|Population||6,860 (2006 census)|
|Elevation||88 m (289 ft)|
|LGA(s)||South Gippsland Shire|
|State electorate(s)||Gippsland South|
Leongatha // is a town in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, South Gippsland Shire, Victoria, Australia, located 135 kilometres (84 mi) south-east of Melbourne. The town is the civic, commercial, industrial, religious, educational and sporting centre of the region.[clarification needed] At the 2006 census, Leongatha had a population of 6,860.
The Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Limited, is a farmers' co-operative which trades in Australia under the Devondale label, and has a dairy processing plant just north of the town producing milk-based products for Australian and overseas markets.
First settlement of the area by Europeans occurred in 1845. The Post Office opened as Koorooman on 1 October 1887 and renamed Leongatha in 1891 when a township was established on the arrival of the railway.
The town is located on the South Gippsland Highway which links Leongatha to Melbourne. Leongatha was formerly situated along the South Gippsland railway corridor that operated to its terminus at Yarram in the early 1980s and Leongatha in the mid 1990s. A V/Line road coach service replaced the rail service on July 24, 1993, running between Melbourne and Yarram. However, since the closure of the South Gippsland rail line with the exception of the locally run tourist railway between Nyora and Leongatha by the Kennett Victorian government on December 14, 1994. The South and West Gippsland Transport Group represented by the local council are campaigning for the passenger and freight rail services to be reinstated beyond the current terminus at Cranbourne by the 2020s. The line beyond Leongatha is being used as a rail trail for public use and also the former Wonthaggi line. The Dandenong to Cranbourne is being used by the Melbourne Suburban train company, while the section beyond Cranbourne - Nyora is in an unusable state for trains to operate.
A second service runs from Traralgon to Wonthaggi. There is also a third bus service running from Venus Bay, through Tarwin Lower and Koonwarra connecting with the V/Line services that depart from Leongatha. This is a trial service and will run for one year before a decision is made on whether or not to run the service permanently. The Leongatha Airport is located south of the town and serves general aviation.
Leongatha is a major educational hub for South Gippsland, with Leongatha Secondary College, Leongatha Primary School, South Gippsland Specialist School and GippsTafe (Leongatha Campus) as well as St Lawrence's Catholic Primary School, Mary MacKillop Catholic Regional College and South Coast Christian College for Prep level to year 12.
- The Daffodil Festival is held annually in September. Competitions are held and many daffodil varieties are on display. A garden competition is also held.
- The South Gippsland Railway runs historical diesel locomotives and railcars between Nyora and Leongatha, passing through Korumburra.
- The railway line from Leongatha to Foster has been converted into the Great Southern Rail Trail, for the shared use of horse riding, walking and cycling.
The Great Southern Rail Trail is in the process of procuring finance to extend the trail as far as Yarram. At the present time the Wellington Shire have financed the first portion of the trail from Yarram to Alberton with the present Committee of Management intending to manage that portion in the foreseeable future. The Rail Trail commences at the end of Parr Street with a car park planned for the future to assist with access to the trail in the future. Walkers can access the trail from the children's park next to the old rail bridge in Leongatha at the end of Bair Street.
Leongatha has a community theatre company, the "Lyric Theatre Company" that regularly stages theatrical productions. The town has a medieval society, the "Leongatha Medieval Society", which re-enacts 14th-century weapons, armour and fighting styles. The Medieval Society can be seen each month at Coal Creek Community Park and Museum at Korumburra.
For a rural Australian town, Leongatha has an unusually wide range of sports including: athletics, basketball, badminton, cricket, croquet, cycling (BMX, road and track), equestrian, football (Australian rules, association and indoor soccer), golf, gymnastics, hockey (field and underwater), lawn bowls, martial arts (karate and taekwondo), netball, shooting, skateboarding, softball, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball (indoor and beach). The town's Australian Rules football club, the Leongatha Football Club ("The Parrots"), competes in the Gippsland Football League. Golfers play at the course of the Leongatha Golf Club on Inverloch-Koonwarra Road, Leongatha South, or at the course of the Woorayl Golf Club at the Recreation Reserve.
Community services include CFA, SES, Police, ambulance. Other community organisations include Scouts (cubs, scouts, venturers and rovers), Girl Guides, and Salvation Army Youth Corps. The town also boasts a large YMCA complex (including pool, gym and basketball courts) plus a four theatre complex.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Leongatha (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- Sid Brown (March 1990). "Tracks Across the State". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 71–76.
- Chris Banger (March 1997). "Rail Passenger Service Withdrawals Since 1960". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 77–82.
- Cranbourne Transit website, accessed 23 November 2006
- "V/Line Timetable Search". www.vline.com.au. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
- "Schools Section Page". www.leongatha.vic.au. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
- "Leongatha Lyric Theatre". Theatre People Australia. Retrieved 16 Jun 2012.
- Leongatha Medieval Society
- Ashtrep Pty Ltd (2002). "Leongatha Recreation Reserve Strategy Plan" (PDF). Leongatha Recreation Reserve Committee of Management. Retrieved 16 Jun 2012.
- SGL Consultants (2009). "Aquatic Strategy for South Gippsland, Volume 3" (PDF). South Gippsland Shire Council. Retrieved 16 Jun 2012.
- @Leisure (2007). "South Gippsland Shire Recreation Plan, Volume 3" (PDF). South Gippsland Shire Council. Retrieved 16 Jun 2012.
- Golf Select. "Leongatha". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- Golf Select. "Woorayl". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
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