A brief history of Mildura and places to visit

Mildura is a city in the Sunraysia region of north-west Victoria, Australia. It is located on the banks of the Murray River, about 530 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. The city has a population of about 78,000 people.

Mildura was first settled by Aboriginal people for thousands of years before European arrival. The first European to visit the area was explorer Hamilton Hume in 1829. In 1847, pastoralist Frank Jenkin took up land in the area and named it Irymple. The name Mildura was adopted in 1858.

In 1886, Canadian-American irrigation engineers George and William Chaffey arrived in Mildura and established an irrigation colony. The Chaffeys’ irrigation scheme was a success, and Mildura quickly became a major agricultural and horticultural centre. The city also became a popular tourist destination, known for its mild climate, lush gardens, and wineries.

Mildura has a rich history and culture, and there are many historical places to visit in the city. Here are a few suggestions:

Historical Places to Visit in Mildura

  • Mildura Arts Centre and Rio Vista Homestead: This complex houses an art gallery, a theatre, and a historic homestead. The homestead was built in 1889 by the Chaffey brothers, who were responsible for irrigating the Mildura region.
    Mildura Arts Centre and Rio Vista Homestead in Mildura

  • Kow Plains Homestead: This homestead was built in 1866 and is one of the oldest buildings in the Mildura region. It is now a museum that tells the story of the early settlers of the area.
    Kow Plains Homestead in Mildura

  • Lock 11: This lock was built in 1907 and is one of the most important structures in the Mildura irrigation system. It controls the flow of water from the Murray River into the Mildura system.
    Lock 11 in Mildura

  • Mildura Visitor Information Centre: This center is a great place to start your exploration of Mildura. It has exhibits on the history of the city and the region, and staff can help you plan your itinerary.
    Mildura Visitor Information Centre in Mildura

  • Mildura Botanical Gardens: These gardens are home to a wide variety of plants from around the world. They are a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
    Mildura Botanical Gardens in Mildura

  • The Langtree Hall Museum: This museum tells the story of the Sunraysia region, from its Aboriginal heritage to its modern-day wine industry.
    The Langtree Hall Museum in Mildura

  • Mildura Holden Motor Museum: The museum houses a magnificent display of 30 to 35 Holden vehicles, starting from the first model made to current models.
    Mildura Holden Motor Museum


A brief history of Echuca/Moama

Echuca and Moama are twin towns located on either side of the Murray River in Victoria, Australia, and New South Wales, Australia, respectively. Here is a brief history of Echuca/Moama along with some references for further reading:

  1. Indigenous History: The area around Echuca and Moama has a rich indigenous history, with the Yorta Yorta and Barapa Barapa peoples being the traditional custodians of the land for thousands of years. They had a deep connection to the Murray River and the surrounding environment.
  2. European Settlement: European settlement in the Echuca/Moama area began in the early 1800s when explorers and pastoralists arrived. Echuca itself was established as a settlement in 1854, initially known as Hopwood’s Ferry. The town of Moama, located across the river, was established soon after.
  3. Paddle Steamers and River Trade: In the mid-19th century, Echuca and Moama became major inland ports and trading centers due to the rise of paddle steamers. These steam-powered boats transported goods and passengers along the Murray River, connecting the towns with other towns and cities in the region. Echuca and Moama played a significant role in the river trade, particularly in the transportation of wool, timber, and agricultural products.
  4. Wharf and Railway Development: The Echuca Wharf, constructed in 1865, became a bustling hub of activity, with paddle steamers docking to load and unload goods. The arrival of the railway in Echuca in 1864 further boosted the town’s importance as transport and trade hubs.
  5. Decline and Revitalization: With the advent of railroads and the decline of paddle steamers, Echuca and Moama’s significance as river ports diminished in the early 20th century. The ports fell into disuse, and the towns experienced a period of economic decline. However, in the 1970s, the historical value of Echuca and Moama was recognized, and efforts were made to preserve and restore the towns’ heritage buildings and paddle steamers, leading to a revitalization of tourism in the area.

