Glenmaggie & Coongulla History
Glenmaggie and Coongulla share an amazing history of hardwork, endeavour and a flooded pub!
First came Malcolm MacFarlane who after some 15 years working the land known then as "Hayfield" came across to Glenmaggie in the 1850's, selected land and settled there. His homestead was built overlooking the glen and the peak of Ben Crauchan, named by MacFarlane himself.
Establishing the Town...
Other settlers followed MacFarlane and the original township of Glenmaggie was born. It was made up of a small settlement and farm blocks which were first offered for sale in 1877.
The first school established around 1875 was Glenmaggie School No. 1576 and at one stage doubled as the post office with mail delivered daily by bicycle from Heyfield. Original teacher, Clara Weekes went on to be a prominent female unuionist and suffragette.
At it's peak the original township had two hotels, three churches, a number of shops and a mechanics institute.
Flooding the Valley... And the Pub...
In 1886 the idea of creating a large water supply for irrigation first emerged but it wasn't until after a devastating drought in 1914 that negotiations began to build a dam across the Macalister river just below Glenmaggie Creek.
This dam would ultimately flood the shallow valley and the Glenmaggie settlement along with it!
The building of the wall was a huge undertaking as only man and horsepower were available at the time. Some 400 horses were used during construction. By 1925 all farms had been vacated, farmers either retired or purchased property elsewhere. Buildings were offered for sale and removal, fortunately some of which were relocated to their current positions at the West side of Lake Glenmaggie. These buildings include the Mechanics Institute, the Town Hall, the Church of England and St. John's Roman Catholic Church.
Fittingly the last building to close in Old Glenmaggie was the hotel, it is said that when the rising water finally reached the bar a last round was drunk and the doors were closed forever!
Over time two communities developed, Glenmaggie on the West side of the weir and Coongulla on the East side.
The weir, originally constructed to assist the sugar beet industry became an integral part of the dairy industry providing surrounding farming communities with water for irrigation purposes.
As time went on the weir, now known as Lake Glenmaggie became a magnet for visitors with a love for water activities and country air!
The Scottish origins of Glenmaggie's name are connected with the cattle runs of the MacFarlane's.
Some books and text written on Glenmaggie include:
"Bark House Days" written by Mary Fullerton
In the 1920's Poet John Shaw Neilson assisted in building the weir wall and wrote several poems whilst in the area.
Film "Gippsland Township Tour"
"Bald Hills to Bundalaguah" produced by Maffra & District Historical Society.
Heyfield & District Historical Society.