History

History

The Orbost district was first settled when Peter Imlay established the Snowy River Station for grazing in 1842. In 1845 the land was sold to Norman McLeod, who named the area after Orbost farm in the northwest of Isle of Skye, in Scotland.

The Cameron family settled on the rich alluvial river flats in 1876, followed by many other selectors, many of them Scottish migrants. The Orbost Post Office opened on 1 December 1880 named Neumerella and was renamed Orbost in 1883. A Newmerella office opened in 1889 and closed in 1897, then reopened in 1921. The township of Orbost was proclaimed in 1890 and a bridge constructed across the Snowy River and a telegraph office established. Sawmills were established in the area and the first batch of sawn timber was cut at Orbost in 1882. By the late 1890s produce was regularly being exported to Melbourne via coastal trading vessels sailing up the Snowy River to Orbost. The railway from Melbourne arrived in 1916, allowing further agricultural settlement up the valley, and exploitation of native hardwood forests for timber and railway sleepers.

For most of the 20th century, Orbost was a fairly prosperous local centre for the forestry and agricultural industries and a supply point for smaller towns in the area. In the 1950s and 1960s several new sawmills were opened to exploit the native forests north and east of Orbost. By the 1980s logging of East Gippsland native forests had become an environmental issue. This resulted in the creation or extension of National Parks in the area, and a steady decline in forestry and sawmilling jobs. The general rural decline of the area and its economy saw the railway close in the mid-1980s and the population drop from around 4000 to around 2000 by the start of the 21st century. The conversion of the disused rail line to the East Gippsland Rail Trail has created a cycle tourism industry in the town.
17°C

Orbost, Vic

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Wind: ENE at 17.70 km/h
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