Historical Towns Directory

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Find Yarrawonga

The land that includes current-day Yarrawonga, and its twin town of Mulwala on the NSW side of the Murray River, was once occupied by the Pangerang Aboriginal people. Evidence of their inhabitance remains in the area today in canoe trees, which bear the scars where bark canoes were cut from their trunks and the man-made 'Boat Rock' catchment.

Yarrawonga Shire Hall, opened 1930 (courtesy Yarrawonga - Mulwala Historical Society Inc)

White settlement inevitably resulted in the demise of the area's traditional inhabitants. It is, however, believed that the name 'Yarrawonga' was derived from the Aboriginal 'yarra' (water running over rocks') and 'wonga' (describing the 'wonga pigeon').

The first white settler to take up land in the area was Elizabeth Hume, sister-in-law of explorer Hamilton Hume. Elizabeth had married Hamilton's brother, John Kennedy Hume, and was widowed when he was killed by bushrangers at Gunning, NSW, in January 1840. Hamilton assisted Elizabeth to take up the run, which was originally known as 'Yarroweya' (later Yarrawonga).

Yarrawonga - Mulwala bridge across the Murray River and lake Mulwala, opened 1924 (courtesy Yarrawonga - Mulwala Historical Society Inc)

Byramine (or Burramine) house was constructed on the property for Elizabeth at some point after she acquired the property. It has been commonly thought that the house was built in 1842 but it could have been constructed in the early 1850s when Elizabeth Hume moved to the property from Gunning. The Colonial Regency-style Byramine homestead remains today and has been classified by the National Trust (Vic) who describe it as being 'erected to plans prepared by an English architect for use in India and is constructed from bricks made on the site and from pine from the nearby forests. It is planned around a large central hall with octagon shaped principal rooms and is totally encircled by a verandah'. A townsite of four blocks was surveyed in 1868. Further surveys extending the town's boundaries were conducted in 1875 and 1886.

Yarrawonga developed to include a school (1876), four hotels, a number of stores, two banks, three churches, two flour mills and a newspaper by 1886.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Murphy St, Yarrawonga, opened 1905 (courtesy Yarrawonga - Mulwala Historical Society Inc)

The Yarrawonga Shire was created in 1878, covering 813 square miles. This area was reduced to 220 square miles by 1891, and remained such until council amalgamations in the 1990s.

In 1886 the first train from Melbourne reached Yarrawonga along the newly completed railway line. The railway provided an efficient means to transport produce from the area and the population of the town soon grew to more than 1,000 people.

Fallen Soldiers Monument, Yarrawonga, unveiled 1921 (courtesy Yarrawonga - Mulwala Historical Society Inc)

By 1891 six hotels were in operation and a second newspaper in print.

The Murray River had been crossed by punt services since 1850 but in 1891 these operations came to an end when the first bridge was constructed across the Murray. Work on the current-day concrete and steel bridge, which replaced the wooden original, began in 1917. The new bridge opened in 1924.

National Bank, Yarrawonga, opened c. 1883 and the Bank of Australasia, opened 1881 (courtesy Yarrawonga - Mulwala Historical Society Inc)

In the late 1880s/early 1890s Yarrawonga's courthouse was constructed. The single-storey solid red brick building is today classified by the National Trust (Vic).

The Yarrawonga Weir was constructed in 1938, leading to the formation of Lake Mulwala in 1939. This man-made lake stretches across 4,450 hectares and is dotted with the skeletons of trees that once formed part of a red gum forest. In addition to operating as an irrigation water storage facility the lake has also provided the twin towns with an important tourist attraction since this time.

Yarrawonga is located around 259 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. In 2001 its population was recorded as being 5,953 people.

Yarrawonga / Mulwala Historical Society Inc
Information: The Society aims to develop, research and exhibit the material culture of Yarrawonga and Mulwala in order to provide the greater community with the opportunity to experience and enjoy the heritage of Yarrawonga-Mulwala and their districts. Founded 1967. Open Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm every Sunday
President Phone: 03 5744 2759
Secretary Phone: 03 5744 1402
Contact: Mr William E. Church (President); Mrs Jacye L. Symes (Secretary

The Secretary, 8 Witt Street
Yarrawonga VIC 3730

Yarrawonga-Mulwala Pioneer Museum
Information: Housed in a spacious facility, the Museum feautures one of the most comprehensive exhibits of early pioneering days in Australia, including items such as flying machines, wool presses, bicycles, homewares and trinkets of yesteryear. Easter to Christmas opening hours are 1pm to 4.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday and on school and public holidays. From Christmas to Easter the Museum opens from 9.30am to 1pm Wednesday to Saturday, school and public holidays. The Museum is a Yarrawonga / Mulwala Historical Society project.
Phone: 03 5744 1402

151 Melbourne Street
Mulwala NSW 2647

Yarrawonga Mulwala Visitor Information Centre
Information: Open 7 days per week 9am 5pm. Closed Christmas Day.
Phone: 03 5744 1989; 1800 062 260
Fax: 03 5744 3149

Irvine Pde
Yarrawonga VIC 3730

Email: tourism@yarrawongamulwala.com.au
Website: http://www.yarrawongamulwala.com.au



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