TRAWALLA may be a tiny town on the Western Highway but it punches well above its weight in historical importance.
Situated at the headwaters of Mount Emu Creek, Trawalla is best known as the birthplace of Australia’s ninth Prime Minister, James Scullin, who held the position from 1929 until 1931.
Scullin was Prime Minister during arguably two of the toughest years in Australian history, as the Great Depression began to grip the population following the infamous stock market crash of 1929.
Trawalla was also one of the earliest settlements in the Ballarat region.
In 1838, the Kirkland and Hamilton families established the Trawalla Station sheep and cattle grazing run but it wasn’t Rear Admiral Bridges acquired it in 1887 that one of the area’s grandest structures, the heritage listed Trawalla House, was constructed amid eight acres of cultivated gardens.
These days, however, Trawalla is probably most recognisable as the hub of the Ballarat region’s hang gliding industry, with gliders visible above the town most days each week.
Trawalla Primary School principal Kate Morcombe said the school acted as a hub to bind the Trawalla community together.
“I find the community is full of people with similar interests, some have come from interstate, others have relocated from Ballarat and some are second or third generation farming families,” she said.
“I think our school is where our community is going to build from.”
Ms Morcombe said the school’s student population was just 21 and that often appealed to the many young families who were choosing to settle around the district.
“Where we are we have the best of both worlds, we have a lovely quiet country area but we are close to Ballarat, so we are close to services,” she said.
Municipality: Pyrenees Shire
First settled: 1838
Main industries: Sheep, cattle, crop and chicken farming.
Claim to fame: Birthplace of Australia’s ninth Prime Minister, James Scullin.
Five fast facts
1. Sitting at the headwaters of Mt Emu Creek, Trawalla was named by the Moner balug clan of the Wathaurong people. It is thought to mean 'wild water' or 'much rain'.
2. The Kirkland and Hamilton families were the first European settlers in the area, establishing the sheep and cattle grazing run Trawalla Station in 1838.
3. After passing through several owners, Trawalla Station was taken over by Rear Admiral Bridges in 1887, who constructed the heritage listed Trawalla House on 28 acres, eight of which feature cultivated gardens.
4. Australia's ninth Prime Minister, James Scullin, was born in Trawalla in 1876. The Labor politician held the position during the first two years of the Great Depression, from 1929 to 1931.
5. Trawalla has a namesake, heritage listed mansion in the prestigious Melbourne suburb of Toorak. Retired Trawalla pastoralist John Simson bought the property in 1885 and named it after his country town.
Five things to do
1. Go hang gliding. Local company Dynamic Flight Hang Gliding Company has been operating courses at Trawalla since 1991. They cater from beginners through to the experienced.
2. Visit the historic Trawalla Homestead. Set on eight acres of cultivated gardens, tours of the estate are available by appointment for groups of 15 or more. It also opens to the public some weekends as part of the national open garden scheme.
3. Have a picnic in the James Scullin Memorial Park by the Mt Emu Creek. It was opened by Gough Whitlam in 1971.
4. Fish for redfin or go platypus spotting in Mt Emu Creek. Recent research by the Australian Platypus Conservancy found platypi are breeding successfully in the creek.
5. Attend the end of year concert at the Trawalla Primary School hall. The school has 21 students from prep through to grade six.