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(3915, 57 km S, Mornington Peninsula Shire)

Hastings is situated on the western side of the Mornington Peninsula, on the shores of Westernport Bay. In 1845 Martha Jane King took up Bunguyan or King's Creek cattle station in the vicinity, and for some time the little settlement was known as King's Creek. The name Hastings was first used around 1860 and is thought to have been derived either from a town in Sussex, England, or after Warren Hastings, a Governor-General of India.

In the early 1840s a handful of fishermen working Western Port (as it was then spelt) were based here. A jetty was constructed in 1864 and commercial fishing remained a major local industry until industrial development occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Recreational fishing still takes place here. From the 1860s when rural land was offered for sale by selection, orchards were established. A government township named Tyabb was reserved to the north of the fishing hamlet in 1858. This did not flourish and was eventually incorporated into Hastings township.

In the 1880s the Victorian Government feared that Western Port was vulnerable to foreign invasion. The Minister of Defence proposed a railway line from Frankston to Stony Point at Western Port so that troops could be moved rapidly to the area if need be. Thus Hastings gained a valuable rail link to the metropolis in 1889, and the establishment of a naval base, HMAS Cerberus, at nearby Crib Point in 1920 provided some work for local people. Nevertheless, the population remained relatively small until the 1960s when the Parliament of Victoria passed the Westernport (Oil Refinery) Act, 1963, allowing BP Australia to build an oil refinery at Crib Point. Westernport's deep water rendered it suitable for the berthing of large tankers bringing oil from Bass Strait. Two more Acts, passed in 1967 and 1970 by the government of Henry Bolte, aimed at making the Hastings area the 'Ruhr of Victoria'. Esso established a refinery in 1967 and BHP constructed Victoria's main centre for steel production in 1970. Australia's first regional planning authority, Western-port Regional Planning Authority, was established in 1969 to direct the development of the port industrial area. It was replaced in 1986 by the Westernport Regional Planning and Coordination Committee, since disbanded.

However, the proposed industrial development aroused concern in many quarters, particularly among conservationists who formed a Save Westernport Coalition. Eventually heavy industry was confined to 6880 ha and fears of unfettered industrialisation and population growth at Hastings did not materialise.

Jill Barnard