For more detailed information about the history of Echuca and Moama, you can refer to the following references:

  1. “Echuca-Moama – Historical Overview” – Murray River Paddlesteamers: Provides a concise overview of the history of Echuca and Moama, including the paddle steamer era. Available at: https://www.murrayriverpaddlesteamers.com.au/
  2. “Echuca” – Visit Victoria: Offers a brief history of Echuca, highlighting its role as a river port and its heritage significance. Available at: https://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/the-murray/destinations/echuca-moama/
  3. “Moama” – Visit NSW: Provides information on the history of Moama, including its early European settlement and river trade. Available at: https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/the-murray/echuca-moama

Please note that the availability and content of external websites may change over time.

A brief history of Griffith

Located in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales, Australia. Griffith is known for its significant role in the development of the Australian wine industry. Here is an overview of the history of Griffith:

  1. Irrigation Settlement: The history of Griffith dates back to the early 20th century when the area was selected as a site for irrigation development. The Australian government established the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area in 1912 to support agricultural settlement and increase food production.
  2. Italian Influence: Griffith has a strong Italian heritage that dates back to its early days. Italian immigrants, mostly from the Sicilian region, played a pivotal role in the development of the area. They brought their agricultural knowledge and expertise, particularly in vine cultivation and winemaking.
  3. Town Establishment: Griffith was officially established in 1916 and named after Sir Arthur Griffith, the first New South Wales minister of Public Works. The town’s layout was based on a radial design, which provided equal access to services and facilities for all residents.
  4. Wine Industry: The introduction of irrigation in the region was a turning point for the establishment of vineyards and the wine industry in Griffith. Italian settlers, along with other farmers, began cultivating grapes and producing wine. Griffith quickly became a major centre for wine production and played a significant role in the growth of the Australian wine industry.
  5. World War II Internment Camp: During World War II, Griffith was the site of an internment camp for Italian and Japanese civilians and prisoners of war. The camp, known as the Hay Internment Camp No. 7, housed thousands of internees between 1941 and 1946.
  6. Post-War Growth: After World War II, Griffith experienced rapid growth as migrants, including Italians, Greeks, and Yugoslavs, settled in the area. They contributed to the expansion of the agricultural sector, particularly in the cultivation of grapes, citrus fruits, and vegetables.
  7. Diversification and Cultural Mosaic: Over the years, Griffith has diversified its agricultural activities beyond wine production. It has become known for its production of citrus fruits, olives, rice, and various other crops. The city is also renowned for its multicultural community, with a rich tapestry of cultural influences, including Italian, Greek, Lebanese, and Indigenous Australian heritage.

Today, Griffith remains a thriving regional centre with a strong agricultural base and a growing reputation as a wine destination. Its history, heritage, and multicultural influences contribute to the vibrant and diverse character of the city.


  1. Visit Griffith: https://www.visitgriffith.com.au/
  2. Griffith City Council – History: https://www.griffith.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-NEP-55-25-20
  3. Griffith – Our History: https://www.griffith.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/page.asp?p=DOC-NEP-30-32-02
  4. Australian Wine Research Institute: https://www.awri.com.au/industry_support/winemaking_resources/history/

A brief history of Lightning Ridge

The history of Lightning Ridge in New South Wales, Australia, is characterized by the discovery of opals, the development of an opal mining industry, and the growth of a unique and multicultural community. Here is an overview of the history of Lightning Ridge:

