A town memoralised in fountains of good memories. Really the only thing missing in way of a memorial is a fountain. I guess one of the benefits of having an expiration date, with a defined ending to a town makes people consider the good things which they put in writing defending their town. Sharing stories of their town to whoever would listen in an effort to save it, would cement a lot of those stories, reminiscing over the good things that happened. It united them. While the site of the town is no more they have preserved a virtual Yallourn. A place of reminiscing and loads of photos, and a community, whilst no longer located in the same space, a vibrant community none-the-less. They have annual reunions.
I should back up for the readers who aren’t in the Latrobe Valley, or wider Gippsland.
Yallourn, the name is a combination of two GunaiKurnai words Yalleen meaning Brown and Lourne meaning Fuel or Fire. The Brown Coal (also known as lignite coal) was the reason for its inception and it’s destruction. This was the second attempt to mine the brown coal in what is now known as the Latrobe Valley. A previous attempt had failed due to the moisture and the NSW black coal being more viable. The part of the process we had the most difficulty with was creating briquettes to fire up the boilers, after a change of management to the Victorian State Government who set up the State Electricity Commission (SEC as it was more commonly known), hiring of some German experts in briquette making Yallourn was born, and there was a future for Yallourn to power the whole state. The power industry and mining created an employment boom, the numbers in the town and surrounding camps grew.
Yallourn was a company town, run by the company to house the workers, and administration. This posed it’s own challenges. In the 1930’s volunteer community groups had sprung up to help build Yallourn and bring heart and soul, with dancing, bands, and a whole host of other communal activities. The Boulevard was completed as originally planned shortly after world war one, with shops and the theater.
In 1968 there was discussions the town was too costly to maintain, and in 1971 the residents told it would shut down. The residents rallied to save the town, to no avail. By 1981 the town was a ghost town, the last residents remember watching the bones of the town leave on the back of trucks, it wasn’t the same place they’d fought to save. The brick buildings, built with bricks stamped with the towns name on them, where also shipped out as they dismantled buildings and built them elsewhere. A little piece of Yallourn has moved to all corners of the state, a lot of it stayed in the Latrobe Valley, but some of those houses moved far away.
This is an excellent history of the people who migrated and lived in the North Camp. It has history about Yallourn as well, because that was the major employer in the area. This book also looks at immigration policy and how that affected migrants of the North Camp. It describes the conditions from the early settlement of Yallourn and the surrounding camps. I found it an enthralling read and great resource on Yallourn and the Brown Coal Mine (which was the North camp and today is called Yallourn North).
I found this really inspiring listening to the accounts told and feelings conveyed throughout.
Is a wonderful collection of stories from residents of Yallourn with a little bit of an introduction at the start. There are lots of pictures, and the personal recollections are a great record of everyday life in and around Yallourn.
The photos in the meme, postcard and broadway are both out of copyright but here is the links to find them at the State Library of Victoria
Thanks to Star FM Gippsland and Brad and Mandy for the audio file of our very first radio interview, regarding the Haunted Hills Tours and the Ghost Whisperer.
If you don’t want (don’t have time) to listen (I was so nervous), the highlights are:
I grew up in a house that was born in Yallourn and raised in Leongatha.
I think there is more to the Haunted Hills than the accepted answer that the coal and gas caused the sounds that startled the cattle, causing them to stampede.
Below you can hear Tegan explain the Haunted Hills phenomenon, and what you can expect on the guided walking tour of Yallourn North, Victoria.
Haunted Hills Tours, is an up and coming Ghost Tour experience in Yallourn North, revealing ghost stories from the Brown Coal Mine and Yallourn Townships.
What is a ghost tour?
A ghost tour is an experienced based walking tour of Yallourn North. The tour guide reveals the long forgotten secrets of the town. Points of interest include paranormal and macabre events. But mostly, it’s about the history we don’t relish. It’s something we’re quietly curious about. That’s the basics of a ghost tour. Join us to discover more.
Will I have a paranormal encounter?
A paranormal encounter is not guaranteed. We do our best to ensure you have an experience discovering lots of interesting things about Yallourn and the Brown Coal Mine.
Do ghost tours operate in the rain?
Yes, we have umbrellas to share. We suggest you wear weather appropriate shoes and clothes for your own comfort.
Do ghost tours operate during bush-fires?
We will take advice from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and let you know, via email and on our social media pages. If we do cancel due to a bush-fire, we will refund pre-purchased tickets.
Is there a lot of walking?
Yes. Yallourn North is on a gentle slope. There are uneven surfaces. If you have accessibility issues issues please let us know, we’d love to ensure your experience is a great one.
How long does the ghost tour last?
It’s an hour and half. This is the length of time the material and walking to the different locations will take.
What do I need to wear?
Clothes, please. Weather appropriate is a bonus. As the tours run at night time it can get quite chilly even if the day was warm. Winter is cold (June-August).
What happens if I need to leave the tour early?
We hope that doesn’t happen. We’ll direct you back to the car park. There is no refund.
Can I smoke on the ghost tour?
No, thank-you. We might miss an apparition.
Can I drink alcohol on the tour?
We want to explore the spirits of the past, and hear about the sly grog trade in Yallourn. We don’t need present day examples and it isn’t tolerated on the tour for your safety and that of the others on the tour.
For more information regarding