Aberfeldy, Victoria

Last updated

Aberfeldy Walhalla Road.jpg
Approach to the town from the north
Australia Victoria Shire of Baw Baw location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates 37°41′S146°22′E / 37.683°S 146.367°E / -37.683; 146.367 Coordinates: 37°41′S146°22′E / 37.683°S 146.367°E / -37.683; 146.367
Population0 (2016 census) [1]
Postcode(s) 3825
Elevation1,060 m (3,478 ft)
LGA(s) Shire of Baw Baw
State electorate(s) Narracan
Federal division(s) Monash
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
12.9 °C
55 °F
4.8 °C
41 °F
1,083.5 mm
42.7 in

Aberfeldy is a locality in Victoria, Australia on Mount Lookout, northeast of the Thomson Dam, 125 km (78 mi) east of Melbourne.



The area began to be inhabited in 1871 following the discovery of alluvial gold, although access was made difficult by the rugged terrain and the harsh winters, with sub-zero temperatures and much snow.

Aberfeldy Land Sale 1877, courtesy Public Records Office Victoria Aberfeldy Land Sale 1877.jpg
Aberfeldy Land Sale 1877, courtesy Public Records Office Victoria

The first Aberfeldy Post Office opened on 1 January 1872. [2] It finally closed permanently in 1967. The postmaster from 1880 to 1884 was Henry Donaldson, whose sister, Elizabeth Donaldson had married the Aberfeldy butcher Thomas Dwyer, originally from Tipperary, Ireland.

The eldest of the three Dwyer children was John Patrick, born in Aberfeldy in 1879. His parents both died in 1884, so the children were taken in by their Scottish grandparents David and Annie Donaldson, who ran the general store in nearby Morwell. [3] At that time Henry Donaldson also left Aberfeldy, going to be postmaster in Heyfield, Victoria. [4]

John Partick Dwyer was a child prodigy and after qualifying as a solicitor in Melbourne he was called to the Bar at the age of 23. He moved to Western Australia in 1904 where he stood out as the possessor of a brilliant legal mind. He was appointed Chief Justice of Western Australia and was knighted in 1946, and then distinguished with a KCMG in 1949. [5] He and his wife are buried together in a simple grave in Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth. [6]

Aberfeldy was surveyed and proclaimed in 1885. It was initially known as Mount Lookout but was eventually renamed after the Scottish town of Aberfeldy. [7] At its peak, the township had a population of around 500. After the end of the gold rush the townsfolk depended for their livelihood upon sheep and cattle grazing and the production of potatoes and other crops. [8]

Following the First World War, the population diminished, although the locality managed to survive. The town hotel was burned down in 1938 and the Black Friday bush-fires of 1939 destroyed many of the buildings in the locality. [9]

On 10 March 1942 a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk of the United States Army Air Force flown by Captain Joseph P McLaughlin crashed near Aberfeldy on a flight from Canberra to Laverton. The plane was discovered in 1948. [10] [11] [12] and in 2005 the pilot's remains were identified and taken to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. [13]

A road was built to the town of Matlock by 1950, but it was not maintained and became unusable.

Apart from John Patrick Dwyer, the locality's most well-known inhabitant was Kitty Cane, a former dancer and mining investor who owned a successful roadside tavern. Legend has it that when Cane died, her loyal customers and the local miners decided to carry her coffin to the Aberfeldy cemetery. However, since Cane was unusually heavy, weighing 22 stone (140 kilos) and because the miners were intoxicated, the coffin never made it to the cemetery. Instead the miners buried her beside the road. [14] When travelling from The Thomson Dam to Aberfeldy, Kitty Cane's grave is about a kilometre (0.6 miles) after the Cast Iron Point lookout and on the left hand side of the Walhalla-Woods Point Road, Thompson. It is recorded in the Victorian Heritage Inventory: H8122-0102.

Today (2011) there is only one permanent resident, the historian Grahame Code (who has lived in the area for 50 years), and his family. There is several holiday homes which are occupied occasionally. Land was released for public sale in 1999. [8] Remains of some of the former gold-rush era buildings are still visible.


Aberfeldy features a cold oceanic climate (Cfb); owing to its elevation and southerly latitude, as well as its somewhat exposed position astride the ranges (although sheltered from the north and west).

Aberfeldy is frequently coated in snowfall, receiving an average of 32.5 snowy days annually. [15]

Climate data for Aberfeldy (1891–1985); 1,060 m AMSL; 37.70° S, 146.37° E
Record high °C (°F)32.0
Average high °C (°F)20.4
Average low °C (°F)9.4
Record low °C (°F)0.6
Average precipitation mm (inches)68.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Aberfeldy

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  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Aberfeldy (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 24 August 2020. OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  2. Phoenix Auctions History, Post Office List , retrieved 7 February 2021
  3. Madden, IT 1973, Morwell historical society news, vol. 12, no. 5, 15 November, p. 20 & p. 39 viewed 30 Aug 2018
  4. Waghorn JF 1987, Index: Victoria’s Postmasters and Postmistresses, 1838–1901, self-published, Victoria.
  5. 'The Old Boys', Pegasus, Geelong College, June 1959 viewed 28 Sep 2018, .
  6. Mather, K 2020, 'Tipperary meets Lanarkshire in Australia: the kith and kin of Sir John Dwyer KCMG', Journal of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, vol. 21, pp. 5–15.
  7. Kennedy, B: Australian Place Names, page 1. ABC Books, 2006
  8. 1 2 Steenhuis, L: Ghost Towns of the Mountain Goldfields, page 6. Research Publications, 1999.
  9. Tomlin, O F 1979, Gold for the finding: a pictorial history of Gippsland's Jordan goldfield, Hill of Content, Melbourne, p. 133.
  10. Crash of a P40E Kittyhawk into a mountain at Aberfeldy in Victoria on 10 March 1942 Oz at War Retrieved 30 November 2016
  11. P-40E Warhawk Serial Number 41-5526 Pacific Wrecks Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  12. A Missoula pilot's long goodbye: More than 60 years after Australia crash, Missoula man's remains identified 3 November 2005 Missoulan Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  13. The lost US airman of Aberfeldy 23 March 2016 abc.net.au Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  14. Kitty Cane's Grave , retrieved 11 April 2015
  15. Annual snow days sorted by rainfall district -- VIC

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