Mortlake is a town in the Western District of Victoria, Australia on the Hamilton Highway, 50 kilometres (31 mi) north-east of Warrnambool. It is in the Shire of Moyne local government area and the federal Division of Wannon. At the 2001 census, Mortlake had a population of 941, rising to 996 in 2006, and to 1,073 in 2011.
Mortlake is situated at the foot of a dormant volcano, Mount Shadwell, formed 25,000 years ago. It is believed that it last erupted about 5,000 years ago. Self-proclaimed as the Olivine capital of Australia, large ejected rocks from Mt Shadwell are called volcanic bombs.
They are often egg shaped because they cooled as they were being thrown through the air. These bombs can contain olivine, a green crystal also known as peridot, the birthstone for August. The town is also known for its bluestone buildings, with several fine examples dating back to the 1850s visible from the Hamilton Highway.
he Mortlake area was probably first surveyed by Major Thomas Livingston Mitchell when he passed through the area in 1836–37. The town is based at the foot of a mount, as are many towns across the volcanic plains. The mount, Mount Shadwell, was named after his friend Major Thomas Henry Shadwell Clerke, and the nearby Hopkins River was named after Major John Paul Hopkins.
The first white settlers to arrive in Mortlake were probably David Fisher and his party in 1839, who set up a station which was left under the charge of Thomas Anderson. Establishment of Mortlake as a settlement occurred in the 1850s and 1860s. The Post Office opened 2 February 1859.
Many of the original bluestone buildings include those in the Shaw Street Bluestone Precinct, such as the former Mortlake courthouse and the former shire offices. The historic Mill (now privately owned) is located in Mill Street.
In the late 1870s, an area of swamp was drained and established as the Mortlake Botanical Gardens, which at its height covered nearly 50 acres (200,000 m2). As a present to the township in 1988 (Australia's Bicentennial) a new lake was constructed by the State Government.
This lake is now known as Tea Tree Lake.
There are two schools in Mortlake, both co-educational. The largest school is the government school Mortlake P-12 College, with approximately 300 students ranging from Prep to Year 12. There is also a Catholic primary school, St. Colmans, with around 30 students. There is also a Kindergarten.
Mortlake is located between two major agricultural districts: Hamilton to the north-west for the wool industry, and to the south-east, the dairy industry. Farms in the area exploit the rich volcanic soil for both farming practices.
One of the town's most famous industries, Clarke's Pies, which made pies for distribution all over Victoria, announced in January 2007 that the company had been sold to Patties Foods and that production would cease in early March 2007, leaving around 50 people out of work. Clarke's regularly featured in the top 10% of pie-makers in Australia. As of April 2007, Clarke's have begun producing the original square pie, on a smaller scale, and delivering within the local area. In 2008 it was announced that an export boning room would commence production mid-year in the premises of the old Clarke's Pies factory. It was planned to employ up to 100 employees with specialised skills.
On 4 July 2008, the Origin Energy Board announced it would construct a $640 million 550 megaWatt (MW) gas-fired power station located 12 km west of Mortlake. The power station is being constructed on approximately 20 hectares of land with an extensive buffer zone around it. Although approvals have been gained for approximately 1,000 MW, the Mortlake Power Station will be built in two stages adjacent to the existing Moorabool to Heywood 500 kV high voltage transmission line. The plant will be supplied with natural gas via an 83 km dedicated underground natural gas transmission pipeline from the new gas processing plant being built near Port Campbell, as part of the offshore Otway Gas Project.
During construction up to 400 jobs will be created and when finished it is anticipated that about 30 employees will run and maintain the station. The power station was completed in 2012.
In 2017 construction of the Mortlake windfarm consisting of 51 AW1500 1.5MW turbines is set to commence. The A$200m project will generate significant economic activity in the Moyne Shire and surrounds- including over 80-100 construction jobs and 5-10 full time operational positions.
By the end of 2017 the new Mortlake Saleyards are scheduled to have been constructed. The $15 million project is expected to handle the sale of 200,000–250,000 cattle per year.
Mortlake has a range of community, service and sporting groups and activities. There are Rotary, Lions, Apex, RSL, CWA, Red Cross, Freemasons and Probus clubs, as well as the Mortlake & District Historical Society, the Gardening Club, with its annual rose show, and the Mortlake Visual Arts Group who host the annual Mortlake art show in June (www.mortlakeartshow.com.au). Sporting clubs include bowls, swimming, tennis, squash and badminton, as well as a skate park.
Young people can also join the Moyne Shire Youth Council to promote youth and community activities. The students and staff at Mortlake P-12 College run a yearly drama production and in previous years they have produced 'Grease', 'Cats', 'Les Misérables', 'Oklahoma', 'Pirates of Penzance' and 'Beauty and the Beast'.
Mortlake also fields three Australian rules football teams - the Terang-Mortlake Football Club in the Hampden Football Netball League, the Woorndoo-Mortlake Football Club in the Mininera & District Football League and Netball Association and the Deakin Uni Football club, which in 2008 fielded junior football and netball teams in the Warnambool and District League. Lewis Taylor, winner of the 2014 AFL Rising Star award is from Mortlake.
Mortlake originally fielded the Mortlake Football Club, who went into recess and merged with Derrinallum for the 1999 season to become the Western Lions in the Hampden league. The Western Lions went into recess in 2000. The original Mortlake Football Club then amalgamated with the Terang Football Club in the Hampden Football Netball League and the Woorndoo Football Club in the Mininera & District Football League in 2001, to field two separate teams.
Mortlake has both football and cricket facilities at the D.C. Farren Oval, which also contains 10 courts for netball and tennis.
Golfers play at the course of the Mortlake Golf Club on Hopetoun Street.