Johnsonville is a town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia.
- Area:22.8 km2
- Elevation:32 m
- Local Government Area:East Gippsland Shire Council
Johnsonville is a town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia. It is located on the Princes Highway 18.9 km east from the city of Bairnsdale and 18.3 km west from the tourist resort and fishing port of Lakes Entrance. The town encompasses an area of approximately 5,617 hectares, 56 square kilometres or 13,879 acres.
Johnsonville forms one of the 224 cities, towns, villages and localities included within the scope of the East Gippsland Shire directive. The local member for the East Gippsland Region is Tim Bull. At the 2016 census, Johnsonville had a population of 327.
The original inhabitants of the land were the Indigenous Australians, in particular the Gunai people who inhabited the region as far east as the Snowy River. The township got its name from John Johnson, a man of Scandinavian origins, who purchased the nearby Swan Reach run in 1857 which also encompassed Johnsonville and surrounding areas. Johnson was a popular public figure of his time, serving three years as the member for Gippsland in the Legislative Assembly.He had previously owned Mewburn Park located near Maffra, which is incidentally linked to the famous Tichborne case. Arthur Orton had answered Johnson's advertisement early in 1855 calling for splitters, fence riders and stock-riders on his Mewburn Park station. Johnson's agents subsequently signed Aurthur up as a stockrider after he shipped out aboard Johnson's Eclipse from Van Diemen's Land.Previous to Johnson's claim upon the land Octavius Batten Sparkes occupied 16,000 acres and drove 4,000 sheep.Early settlers in the vicinity included the Howlett's, Dalhsens, Roadknight's and many others.
The onslaught of selection in the 1860s seen an end to the pastoral era and the aptly named ‘Squatter Kingdoms’. Fences were erected and small land owners took control. However, following the Victorian gold rush the Duffy Act in 1862 made small freehold selection possible. The selection of parts of the Swan Reach run which form the Johnsonville area took place around 1870.Deriving its name from the punts that used to operate along the river carrying supplies in the late 1800s and the early 20th century and leading from the Princes Highway, is Punt Road, which is the town's auxiliary byway that leads directly to the banks of the Tambo River. The road physically ends at the river but its name extends across the water and finishes where it intercepts Metung road. The first punt service along the river was established in 1877 by Frederick Smith and in 1886 was taken over by the Tambo Shire.Nearly two decades prior, on 13 April 1858, Malcolm Cambell made the first and historically significant crossing of the Lakes Entrance with the 70 tonne Georgiana Smith. Shortly afterwards he took the boat up the Tambo River.In 1864 another boat called the Lady Darling was constructed at McArdell's sawmills. It was a 245 tonne three mastered schooner and was launched on the Tambo River with the intention of it being sailed to Melbourne. Due to an inexperienced crew the vessel became beached and later rescued at substantial cost. The joint owners were John Inglis, storekeeper, and William Gutherie, a miller, both of North Gippsland. She was sold to John Hughes, of Williamstown, one year later and in 1873 to R.J. Jeffrey's, a merchant of Melbourne who sold her to a Brisbane owner three years later. She was wrecked in the New Hebrides in 1881.In the 1880s the traffic along the river increased, and in 1886 David Munro and Co. used timber barges to carry milled logs down from Upper Tambo to Johnsonville or, as it was known then, Lower Tambo. This small inland port formed one of five busy wharves along the length of the river.
Around the 1880s the areas main produce came in the form of farming and crops included wheat, oats, potatoes, barley, maize and hops. The Hop Kilns that serviced the area are still standing at Mossiface on the flats of the Tambo River and adjacent to the East Gippsland Rail Trail. The nearby township of Bruthen was the centre of one of Australia's leading tobacco growing areas with Charles Seehusen being the innovator of this crop.In 1878 a track was cleared from the Nicholson Punt to Foley's selection at Johnsonville, giving access Bairnsdale. That same year Henry Howlett commenced marking and clearing a road from Swan Reach to Lakes Entrance, but it wasn't until the early 1880s that locals in the area actually made use of it. Edward Foley set up coach service and also established the first mail run from Bairnsdale to Lakes entrance using Packhorses.Following on from the industrial activity the mid-1880s saw the township at Johnsonville established. Early maps show that the original location for the town was set to be about 1 mile west of its current location, but possibly owing to the fact to its having grown from the original river settlement down Punt Road, the township centred there.
In 1892 Johsonville saw the first congregational church established in the East Gippsland region. It has been assigned the Parish number 5400 by the Victorian Department of Crown Lands and Survey. The Johnsonville Post Office opened on 16 September 1886 with a Mr. John Smith as the postmaster.One of the first businesses to be founded was a large Coach building, Blacksmith and Wheelwright establishment owned by William Froud. In 1934 the Blacksmith business was converted to the general store with a bake house at the rear.
## War effort
Historical records show nine Anzacs that were born in Johnsonville and that served in the Australian Imperial Force. These include George Charles Batten, John Francis Batten, Frederick Elijah Burt, Jack Ledan Burt, Douglas William Hepburn, Charles Victor Kilmartin, James Leslie Smith, William Francis Stephenson and Frank Stanley Wills.
# Things to do