Benambra is a small town located 22km north-east of Omeo and 437km east of the state capital Melbourne, in the Australian Alps of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. Other nearby towns include Swifts Creek, Ensay, and the major town of Bairnsdale.
In line with most small country towns the population of Benambra has been in gradual decline over recent years. The town itself has always been relatively small in terms of facilities, in line with its population and the relatively short distance and easy access to nearby Omeo.
Into relatively recent times Benambra supported a primary school, a number of sporting teams and other facilities, including a traditional country pub, the charming Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church erected in 1905, a community hall, a ‘neighbourhood house’, a police station, and a number of small commercial outlets, such as a general store, bank and garage. Many of these facilities continue to this day in some form.
Benambra town centre is at the intersection of Gibbo St and Limestone Rd, at an altitude of approximately 700m. The town has a population of around 150, although most residents live on farms and properties out of the actual town.
From its early days Benambra has been regarded as a premier agricultural area, specialising in both sheep and cattle farming. The annual weaner calf sales, held in March, attract buyers from across Australia who are seeking high quality predominantly Hereford and Hereford Shorthorn Cross calves on offer. Merino sheep are raised for wool, and there is a small amount of cropping in the area.
The timber industry employs a small number of people in harvesting, handling and transportation of the logs to mills in other areas. Mining was once also a significant employer in the area, but only occasional forays are currently conducted.
For the tourist, the area offers beautiful mountain scenery, crystal clear trout fishing streams, and an assortment of picturesque bush walking trails, including those of the Alpine National Park.
The town of Benambra is on the shores of Lake Omeo which can also serve as a tourist attraction, however this lake only irregularly holds water at present. During wetter times a pier and public toilets were built at the top end of the lake furthest from the town where the lake is at its maximum depth. The depth varies when full from about 3m at the top end to about 1m at the town end, where the lake will flood across the sealed road. When holding sufficient water, the lake has hosted sailing, and, later, speed boat races; the last speed boat races were held on Australia Day in January, 1975.