Boolarra is a small township located in the Latrobe Valley, in central Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. The name Boolarra is believed to be derived from an expression in one of the local Aboriginal languages meaning ‘plentiful’ or ‘twenty’.
The town is at one end of the Mirboo North – Boolarra Rail Trail, which travels for 13 kilometres through temperate rainforest and dry sclerophyll forest in the Strzelecki Ranges. The original railway branch line from Morwell to Boolarra, was opened on 10 April 1885, with the last train being run on 22 June 1974. The railway was constructed through difficult hilly terrain requiring construction of massive embankments and numerous bridges.
Boolarra suffered a setback in 1937 when a hotel and many shops in the main street burned down. Population declined until the 1970s, as in most country towns. Improvements in farming technology required fewer workers and there was a general drift of population to the cities.
However from the 1970s, people have been attracted back to the area by the rural lifestyle. There has been substantial residential building and subdivision of small farmlets and small properties in the hills overlooking the town. In 1986, the population was 589 and by 1991 was 607. This has produced little increase in business and services because with modern cars and better roads people use the larger provincial centre. But there has been an increase in local community activities such as service clubs and sporting and social organisations. For example, the community organised the removal of a building from Yallourn to house an infant welfare service, playgroup and other community groups. A community newspaper was started in 1982.
Dairying is still an important industry, although the butter factory closed in the late 1950s. Milk was taken to Yinnar until that factory was taken over by a large company in 1974. The last cattle sale was held in 1982. A fish farm was started in the 1950s. It now has thirty to forty acres of ponds and breeds five different species of goldfish, sending them all over Australia.