the Great War and it is interesting to see who used Gippsland as an address. As you might expect some soldiers from Beaconsfield, Officer, Pakenham and all stops down the railway line to Bunyip used their hometown plus Gippsland as part of their address as did men from Cora Lynn, Iona and Koo-Wee-Rup. Less expected was the information that Sydney Eversley Ferres (SN - Service Number 194) had his address as Emerald, Gippsland as did Thomas Walker (SN 872) whose address is Macclesfield, near Emerald, Gippsland. Robert Hill (SN 1591) and Francis Joseph Seymour (SN 2391) both have Hallam's Road, Gippsland as their address (Hallam's Road is now called Hallam) Narre Warren and Narre Warren North are also listed as Gippsland on enrolment papers. I am surprised that Emerald, Hallam, Narre Warren or Narre Warren North would be considered Gippsland, but some people thought so 100 years ago.
Back to my dilemma as to where South Gipplsland starts - William Lester Lyons (SN 655) has his address listed on his enrolment paper as Cranbourne, Gippsland and yet Arthur Bell (SN 6956) is Cranbourne, South Gippsland. There are also have examples of Clyde, Yanathan, Tooradin and Lang Lang being listed as both Gippsland and South Gippsland and one example of Dalmore being called South Gippsland.
To add to the mix there are also references to North Gippsland in the enlistment papers of soldiers - these men mostly come from Heyfield, Maffra, Fernbank region but there is a photograph held at the State Library of Victoria called Bunnip Hotel, North Gippsland taken by Fred Kruger in the 1880s. This Hotel established by David Connor, around 1867, was on the Bunyip River and the Gippsland Road (Princes Highway) - not what I would consider to be Bunyip North, but some-one did.
Bunnip Hotel, North Gippsland c. 1880s Photographer: Fred Kruger.
State Library of Victoria Image H41138/11
In April 1965, the Pakenham Gazette reported on the upcoming football season and the West Gippsland League included the following teams - Bunyip, Catani, Cora Lynn, Drouin, Garfield, Lang Lang, Longwarry, Koo-Wee-Rup, Nar Nar Goon, Pakenham and Yarragon. In my mind a fairly logical range of towns to represent West Gippsland. Yet the South-West Gippsland League had the following teams - Beaconsfield, Berwick, Cranbourne, Doveton, Lyndhurst-Hampton Park, Keysborough, Narre Warren, Officer, Rythdale-Cardinia and Tooradin-Dalmore - a far less logical name for the League as even though some of these towns could perhaps claim to be West Gippsland, they aren't even remotely South Gippsland.
The Victorian Places website says that you could define Gippsland by water catchment areas - From east to west the catchments comprise East Gippsland, Snowy, Tambo, Mitchell, Thomson, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Bunyip. The last one, the Bunyip catchment, consists of several streams that flow into Western Port Bay, as well as the Dandenong Creek which enters Port Phillip Bay at Carrum. With the Dandenong Creek omitted, the balance of the Bunyip catchment (ie eastwards of Cardinia Creek) includes most of Gippsland West. So now we are basically back to our original boundary, the Cardinia Creek, that we started with when we spoke about the location of the Gippsland Hotel at Beaconsfield on the Cardinia Creek.
In summary - with all this evidence coming from various sources, some authorative and some less authorative, I'm happy to go with the Cardinia Creek as the (unofficial) boundary of Gippsland. Firstly, it was the original boundary and secondly, the fact that on a social level, many people in the Casey Cardinia region have identified as belonging to Gippsland - even if it was for something as 'trivial' as sport or on a more serious basis, they had it recorded as their address on their World War One enlistment papers.