Bruthen is situated in the country of the Brabralung people of the Gunaikurnai clan. The Gunaikurnai people have lived in this area for many thousands of years.
We acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as the Traditional Custodians of this land, and pay respect to elders past and present.
Today, Bruthen’s European built history is evident in the historic streetscape, the railway line now converted to the East Gippsland Rail Trail, and many other relics of our past to be found in the surrounding area.
History of Bruthen and District
Bruthen sits in the foothills of the rugged Great Dividing Range which shaped the history of all those who made their home here. As in the old days roads lead North, East, South and West from Bruthen.
The Gunaikurnai are the first people of this Country. The Gunaikurnai have survived for tens of thousands of years, often through very difficult times. They looked after this Country passing on stories and traditions through countless generations, maintaining their connection to Country and to ancestors.
In the 1840s, the first European pastoralists used the Tambo Valley as a route from the Monaro to the Gippsland plains. Matthew and Thomas Macalister took up the area as the Kilmorie Run in 1845. In the 1860s the Tambo Valley was quickly taken up by settlers.
Wheat, oats and potatoes were grown on the fertile river flats and by the 1880s maize and hops were also important crops. Later the timber industry became important for the economy of the region.
Bruthen’s location made it a popular stopping off spot on important trade routes. In the 1860s steamers began to transport goods between Mossiface and Melbourne along the Tambo. The Tambo Shire office was based in Bruthen from 1882. Bruthen Station opened in 1916 with the coming of the railway.
Steamer traffic stopped in the 1930’s, rail services ceased in 1987, and the Shire of Tambo amalgamated with the East Gippsland Shire in 1994. Today the town still has a strong farming community and is a popular stop for tourists.
Signs of Bruthen’s history can be seen in the old buildings and the railway line now converted to the East Gippsland Rail Trail.
Self Guided Bruthen History Walk & Heritage Display
You can start the Bruthen History Walk at any point along the map, but a good place to start is at the Heritage Huts and the Art & Information Centre.
The Art & Information Centre building is approximately 110 years old, and was relocated to its current site in 2010 when it faced demolition. The oldest wooden shop in town it has been a Chemist shop, SP Bookie, fruit shop and an Op Shop.
The two Heritage Huts were also saved from deterioration and relocated to their current site in 2016, to become the home for the Bruthen Heritage Displays. The Fettlers Hut and the Police Lockup are significant remnants of the history of our local area. Look for the signage at each hut for more information.
On the Bruthen History Walk you will also see what remains of the old Royal Mail Hotel built around 1882, the Bruthen General Store operating in its current building since 1882, the Post Office built in 1890, the Mechanics Hall built in 1883, and the old Star Hotel built around 1880.
The Bruthen Heritage Precinct and Art & Information Centre is operated by volunteers, and is open Friday to Monday.