Historical Towns Directory

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Find Koondrook

Koondrook is one of several Victorian Murray River towns with a New South Wales twin town.

The area is believed to have been occupied by the indigenous Wemba-Wemba people prior to white settlement.

Barham Koondrook Bridge. Opened in October 1904, this landmark lift-bridge is used by hundreds of vehicles daily (courtesy Barham-Koondrook Historical Society Inc)

The 'Barham' station was taken up in 1843 by Edward Green, who named it after the maiden name of his wife. The Gannawarra Station on the Murray's southern side was taken up by Archibald Campbell in 1844 on land between the future townsites of Koondrook and Cohuna.

The south bank of the Murray was settled by selectors towards the end of the Victorian gold rush.

During the 1870s Koondrook became a paddle steamer stopping point. Koondrook gained a school, along with the Koondrook Hotel, in 1880. The hotel was rebuilt in 1915 after the original was destroyed by fire.

Condidorio's Bridge, off Gunbower Parade, Koondrook. Recently rebuilt and correctly known as the Gunbower Island Bridge (courtesy Barham-Koondrook Historical Society Inc)

In 1882 a wharf was constructed. Two years later an Anglican Church was built in the town.

The nearby red gum forests provided the town with a valuable industry as railway lines were constructed and the timber was used for railway sleepers. The local timber was also used to build paddle steamers and boats, which were constructed in the town.

The Arbuthnot Sawmill was opened by Alexander (Sandy) Arbuthnot in the late 19th century and is still operating today, providing timber to commercial building and trade centres across Australia as well as supplying the local redgum furniture industry.

Koondrook Memorial Hall - Main Street, Koondrook. Opened in 1925 as a memorial to the 1914-18 War. Building still in use (courtesy Barham-Koondrook Historical Society Inc)

A shire-constructed tramway between Koondrook and Kerang was opened in 1889, with the line running down the main street of Koondrook. Today, former tram station buildings erected in 1925 remain in the centre of the main street.

In 1904 the Barham Koondrook Bridge was built across the river between the two towns. The lift-span bridge allowed for the passage of paddle steamers along the Murray, and was one of the last of its kind constructed in NSW, as the river trade era was at that time drawing to a close. The bridge also provided an important link between the two towns, which had previously been connected via a punt service across the river, which operated from 1884 to 1904. For many years the bridge linked NSW to the Victorian railhead at Koondrook.

Barham Koondrook Bridge is today listed by the National Trust (Vic), who describe it as a 'complex seven-span structure of timber, steel, iron and concrete, featuring a steel lift-span on an iron and concrete substructure, and two large De Burgh composite timber-steel through-truss spans (modifying the American Pratt pattern) one at either side of the main lift span'.

Koondrook Butter Factory. Original buildings destroyed by fire; rebuilt and now brick-clad and used as a private residence (courtesy Barham-Koondrook Historical Society Inc)

Condidorio's Bridge near Koondrook has also been classified by the National Trust. This timber bridge was constructed across Gunbower Creek to Gunbower Island in 1906. It is unique due to its square stringers on its timber crossheads with no corbels and also because of its humped design, which allows small boats to pass underneath. Originally built as a road bridge, Condidorio's has been recently rebuilt and is today open only to pedestrians.

Koondrook is today credited as the main production centre in Australia for quality redgum timber and furniture. Agriculture and tourism provide other local industries, with visitors attracted to the history of this Murray River town and scenery including the rich biodiversity of Gunbower Island.

Barham / Koondrook Historical Society Inc
Information: The Society (founded 1985) aims to research, collect and preserve all material relating to the pioneers, inhabitants and history of Koondrook, Victoria, and Barham, NSW, and surrounding districts. The Society also operates a museum in a single-room school building, relocated to Koondrook from Myall, Vic. Opening hours are 10.30am to 4pm Wednesdays or by appointment.
Publications: 'Border Journal'.
President Phone: 03 5453 1181
Secretary Phone: 03 5452 1831
Contact: Mr Allan Tompkins (President); Mrs Helen Campbell (Secretary)

Box 124
Koondrook VIC 3580

Email: Allan Tompkins - bkhs3580@dodo.com.au



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