Yallourn North, Victoria
Homes on the undulating street of Marshall Avenue with a view of Harmony Hills in the background.
|LGA(s)||City of Latrobe|
Yallourn North is a small country town in the City of Latrobe, Victoria, Australia. It is approximately 8 kilometres north-east of Moe, and 146 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. The town contains many churches, including the only Serbian Orthodox Church and Mosque in the region. At the 2006 census, Yallourn North had a population of 1448.
The Post Office opened on 3 September 1917 as Brown Coal Mine and was renamed Yallourn North in 1947.
Sports available within this tiny hilltop town are, Australian rules football, Cricket, lawn Bowls and Carpet Bowls, Netball, Angling, Social Golf Club, and pistol club. The town has an Australian Rules football team Yallourn-Yallourn North competing in the Mid Gippsland Football League.
Prior to 1947 Yallourn North was known as 'The Brown Coal Mine'.
The beginning of a town
The town of Yallourn North owes its origins to the discovery of brown coal in the Morwell area of Gippsland in eastern Victoria. Initially private enterprise attempted to profit from the large quantities of coal that was accessible close to the surface. However The Victorian Mines Department took over the abandoned mine in 1917 after coal miners in New South Wales were on a protracted strike, threatening Victoria's electricity Supply.
Educating the Children
In 1917 the need for a school became evident. W. H. Dooley reported that a school should be formed, but not a costly one. The address was given as "Great Morwell Coal Mine" and was initially a large Marquee. The school number allocated was 3967, and is still this number today. After a tear in the marquee during a storm in December 1918, the school temporarily relocated at Bevis's Pioneer Boarding House until a new building was built on the current school site. Over the years as demand grew for the school, so too did the buildings to teach them. The current building was built in the late 1960s and is still being used today.
Yallourn North played its part during the second world war with the placement of Bofor Guns to help protect the Mine and State Electricity Commission infrastructure. "An area of five miles radius from the Open Cut was designated as a Prohibited Area for aircraft". Anti-aircraft defences were being erected by late 1941. These became home to four static 3.7 inch guns, one of which was installed at the Brown Coal Mine township. Each group of 4 Bofor guns needed 90 men to operate, however neither the army nor the Volunteer Defence Corps could manage enough numbers to man the guns. The location of the Bofor guns was approximately between where Boundary Road and Anderson Avenue now reside today.
The Big Slip
The township undertook a massive transformation after 1950. "Landslide leaves bakery on edge of 333ft drop"  read the Melbourne Sun, and "Part of North Yallourn slips into cut"  read the Argus on June 30, 1950. Thirty people narrowly escaped death as 250,000 tons of earth and brown coal avalanched 300 feet into the old open cut. After the slip, towns people moved their shops to where they are today, and is the reason why shops at Yallourn North aren't centrally in one location. The bottom half of town was redesigned, with the addition of streets such as Gooding Street, Low Road, and East Street.
Privatisation of the SECV
After the Kennett government in 1994 divided and sold the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the town of Yallourn North took a large hit economically along with the greater Latrobe Valley region. Many people moved away from the area in search of work elsewhere as 4,500 jobs out of 10,000 were lost in the three years to 1993. However over the last 20 years the town has found a re-emergence, with new families moving in to replace those of old, and the economy of Latrobe City now finding its equilibrium along with a re-invigorated growth.
After the big slip of 1950, the towns shops moved into the camp recreation building temporarily while a new building was sourced. A nissen hut was brought in pieces from an SEC work yard on trucks, and erected in Reserve Street. Purvis's, Dobinsons Drapery, Meadows Bakery and a hairdresser moved to the hut. The businesses moved out in turn as they each sourced their own new locations. Mr Ernie Pincini from Mirboo North then transformed the building into a picture theatre. It was supposed to open in November 1955 but given post war work shortages and huge labour demand elsewhere, it didn't open until June 1961, not long before the first television transmission was delivered to the area (GLV-10), which quickly saw the picture theatre's demise.
After 1962 the hall was re-opened as a public facility. While shortly known as Yallourn North Hall, the name Monash Hall still adorns the building today. In the 1990s the hall received a minor facelift and coat of paint, and again in 2008 with an upgrade to the kitchen.
In October 2013 the regional growth fund assisted in the completion of a $680,000 redevelopment of the hall. The local cricket club, and junior football club agreed to merge their facilities under the one roof at the hall. Eight months of renevations took place resulting in a brand new multi-purpose commercial kitchen, new club rooms and toilet facilities, as well as extra meeting rooms and wheelchair facilities. It was officially opened by mayor Sandy Cam on 15 October 2013. As well as the sporting groups, common users of the hall include Moartz, Line Dancers, Yallourn North Action Group, and Yallourn North Primary School. It has also held other events recently such as Ballet classes and hosted a Primary School during a local emergency. 