  1. Indigenous History: The Lightning Ridge area has a rich indigenous history, with the Ngemba and Yuwaalaraay peoples being the traditional custodians of the land for thousands of years. They had a deep connection to the land and its resources.
  2. European Settlement: European exploration and settlement in the area began in the late 19th century. The first European to explore the region was George Hardwicke, who arrived in the late 1860s. Pastoralists followed, seeking land for grazing their livestock.
  3. Opal Discovery: Lightning Ridge became known for its opals following the discovery of precious opal in 1902. Charles Nettleton, a boundary rider, found opal on the Malaluka property. This discovery led to a rush of miners, and the opal mining industry began to develop.
  4. Town Establishment: The Lightning Ridge township was officially established in 1905, initially named “Hungry Hill.” It was later renamed Lightning Ridge due to the frequent lightning strikes in the area. The town quickly grew as miners and settlers arrived, attracted by the opal boom.
  5. Challenges and Growth: Lightning Ridge faced several challenges in its early years. Water scarcity was a significant issue, leading to the establishment of water boreholes and artesian wells. The harsh living conditions, including extreme temperatures and isolation, made life difficult for the early residents. Despite these challenges, the opal industry continued to thrive, attracting miners from around the world.
  6. Multicultural Community: Lightning Ridge has a unique multicultural character due to its diverse population. People from various backgrounds and nationalities, including Europeans, Indigenous Australians, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, settled in the area to participate in the opal industry. This diverse mix of cultures has shaped the town’s vibrant and inclusive community.
  7. Opal Mining Heritage: Lightning Ridge is renowned for producing black opals, which are highly valued for their vibrant play-of-colour. The town’s opal mining heritage is preserved and celebrated, with many mining-related attractions, museums, and festivals showcasing the history and significance of opal mining in the region.

Today, Lightning Ridge continues to be a significant opal mining town, attracting tourists, artists, and opal enthusiasts from around the world. Its unique cultural heritage, natural beauty, and allure of precious opals contribute to its ongoing popularity.


  1. Lightning Ridge Opal Festival: https://www.lightningridgeopalfestival.com.au/
  2. Australian Opal Centre: https://australianopalcentre.com/
  3. Visit NSW – Lightning Ridge: https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/outback-nsw/lightning-ridge-area/lightning-ridge
  4. Lightning Ridge Information: https://www.lightningridgeinfo.com.au/

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The Como Bus Service

There are few of us for whom buses were not part of our youthful transport. Sydney’s Sutherland Shire had several omnibus fleets but it is unlikely any of them had a motley collection of people movers like the Como Bus Service, which served Oyster Bay, Jannali and Como.

The picture above (taken by the firm’s owner at the time, Ted Coleman) depicts their depot at Jannali, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Georges River Road. The Colemans seemingly operated on the proverbial `smell of an oily rag’, there were no flash new buses in their fleet back in the day, and it seems likely Government subsidies were not splashed around as they were in later years. They had little choice but to buy worn-out old buses and rebuild them in their cramped workshop. As a result, no two were quite alike, although two of their most iconic models still in service in the 1950s and 60s, Reo Speedwagons, were similar in appearance. These classics, an example of which is seen at far left, were based on a pre-WW2 truck chassis that was imported into Australia from the USA in reasonable numbers. The coach bodies were often built by Waddingtons at Camperdown.

One could write reams about the drivers, characters and incidents attached to the folklore of Como buses, which bore destination rolls for such places as Caravan Head or The Bonnet. The latter, for a time, operated from the western side of the original Como railway station, at the bottom of Como Parade, a steep descent. The short wheelbase Reo had to turn around on a narrow embankment. This involved poking its rump into thin air over a steep drop-away several times during a multi-point turn, it was frightening to watch.

One time the old Reo was loaded to the gunnels climbing steep Mitchell Avenue Jannali and she cried enough halfway up. The driver instructed all the youngsters to disembark and walk up the hill, leaving just the old ladies on board. At the top of the hill, the Reo turned right into Soldiers Road and pulled up, we young-uns climbed back aboard and off to Como West we went. It seems ironic that three of the Shire’s hilliest suburbs had its quirkiest collection of buses, but incidents like this were nothing exceptional for the workshop magicians who kept the old bangers going for the Como Bus Service.