East Loddon was a shire in the County of Bendigo. It was named after the Loddon River, itself named by Major Mitchell in 1836 after the Loddon River in Berkshire, England. Mitchell was the first European in the area. He viewed the Loddon River plains in 1836 during his Australia Felix expedition. In 1843 the entire area was tied up in four large holdings, of which 'Serpentine' was the largest. They were used for the grazing of sheep and the only occupants were shepherds, station hands and overseers. However, the Victorian Land Act of 1862 saw the large holdings broken up and grazing replaced by wheat farming.
Centres of trade and business began to develop in the area, and Serpentine emerged on Serpentine Creek, an offshoot of the Loddon River. It grew up around a post office, established in 1848, a bullock driver's camp and a changing place for a coaching company. Burke and Wills and King are thought to have passed the townsite in 1860 on their expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The first allotment of the townsite of Serpentine was granted in 1863, when the town consisted of an inn, Cobb & Co stables, a log cabin and a bark hut. The area benefited from through traffic since it was located on a major stock route connecting the Riverina of New South Wales, the Western District of Victoria, and the markets of southern Victoria. The town was surveyed in 1866 and land sales proceeded in 1867.
The road district of East Loddon was created on 28 December 1864, and a hall was constructed at Serpentine as a meeting place in 1867-68. The hall also served as a centre for social activities and a meeting place for Presbyterians, Anglicans and, briefly, for Catholics. Serpentine therefore became the administrative centre of the East Loddon Shire.
In 1865 Hugh Victor McKay was born at nearby Raywood. McKay was the inventor of the Sunshine Harvester which, in 1885, became the first harvester to enter commercial production.
The Shire of East Loddon was proclaimed on 28 July 1871.
The Shire enjoyed a plentiful supply of water, and supply channels were established in the early 1880s, the earliest water supply system in Victoria. Later they became the basis for an extensive irrigation system.
In 1897 the Shire was one of many to issue a medal to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria (NU 20467). At that time Mr. J. B. McCrea was Shire President and Mr. S. C. Jones was Shire Secretary.
On 27 August 1920 the Aerial Derby started at Serpentine, recognised as Australia's first official air race.
Blake, L. (1977). Place Names of Victoria.
Walkabout Australian Travel Guide, Fairfex F2 website http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/VICSerpentine.shtml, accessed 25/11/2003.