St. Brigid's Catholic Church
In 1933 work on building St.Brigid's commenced on land donated by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (S.E.C.) on the corner of North Road and Reserve Street. It was officially opened and blessed on 1 March 1936 by Bishop Ryan assisted by Father Nolan and the first mass was celebrated that same day. In 1950 the church was enlarged by the addition of the "T" shaped part at the rear under Father Walsh. The original building was lifted and moved at an angle to accommodate the extension on the same block. A few of the parishioners collected money via door knocking to raise extra funds for the work. In December 1979 the house next door became the official Presbytery and was blessed in a ceremony conducted by Bishop Fox. No longer used as a Presbytery, this house is once more a private home.
The Church of England
St.James's was built on "the hill", on a site in Reserve Street, and was dedicated on November 17, 1927. When the little town of Morwell Bridge had to go because of the expanding Yallourn coal mine, the Church of England building was shifted to Brown Coal Mine to be used as a hall. On the eve of its removal it was set alight and required considerable repair. It served the township for a time and was later removed altogether. The first clergyman was the Reverend Vizard who was sent from Walhalla to the Brown Coal Mine in 1920.
The Methodist Church
Brown Coal Mine and Yallourn were at first attached to the Morwell circuit and the Superintendent Minister was the Reverend A.G.Day. Before Yallourn was built he conducted services at the school in Brown Coal Mine. In 1923 a Methodist probationer, Reverend E.L.Vercoe, was appointed to the area and was given accommodation in the Eastern Camp. Services were conducted in the camps, homes and the school buildings.
Reverend Vercoe purchased a mass room in the 1920s and had it erected at Brown Coal Mine on a site not far from the old Main Street. Voluntary workers altered the windows to make them look more like a church and a vestry was added. The church was moved to Reserve Street in 1938, by a bullock team. The main building was extended and a larger vestry and a new porch were added, and a stained glass window was fitted. Some years later, what once had been an ablutions block was added to the rear of the church. It was restored to become an all-purpose room, which still serves the community today. In 1977, the Methodist Church Australia wide, combined with the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches to become "The Uniting Churches in Australia". In the early hours of Boxing Day 1997 tragedy struck the church in the form of fire. The church itself was badly damaged and only the community hall at the rear was saved. The church was demolished and a new modern building was built on the same site. A Service of Celebration for the opening of this new building was held on 2 April 2000.
Yallourn North Today
Yallourn North is still a small and quiet town today, however it is undergoing continual change. The town historically has a higher percentage of older residents, but many of them are moving into more suitable accommodation allowing new families to move in.
The town currently has a good sized Foodworks supermarket that services many needs of the town. However larger supermarkets like coles, Woolworths and Aldi are within driving distance at neighbouring towns. Other shops within the town include the local Fish and Chip shop, Sheek Hairdressing, Central Gippsland Family Practice Medical Centre, Op-Shop and also the Rossmore Hotel. The town has a local mechanic residing in the old petrol station.
The population of the town as of 2006 was 1448, however that is believed to have increased in recent years. A few new dwellings have been built, along with a more rural subdivision outside the township to the east (See: Rennie Property Sales).
The town has a local newsletter subscription that consists of 700 deliveries on a monthly basis. It also has a Yallourn North Facebook page, and is currently working on a town website.
The town has two main sporting reserves. In town is the Yallourn North Hall and Reserve which consists of Monash Hall, the Junior Football Club, Cricket Club, and Tennis Courts. The other sporting reserve is just out of town to the West and is known as George Bates Reserve. This oval hosts the Senior Football club, Netball club, and on occasion hosts cricket matches. The town also has a modern and centrally located Skate Park and BMX track, as well as a Fire Brigade training track.
There is a lawn bowling club in town, as well as a senior citizens club. There is also an Angling club, a Pistol Club, Outdoor Swimming Pool and Museum.
The town also boasts a kindergarten and pre-school.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Yallourn North (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
- Harvey, Colin. "Yallourn Power Station. A History 1919 to 1989, p. 8 State Electricity Commission of Victoria. ISBN 0730635139
- Ringin, Kath. "The Old Brown Coal Mine", p. 58. National Library of Australia, ISBN 0958850100
- Harvey, Colin. "Yallourn Power Station. A History 1919 to 1989, p. 218 State Electricity Commission of Victoria. ISBN 0730635139
- "Landslide leaves bakery on edge of 333ft drop", The Melbourne Sun, Melbourne, 30th June 1950.
- "Part of North Yallourn slips into cut", The Argus, Melbourne, 30 June 1950.
- Bolton, Sue. "Unions scuttle La Trobe Valley anti-privatisation campaign", The Green left weekly, 4 August 1993.
- Chambers, Jessica. "Renovations Complete", Latrobe Valley Express, Victoria, 15 October 2013.
- Gray, Darren. "Smoke from Hazelwood fire causes schools, centres to close", The Age, Melbourne, 14 February 2014.
- The Old Brown Coal Mine Museum