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Gippsland's naming day

March 12 is the day Gippsland got its name!

Written by Susan Webster.

March 12 is the day it is thought Gippsland was first officially named.

In 1840, adventurer Count Paul Strzelecki led an exploration party south from the Monaro. On March 12 he climbed Mt Kosciusko, looked at the wooded country to the south and named it in honour of the then-NSW governor George Gipps.

The rest of the journey southwards was through almost-impenetrable scrub. About 20km past Moe the horses had to be abandoned and the party struggled on foot, crossing rivers and forcing a path through the thick bush. Food became as scarce as dry fuel. They survived by eating row koalas until they stumbled out onto the shores of Western Port on May 12.

Gippslanders should celebrate March 12 by eating something local … other than raw koala.

They can also let rip with the Gippsland March, a piece composed by Glasgow-born Alex Lithgow, a popular brass band composer of the early 1900s. He moved to Australia when he was six, living in Launceston for most of his adult life. Click the video clip above for one version of it.

The lyrics (below) come off a piano roll found in a farmhouse in Lindenow, East Gippsland by Michael Freshwater. A proud fifth-generation Gippslander.

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Photo by TripAdvisor: The Count Paul Strzelecki Monument on the Princes Highway, Traralgon.


The Gippsland March lyrics

Where the mighty mountains

Lift their crags to the sky,

Where the stream goes laughing by-y-y

Where the woodman plies

His axe with true might, his swing

Through the forest echoes ring.

Where the kookaburra laughs

And greets you with glee

There, I long to be.

My heart enthralled

With those sweet days recalled.

In dear old Gippsland

Home of mine!

Each memory fills

My soul with sweet pain,

And calls to me

Seems to beckon again.

For upon this wide, wide earth

There is no other spot can take the pride

I hold for my land of birth.

Always haunting, calling me.

Oh, how I love that dear old Gippsland, home of mine.

Oh - Gippsland mine

You are a place to me divine.

With treasures rare

Of Nature's gifts beyond compare.

Oh - Gippsland mine

My heart cannot resist your call.

Soon I'll be heading to you

My Gippsland, sweet home of mine.