Morwell River history

This 41-kilometre river weaving its way through the Latrobe Valley has a rich history. Starting near Yallourn/Tyers off the Latrobe River – near the turn off to Morwell Bridge Road.

Fishing: Blackfish, Trout and Crayfish (the cheap lobster).

Fishing along the Morwell River used to be such a way of a life the paper carefully reported the catches and informed the locals of what went on with it.

In 1916, a monster 9.5-kilogram eel was caught by G.S Little nearly a meter and a half – with an 8-inch Blackfish still in its stomach. There had been rumours in 1910 of eels being caught 1.2-meter eels had been caught in the river near the Boolarra township.

In 1912, rainbow trout was doing so well in the Upper Morwell River, it was commended by the Weekly Times along with the Upper Yarra and Sevens Creek at Euroa.

A trout hatchery, in 1916, was requested for the mouth of the Morwell River to ensure native fish thrived.

Night soil concern in 1929

As Morwell Bridge grew quickly and more buildings were built in close proximity to the Morwell River, there was concern about unauthorised disposal of night soil material. Night soil material is the contents of the toilet pans kept in outhouses. They suggested commencement of a double pan service to avoid unauthorised disposal hoping the nightman could pick it up and dispose of it a safe distance from the river.

Morwell River pollution 1936

The council health officer took a sample of the Morwell River at Yinnar for testing. The determination the water was unusable for domestic purposes or even cleaning dairy utensils without first being sterilised.  All forms of excrement found in the river creating super high levels Balantidium Coli. It’s a parasite that is caught through drinking contaminated water or eating a cyst containing one. There was milk waste in the river as well. Pigs were farmed along the river and allowed to cool in the stream, as well as runoff from the pens and farms also flowed into it.

The council saw factory waste as well and requested they add proper water treatment before allowing the water to return to the river.

Signs were erected along the river to warn of the danger to human health and warned against using it for cleaning.

Flood Eastern Branch of the Morwell River

Morwell River flooded near Boolarra in August 1891, June 1901, October 1910, and June 1946.

In 1911, experts arrived in Morwell for the mines, however due to flooding were unable to reach them.

Flooding in 1923, between Morwell and Yinnar resutling in the tribune Eel Hole Creek flooded over the railway line stopping the train to Mirboo for sometime. The children who attended Hazelwood South Primary school were able return home due to the flooding. It was described as a record flood. The Morwell River also flooded the Princes Highway just before Morwell running over the concrete bridges.

The Morwell River at Morwell Bridge broke the banks flooding the flats in August 1935.

In 1953, the Morwell River rose two feet per hour at Boolarra because 371 points of rain had fallen in twenty hours. The police were worried about the effects this would have on the Morwell Township.

Diverting the river

As a result of the 1935 flood of the Morwell River at Morwell Bridge a discussion commenced of diverting the river because sand and silt filled up the mouth. Landowners were asked to pay for it, and were worried that the blockage was caused by slips from the SEC who didn’t admit to it at the time. There was no action taken at the time due to the Morwell Shire not entering into the Latrobe scheme nor two of the affected farmers – Maxwell and Morrison.

In 1949, Premiere Holloway said the river flowed over coal deposits, it was part of the town planning in the Latrobe Valley. It was suggested to be altered from North of Yinnar to join the Latrobe River East of Maryvale. This same proposal suggested limiting construction along the rivers route.


Diverted in 2003 for the Strezlecki Highway diversion and extension of the Hazelwood mine.

This project was undertaken by RTL and was the fifth time the river was diverted.



In 1888, the Morwell Advertiser published this Poem on the river by  E.T.K.

By E. T. K. to  George Green
Here, on thy tranquil tide, oh stream!
I see the life of man thus calmly rolling
Through brake and tell, through tangled weed
You run for over flowing. ‘
Now mirrored in yon prattling wave
Are viewed the scones of childhood’s hour.
Now laughing prancing towards the shade
Through many a sweet enchanted bower.
Sweet droop the maiden ferns that grace thy stream;
Green slope thy banks, that lie so fallow;
Thy murmuring waters laving now
The dimpling moss, and verdant mallow.
The violets pure, and chaste forget-mo-not,
Upon thy sunlit waves are glancing;
Thi crimson heath that deck thy fields
But crowns thee with a glory, soft enchanting.
These are our days of dreamland youth,
When hopes in brightest hues aspiring –
Calls haply from thy lingering stream
Sweet scented flowers, dear memories undying.
Remembrances perchance, that like thy flowers
Play in soft dalliance to the gentle breeze,
That waft along Its evening waters
The perfumed odours of long-forgotten years.
But sterling now from shades of vernal spring
Th peaceful stream is rudely hurried
O’er many a crag, o’er many a thornful bramble ;
In many a grove and dell ’tis buried
Till merging to stream of wider, greater range
Thy still and tranquil waters mirror
Sweet gently peace enchanting calm,
And joins the Greater River.
Oh! would that, like yonder stream
Could steal through scenes of life so kindred
My soul would glide along the course of Time
In rapture’s sleep, nor think its years were numbered.
I’d trace far round throughout creation’s dome
The presence of the Great Unseen, His soul, eternal
Whose whispering voice, whose heaving breath
Lift me, in triumph now o’er Destiny and Death