50 towns in 50 days: The lavender fields of Mt Egerton 

CHANGE is no stranger to Mt Egerton.

Although the town has seen many closures in recent years, with the post office and general store both no longer operating, in other ways the community has remained banded together.

The Yuulong Lavender Farm is based just on the edge of Mt Egerton is one business that has withstood closure and has brought young town members out of the woodwork to help during harvest season.

Owners Edythe Anderson and Rosemary Holmes bought 20 acres of land in 1980 hoping to graze cattle.

Instead, with droughts affecting the land, the pair decided to plant lavender.

“When we bought this land it wasn’t meant to be a lavender farm. It was only bought as a holiday retreat. And then we saw photographs of lavender growing in Europe and thought, 'that’s something we want to do',” Ms Holmes said.

“We did a lot of research and discovered it was something that would grow in this climate.”

Three years after the purchase of the original land, they bought another 20 acres before opening the property to the public in 1985.

Ms Holmes said they have seen whole families grow up in the area.

“Almost every young person from the town has worked here during harvest season,” she said.

The town has seen a lot of change since it was settled before the gold rush, then booming during the gold rush.

Ms Holmes said there had been a change in the community.

“Initially there were about 10 churches and 12 pubs. In the late 1800s it was a very big bustling town, but then people started moving away,” she said.

“Now lots of people have built homes in the area and train to Melbourne from Ballan to work, and work their properties on the weekend.

“It’s a great town but it’s a town where people now have to go to Gordon for their paper and for the post office. 

"You've got to Gordon because it’s not in Mt Egerton, and that’s a bit sad. 

“The community is still there but you used to meet everyone in the post office and have a good gossip.”

The basics

Municipality: Moorabool Shire

Population: 215

First settled:1838

Main industries: Agriculture and construction

Claim to fame: Infamous 19th century bushranger Andrew George Scott, also known as Captain Moonlite, was sent to the gold mining town in the late 1860s, after studying to be an Anglican preacher. He was convicted of robbing the Egerton bank, only after escaping jail and being recaptured, and sentenced to 10 years hard labour. He protested his innocence until his dying day.

Five fast facts:

1. The local post office opened in 1863 and closed in 1993

2.  The town is named after its settler, George Egerton, who farmed about 35,000 hectares of land which to outsiders was known as ‘Egerton’s run’.

3.  An important town during the gold rush, gold was first found in 1853.

4. Mt Egerton is home to gold rush scandal. Legend has there was a bank robbery the town that sparked havoc in the region. Andrew George Scott, aka Captain Moonlite, robbed the bank of 1000 pounds before fleeing the area.

5. The local school, Mt Egerton Primary School, that still operates today with 13 students, first opened on November 6 in 1877.

Five things to do:

1 - Take a short drive to the Yuulong Lavender Farm. The farm has been around since the 1980s and is filled with lavender beauty. Take a look at their unique lavender flowers including the Egerton Blue and the Yuulong. The Farm also has a gift shop and tearooms - so feel free to allow some time to try some special lavender tea.

2 - The town’s cemetery is a fascinating destination, small but holds historic gravestones. If in town, make sure you take a look.

3 - Take a walk through the town and look at the old Gold Battery. It is located on the river and represents an important part of the town’s history.

4 - Mt Egerton is located just north east of the Lal Lal Reservoir, so Lal Lal Falls is just a short drive. If in the area, Lal Lal Falls is a must-see stop.

5 - The Egerton State Forest is just on the edge town. Go for a drive and have a picnic or take a walk through the town’s forest.

Mt Egerton's Rosemary Holmes and Edythe Anderson. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Mt Egerton's Rosemary Holmes and Edythe Anderson. PICTURE: KATE HEALY


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