Officials confirmed the earthquake hit Mansfield town, nearly 200 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, at a depth of 10 km.
Calling it a disturbing and rare event, prime minister Scott Morrison said no casualties and serious injuries have been reported so far.
“It can be a very disturbing event, an earthquake of this nature. They are very rare events in Australia and as a result, I am sure people would have been quite distressed and disturbed,” Mr Morrison, currently in Washington, said.
“We have had no reports of serious injuries, or worse, and that is very good news and we hope that good news will continue,” he added.
Pictures shared online showed rubble of fallen bricks from a building in South Yarra, an inner Melbourne suburb, while no damage was reported from Mansfield, mayor Mark Holcombe said.
“I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before,” Mr Holcombe told ABC News.
“The other thing that surprised me was how noisy it was. It was a real rumbling like a big truck going past,” he added.
— Aleksander Onishchuk (@Brave_spirit81) September 22, 2021
A hospital lost power after the earthquake struck, said Victoria state deputy premier James Merlino.
One video showed the impact of the powerful earthquake on a newsroom, as the camera filming a news segment could be seen visibly shaking and the anchors attempting to find out about the tremor.
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) September 21, 2021
Another video, shared by a vintage lights showroom on Twitter, showed lights and a parked Jaguar shaking when the earthquake hit.
— Edison Light Globes (@PhilipG) September 22, 2021
This is the eighth such 5-plus magnitude quake to strike the region since 1973, according to the United States Geological Survey.
A damaging earthquake has struck SE Australia, centered outside Melbourne & felt in both the capital Canberra and largest city Sydney. While prone to moderate quakes, this is only the 8th M5+ quake in the region since 1973. For authoritative info see @vicsesnews & @GeoscienceAus https://t.co/5T2MqM1wou pic.twitter.com/5QrEFsPrpX
— USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) September 22, 2021
The impact of the earthquake was felt in the cities of Adelaide and Sydney as well, which are 800 km west and 878 km north of Melbourne, respectively.
The quake was said to be the largest to hit Australia since 2019, when a 6.6-magnitude quake was felt in the coastal town of Broome.
Aftershocks have been reported after this morning's earthquake. If an earthquake occurs, it's important that you know what to do: Drop, cover and hold on. For more information, visit our website: https://t.co/jNcE5i7xNy pic.twitter.com/VtSpAuxivT
— VICSES News (@vicsesnews) September 22, 2021
While aftershocks could follow, no tsunami threat has been issued yet for the Australian mainland, islands or territories, the country’s Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.