The Four Squatting Stations

The first white people to live in the Morwell area were the squatters of four cattle runs, their families and employees.

These four squatting stations were
  • Hazelwood, established in 1844
  • Maryvale, established in 1845
  • Merton Rush, established in 1846
  • Scrubby Forest, established in 1848
All four cattle stations were ranged along the Morwell River, three on the eastern side and Merton Rush on the western side.

Hazelwood Station had an area of 25 square miles. The first lease holders were Albert Eugene Brodribb and William Bennett, who had married Brodribb's sister, Lavinia Ann Hasell Brodribb. Hazelwood was named after Mrs. Hasell Bennett, and Maryvale was named after the Bennett's eldest daughter, Mary Bennett, then a little girl of ten. It is thought that Yinnar, which is an aboriginal word meaning "woman" was so-called because Hazel (Brodribb) Bennett was the first white woman to live in this area. The Bennetts, 1844-1860 were succeeded by John MacMillan. The MacMillan family held the Hazelwood estate until 1919, when it was acquired by the Government for Soldier Settlement.

Maryvale Station with a frontage of five miles along the Latrobe River, had an area of 35 square miles and included the present site of Morwell in its southern section. The fence separating it from Hazelwood was about two miles south of the present town. The first lease holder, 1845-1851 was Thomas Gorringe. The last lease holder, 1861-1872 was Coady-Buckley.

Merton Rush Station was the largest of the four stations - about 40 square miles. The first holder was Henry Scott who conducted a small accommodation house on the Narracan. The last holder was Samuel Vary, a prominent man in Morwell's History. He arrived at Merton Rush in 1870.

Scrubby Forest Station as its name implies, was pretty heavily wooded. Its southern section was quite mountainous, so its area of practical use was estimated as ten square miles. The first holders were Nicol Brown and Billy Hillier. Eventually they divided the station into two with Middle Creek being the line of division, Brown taking the western half and Hillier the eastern half. Billy's Creek was named after Billy Hillier. They held their leases from 1848 to 1868. The last lease holder of Scrubby Forest West was George Firmin who arrived in 1874.