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It hit about 9:00pm (AEST), with the epicentre near Moe in west Gippsland, about 120 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.

Geoscience Australia says the 5.3 quake had a depth of about 10km and rumbled through Melbourne and communities including Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Shepparton.

People have reported hearing a roaring noise, with reports of cracks occurring in the walls and floors of homes.

Victoria Police say they have received a number of calls in relation to the tremor.

They say they have not received any reports of major damage.

The Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) says they have received 40 requests for assistance in the broader Gippsland area and parts of Melbourne, but no reports of significant damage.

The SES's Lachlan Quick says most of the request of assistance have come from areas near the epicentre.

"Most of those look like minor house damage. Cracked walls, cracked ceilings, I believe I've had one garage collapse," he said.

"We've also had some incidences of gas leaks which are a bit of a concern and we've urged people on those situations to vacate the premises until those situations have been rectified," he said.

Seismologist David Jepsen says there have been some aftershocks of around magnitude 3.5 near the epicentre.

He says the initial quake was close to the earth's surface.

"[It was a] shallow earthquake. That's why people felt it so strongly," he said.

"You do get the rolling because you get the surface waves that get generated that people can feel quite strongly."

Houses 'vibrating'

Some Melbourne residents have reported seeing windows shaking during the tremor.

Graham Miller, a resident in Heathmont in Melbourne's east, says it was the biggest earthquake he has ever felt.

"The most severe earthquake that I would say we've experienced at Heathmont in 60 years to my knowledge," he said.

"The shaking continued for about 45 seconds, and my whole house was vibrating visibly."

Shannon Starab McGill, a resident in Badger Creek, north-east of Melbourne, also felt the quake.

"Shook the heck out of the house and the kids woke up quite startled! Yikes!" he wrote on Facebook.

Professor Mike Sandiford of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne says it is an unusual event.

"It was a significant shaking event. We don't often get earthquakes which shake much of Melbourne," he said.

"Every few years we have an earthquake which tends to be to the south east of Melbourne in Gippsland which impacts the eastern suburbs.

"Shaking the eastern suburbs and even more rarely gets to the city centre."