Bandicoot, with his interest in history (his own history runs well back into the 20th century), went on the alert when Professor Buxton mentioned old, mercifully abandoned state government plans to subdivide the Moorooduc Plain for housing.  Pictured: farmland for sale, 2013, Moorooduc Plain

for sale, farmThis undulating, fertile farmland begins behind Mt Eliza and stretches slightly west of south to where the hinterland begins, past where Peninsula Link meets the Mornington Peninsula freeway, and extends in a wide irregular swathe east and west, towards Mornington and Somerville.

Bandicoot’s electronic know-all tells him that “Moorooduc is a rural district in the centre of the Mornington Peninsula, with Mornington to its west and Somerville to its east. It is 50 km south-east of Melbourne.

“Much of Moorooduc comprises well-grassed grazing and stud properties, edged with cypress windbreaks. Its relatively cleared condition is a product of human influence, as early accounts mention timber harvesting and Stumpy Gully Road is further evidence of the original tree cover. The soil, however, is good for agriculture.

Pictured: Moorooduc quarry lake, with the plain, unsubdivided, beyond.

Moorooduc lake-view“The name Moorooduc was derived from a word recorded by a Government surveyor in 1854, thought to be an Aboriginal expression describing a swamp or flat area. In contrast, Moorooduc is mostly an elevated plain or slightly undulating.

“Settlement by farm selection began during the early 1860s and in 1865 the Moorooduc primary school was opened. There was cereal growing, orcharding and dairying. A butter factory operated during 1897-1908.

“In 1889 a railway line running in an arc from Frankston to Mornington, around the physical obstruction of Mount Eliza, had a station at Moorooduc North. A cool store was built a short way east of the railway station for the storing of apples, pears, and stone fruit. Orcharding extended east to Somerville, where there were also large fruit tree nurseries.

Berwick, with a few patches of land still being farmed. For how long?

Berwick“A hall was built in 1915, a general store was opened in the 1920s and an Anglican church functioned during 1932-93.The general store and the cool store no longer perform their original purposes and both are antique/craft centres.

“In Moorooduc South there was a steep, divided piece of land known as the Devil’s Den. In the 1960s it, along with adjacent farmland, was acquired for a water storage for the increasing population of the Mornington Peninsula.

“A short way west of the Devil Bend reservoir there is a public reserve of remnant woodland. The reserve was decommissioned as a water supply facility in 2006 and became part of the Devilbend Natural Features Reserve.”

Elsewhere, Bandicoot found further illumination:

“A short walk from Moorooduc railway station is the Moorooduc Quarry Flora and Fauna Reserve. Native wildflowers and grass are abundant in the reserve, along with 45 species of birds. The lake is home to a number of waterbirds. The odd koala can sometimes be seen in the eucalyptus trees.

Quarry aerial“The circuit walk is 1.7 kilometres. It is quite steep in places and the track is not the best. To get to the lookout without the climb, start either from Allison Rd or Canadian Bay Road. Either is a short walk to the lookout. Canadian Bay Road is closer, but the views are less spectacular.”

A further fertile information source yielded Moorooduc’s businesses and services:

wineries & vineyards; greenhouses, equipment & supplies; pest control; building contractors; cat boarding; fencing contractors; horse riding; motor engineers & repairers; excavating & earth moving contractors; farm contracting services; firewood; furniture removals & storage; horse stud breeders &/or dealers; nurseries-retail; restaurants; solar energy; alpaca & llama breeders; builders’, contractors’ and handyman’s equipment hire; christmas trees & decorations; computer equipment – repairs, service & upgrades; crane hire; excavating & earth moving equipment; horse transport services; and hot water systems.

How much of this activity would have survived in a boring suburb? Certainly not the alpacas. And the view from the quarry reserve …