|Population 4,750 (2011 census)|
State electorate(s) Morwell
Postal code 3842
Federal division Division of McMillan
LGA(s) City of Latrobe
Local time Friday 11:09 PM
|Location 160 km (99 mi) from Melbourne
11 km (7 mi) from Morwell|
Weather 19°C, Wind E at 16 km/h, 80% Humidity
University Federation University Australia, Gippsland campus
Churchill is a town in the Latrobe Valley, located in central Gippsland in the east of Victoria, Australia. The town had a population of 4,750 at the 2011 census, and is part of the Latrobe City local government area. The town was named in honour of former British leader Sir Winston Churchill.
Map of Churchill VIC 3842, Australia
Churchill was formerly known as Hazelwood, Victoria and began as a service centre for the Hazelwood Power Station and future replacement for Yallourn and Morwell townships. The site was chosen for its pleasant location at the foot of the Strzelecki Ranges, overlooking Hazelwood pondage. It was relatively free from air pollution, is not above rich coalfields and is in close proximity to the larger towns and power stations in the Latrobe Valley.
Construction of Churchill began in 1965. In that year the first two houses in Churchill were completed and occupied by the Arch and Ayers families who received morning paper deliveries from Yinnar General Store, and milk delivery from John Koedijk. Within a week five more families arrived and so the town began to grow street by street. The town was sufficiently advanced for the Post Office to open on 11 April 1966. The shopping centre in Churchill was officially opened on July 1967, the first two shops (butcher and pharmacy) having opened 19 May 1967. In that year many new traders opened for business. All the shop keepers were offered a commission house in Churchill for their use. The Churchill Newsagency opened in 1967 and was run by Ian and Winifred Jones who had previously run the Yinnar General Store. A Tattersalls agency was established in 1975. The Churchill Newsagency business was later purchased in April 1978 by Jack and Olive Robson
The town was planned with a well-defined commercial centre, expansive parklands, a mix of government and privately owned quarter-acre (1,000 m²) town blocks and light industrial estates spaced from residential areas by a belt of parkland. The transport system was to be a network of restricted-access highways and a ring road fully encircling the town. Population was anticipated to reach 6,000 by 1971, rising to around 40,000 by 2000. However, the discovery of offshore gas in Bass Strait resulted in the closure of the Lurgi plant to the town's north, and the SEC's development in the region slowed. This, combined with the slow development of services in the town and prohibitive residential sales conditions meant that the Churchill project would never be fully realised. Population peaked at a modest 5500 in the early 1990s before a small decline. Signs of renewed growth have appeared, with several new housing estates being released during the past decade.
The town's retail precinct was redeveloped in the late noughties, with the Richies IGA supermarket expanded, and a new mall constructed to replace the aging West Place mall (constructed in the late 1960s) containing a new Woolworths supermarket, KFC outlet and other shops. After closing in 2006 the hotel was remodeled and reopened in January 2011.
In 2009 Churchill also suffered the shock of the Black Saturday bush fires. Lit deliberately on Glendonald Rd, these fires burnt the surrounding hills of Churchill through to Yarram and killed 11 people.
The area now known as Churchill was originally named Hazelwood, but was renamed after Sir Winston Churchill's death. The change of name has not been without its critics, and residents who pushed hard to restore the Hazelwood name were finally heard in 1989, when the town was asked to vote on whether the town would be renamed to Hazelwood or stay as Churchill. The name Churchill won by narrow vote.
Some of the names in Churchill have a distinctly local flavour. Estates in the town were named after various early settlers. These include Silcock, Medew, McMillan, Glendonald, and Northways. Roads have also been named after people (such as McDonald, Canterbury, Philip, and Manning), flora (Acacia, Hawthorn, Blackwood and Birch), and Aboriginal names (Amaroo, Gundaroo).
Churchill has several education facilities. There are several primary schools within the town, as well as the Churchill and Precinct campuses of Kurnai College.