In 1840 Angus McMillan and Paul de Strzelecki were the first European explorers to travel through the area.
In 1841 it was Malcolm MacFarlane, nephew of James MacFarlane one of New South Wale's first squatters, who travelled to this idyllic spot searching for pastoral land on behalf of his Uncle. When he first came upon the area the grass was as high as the horse's withers and he likened it to a field of waving corn naming it "Hayfield".
MacFarlane travelled up the Mitta Mitta river to Omeo where he obtained a mob of good quality beef cattle to stock Hayfield, in those days to stock land was to take possession of it.
Heyfield Station... It's Many Owners... And Battling For The Bridge...
For a good 15 years Malcolm MacFarlane managed Hayfield for his uncle, driving fat cattle to Port Albert to be shipped to Tasmania for a tidy profit, until it was eventually sold to Robert Firebrace.
In 1866 it became the property of James Tyson, Australia's first and famed millionaire squatter. Then known as Heyfield Station, it comprised of approximately 14,000 acres. Tyson considered it small compared to his holdings in New South Wales and Queensland and he affectionately referred to it as his "cabbage patch".
In 1878 as a result of a dispute with the Rosedale Council, Tyson blocked off the bridge which allowed access to and from Heyfield over the Thompson river. A fight for control of the bridge ensued between Tyson and the locals and bullocks were bought in to tear away the barriers put up by Tyson on the bridge. This confrontation is now affectionately known as the "Battle of the Bridge".
Tyson died whilst interstate in 1898, after which a syndicate purchased Heyfield Station, dividing it into 114 farms and auctioning them off.
Establising the Town...
The town of Heyfield grew up as a stopping point for diggers on their way to the Gippsland Goldfields and the Post Office was opened in 1870. Heyfield State School No. 1108 was opened in 1871 with 40 pupils, but St. Michael's school wasn't opened until 1954.
The railway came through from Traralgon to Heyfield in 1883 and continued on through Tinamba to Maffra by 1887.
The Heyfield Methodist Church began to hold services in 1866, the St. James Church of England was built in 1874 with Miss Marie Temple laying the foundation stone and St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church was opened in 1889. Four local streets still bare the names of MacFarlane, Firebrace, Tyson and Temple.
Stockyards and Timbermills...
In approximately 1891 one of the area's first co-operative butter factories was built and extensive saleyards constructed right in town servicing surrounding farms and cattlemen holding alpine leases.
In 1939 as a result of the destructive Black Friday Bushfires timber milling operations were brought out of the bush and Heyfield continued to grow as one of the states largest sawmilling towns with no less than seven mills operating in town.
It is this proud heritage of farming and sawmilling that continues on in Heyfield today.
Celebrated author Mary Grant Bruce was inspired by Heyfield Station when writing her much loved "Billabong" series of books, after staying there in 1910.
"Bald Hills to Bundalaguah" produced by Maffra & District Historical Society.
Heyfield & District Historical Society.