Thursday, February 9, 2012


Terang, meaning the Tree Town, is a small Victorian town 212 km southwest of Melbourne on the Princes Highway. Its first dwelling, comprising a slab hut, was built in 1840 by Donald McNicol on the east bank of the now drained Lake Terang. The township was developed in the late 1850s, with opening of the post office on 1 March 1859.

Terang 08

A regular coach service from Geelong to Warrnambool, stopping en route at the Commercial Hotel in Terang, commenced in the 1860s. The Commercial Hotel was built in 1866, later demolished and replaced but the tower portion was retained.

Commercial Hotel
Commercial Hotel with its original tower

The early 1870s saw Cobb & Co commence a regular service between Warrnambool and Camperdown. The Camperdown-Terang rail link was opened in 1887 with the line extended to Mortlake and Warrnambool in 1890. The branch to Mortlake closed in 1978. The local railway station is now served by V/Line train on the Warrnambool line.

Terang is a National Trust Town of Historic Trees, with several individual trees protected under the National Trust. It features magnificent avenues of trees - English oaks in High St (planted in 1890s), cottonwood poplars in Thomson St (1900) and plane trees along Princes Highway (1910s).

Terang 04

There is a Heritage Trail walk which passes by these trees and many historic buildings. A good example of Terang's fine turn-of-the-century architecture is located at 22 High St, which sites the former courthouse (1903-1980) and police station and residence.

Terang Courthouse
Former courthouse

This now houses the Terang Cottage Crafts which offers locally-made handicrafts and souveneirs and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Terang Cottage Crafts 01

Adjacent is the post office in which its clock tower was allegedly the first in the Commonwealth to be funded by public subscription. The courthouse, police station and post office were constructed of Northcote bricks by the same Melbourne builder, Mr. Harvey in 1903-04.

Post Office & Clock Tower 01

The Terang War Memorial, a 20-metre tall granite obelisk located in the middle of Princes Highway, was unveiled in 1923 to commemorate soldiers who served in World War I.

War Memorial

The Band Rotunda (a WWI memorial for band members) and Rose Gardens at the town centre, opened in 1927. The Rose Gardens were established due to the overwhelming donations of over 1000 roses from the town residents after being asked by the local Rotary Club where they might like to donate a rose for a rose bed.

Terang 11

Further west along High St, on the corner with the Promenade, is the Civic Medical Building and the Shire of Hampden building, erected in 1898 as a Mechanics Institute and Library. At its rear is a wooden hall dating from 1886 and on its the western side is the present Civic Hall (built in 1910). 

Terang 02

The Centenary Park is located to the west and south of Civic Hall. This basin, with its ornamental and native trees, was once Lake Terang 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. In 1933, the peat bed caught fire and burned for some weeks. It was subsequently drained, turned into a park and a 18-hole golf course, and used by various clubs (golf, cricket, pony, croquet, athletics).

Lions Walk Track B

Lions Walking Track is a 4.8km trail around Lake Terang, with magnificent views of Terang and the surrounding area. The entrance to the walk is at the Apex Playground. There is a public toilet next to the playground and some carpark lots along the Princes Highway.

Terang Apex Community Playground B

Thomson Memorial Presbyterian Church 01 Near the western end of Terang is Thomson Memorial Presbyterian Church. It is named after John Thomson who squatted on Lake Keilambete (6 km northwest 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. A Gothic Revival design in sandstone with a wagon-headed roof and stained-glass windows, it is one of the largest country town churches in Victoria and is loosely modelled on Scots Church in Collins St, Melbourne.

Terang has a few notable residents. The first powered flight in Australia was made in 1910 by John Robertson 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. The Australian immunologist Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899-1985), awarded the Nobel Prize in 1960, grew up in Terang. He attended Terang State School and 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. Noorat holds an annual Noorat Show on the third Saturday of November, which is one of the largest one-day shows between Geelong and Mt Gambier.

Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4


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