Strzelecki is a rural locality in eastern Victoria, situated in hilly country 12 km north-east of Korumburra. It was named after Paul de Strzelecki, a Polish explorer and scientist who travelled through Gippsland, from the upper Murray area to Western Port Bay, in 1840. (Strzelecki’s route was marked by historic memorials in 1927, one being built at Korumburra.  A replotting of Strzelecki’s journey in 1990 indicated that his route was several kilometres north of Korumburra, and hence quite close to the present locality of Strzelecki.)

Apart from Strzelecki’s journey, the next significant exploration was a survey party which marked out McDonald’s Track (1860-62). Settlement followed during the late 1870s, entering Poowong and later moving to Strzelecki, where a school was opened in 1887. The McDonalds Track route into Gippsland was overtaken by the construction of the Great Southern Railway in 1888-91 which successfully crossed the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp lands and took a route from Tooradin to Korumburra.

Thirty years later, after much agitation from the Poowong district, a railway line was constructed from Koo-Wee-Rup to Strzelecki; the last kilometres to Strzelecki traversed steep hills, cuttings and trestle bridges. The opening of the line (1922) coincided with soldier and closer settlement farms along its route. There then occurred an unfortunate combination of circumstances: road metal was brought in by train for road construction, enabling whole milk to be transported out of Strzelecki for processing; the cost of maintaining the line was unacceptably high; and the 1930s depression underscored the uneconomic size of many farms. Until that happened, however, Strzelecki had a general store, a hall, a church, a stockyard and a farming community of about 300 people. (The Strzelecki coal mine was unrelated, being south-east of Korumburra.)

In 1930 the line 5 km back from Strzelecki was closed, but road transport was on the way to being well established.

Strzelecki has retained its agricultural viability for grazing and dairying, but most of the village’s buildings have fallen down or been removed. Those remaining include the mechanics’ institute hall (1905) and a Uniting church. There is also an avenue of honour (1919).

Strzelecki’s census populations have been:

area census date population
Strzelecki 1911 138
  1921 343
  1961 248
Strzelecki and environs 2011 246

At the 2011 census, farming accounted for 31.8% of employment, including 14.4% for dairy farming.

Further Reading

Lech Paszkowski, Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki: reflections on his life, Kew, 1997

Merilyn Ramsay, Steam to Strzelecki: the Koo-Wee-Rup to McDonald’s Track Railway, Australian Railway Historical Society, Victorian Division, 1991

Joseph White, The history of the Shire of Korumburra, Korumburra, 1988

The spirit of Strzelecki, Strzelecki, 2007