Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Ensay VIC


Postcode: 3895

Ensay is a small town located between Swifts Creek and Bruthen on the Great Alpine Road in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. Ensay is 80km north of the major town of Bairnsdale and 366km east of the state capital Melbourne. Other nearby towns include Omeo and Benambra.

The town centre is located just north of the confluence of the Little River and the Tambo River at an altitude of approximately 400m. The official population is 250, although most residents live on farms and properties out of the actual town.

The Aboriginal name for the area around Ensay was Numblamunjie, which translates as ‘blackfish place’. Archibald Macleod (see Bairnsdale, History) set up a station in this area in 1843. He named it after the now unpopulated island of Ensay in the Outer Hebrides of his homeland of Scotland. Ensay is a Gaelic translation for Jesus.

The land around Ensay was originally taken up in 1839 by the noted explorer of the district Angus McMillan on behalf of his then employer Lachlan Macalister. This was abandoned shortly afterwards in 1841 with the settlement of large areas of land in the more central parts of Gippsland.

The original Ensay Station covered an enormous 38,400 acres, which took in most of the Ensay district up to Swifts Creek, where it abutted the Tongio Station. Some areas very near Ensay, such as Reedy Flat, were outside the Ensay Station boundaries and were not occupied by European settlers until the 1870s.

Ensay Station was progressively split up into smaller farms over the years. Notably the area became a site for soldier settlers following World War I, as returned servicemen looking for employment were allocated areas of land to farm by the government. Agricultural use of the land around Ensay remains chiefly for the raising of cattle and sheep.