Lockington is a rural town in northern Victoria. It is 180 km north of Melbourne and 20 km north-west of Rochester.

The township was named Lockington in 1921, less than ten years after irrigation was extended to the district by the Waranga Western Channel, converting a dry farming area to orcharding and dairying. The district was first known as Pine Grove, the name of a pastoral run taken up by John Patterson in 1846. When irrigation came in 1909 the main settlement was Bamawm. The Elmore and Cohuna railway was opened through the district in 1915. The railway station was named Bamawm, and the post office was named Pannoo-Bamawm. Neither name was popular with the progress association, which suggested naming the township after Father William Lockington (1871-1948), a Jesuit priest, superior of eleven Jesuit communities, anti-Conscriptionist and noted author and lecturer. He was closely associated with Archibishop Mannix. The Railways Commissioners adopted the suggested name in 1921.

The advent of the railway station gave Lockington an advantage over earlier surrounding settlements, and commercial and social activity migrated to the new township. A school was opened in 1917, a memorial hall, cafe and lending library were opened in 1922 and a store was transported from Tennyson to Lockington in 1923. A golf club began in 1927.

The irrigated closer settlement blocks were used for orcharding and dairying, but difficulties were encountered when poor rainfall and insufficient water storage coincided in 1916. Three years later heavy rains caused drainage problems, and some waterlogged orchards were uprooted. Dairying gradually took over. Irrigation was made more reliable when the Sugarloaf (Eildon) reservoir fed additional water in 1927 to the Waranga system. The Victorian municipal directory described Lockington in 1933 as a thriving town in an established irrigation district. It had memorial and Masonic halls, two churches, branches of two banks, a State school, a coffee palace, stores and monthly livestock sales.

Lockington’s population reached a peak at over 600 people shortly after World War II. Between then and the mid-1960s, the state electricity grid was connected (1947), a consolidated school was established (1954) by the closure of three schools in the Bamawm district, a bush nursing centre was opened (1959), and a swimming pool was built (1966).

In addition to the postwar facilities already mentioned Lockington has a hotel, community and infant welfare centres, several sports clubs and three churches. The school had about 250 pupils in 1998 and 138 in 2014. A heritage complex and museum were opened in 1997.

Lockington’s census populations have been:

census date population
1933 379
1954 663
1976 409
1996 375
2011 376

Further Reading

Suzanne J. Hutchinson, A dairy farm at Lockington, Cassell Australia, 1967

Fae Stevens and Elizabeth O’Brien, Then...the water wheel turned: a history of Lockington and district 1867-1967, Rochester Shire Council, 1967

Margaret O’Brien, Bark huts to better times: a history of schools in the Lockington district 1874-2003, Lockington, 2003

Frank Dullard, Endurance and motivation survives: Lockington history book, Lockington, 1997