ruins at Ebenezer Mission
Tiny town in the Wimmera which was once an
important Aboriginal mission.
Located 356 km north west of Melbourne and 22 km
north of Dimboola, Antwerp is hardly a township
at all. In reality it can hardly be called a
town. It is no more than a grain silo, a general
store and about six houses stuck out in the
middle of the Wimmera. The major interest in the
town lies in the Ebenezer Mission to Aborigines
which stands in ruins on the Dimboola side of
Before European settlement the area around
Antwerp was characterised by mallee scrub
(eucalypts), native pines, red gums and ti-tree.
The local Aborigines (probably known as the
Wotjoballuk) moved around the area relying on
the local river, named Wimmera by Major Mitchell
in 1836, for their water and living off the
local fauna and flora.
The first Europeans to settle the area were
George Shaw and Horatio Ellerman who arrived in
1846 and successfully applied for 130,000 acres
to graze some 10,000 sheep. It was Horatio
Ellerman who named his property 'Antwerp' after
the city in Belgium where he was born. It is
likely that Ellerman's son, Clarence Henry, who
was born in 1852 was the first European child
born in the Wimmera.
In 1858 two Moravian missionaries, the
Reverend Hagenauer and Reverend Spieseke,
arrived in Victoria to work among the
Aborigines. They decided that they were most
needed in the Wimmera and they chose a site
about 3 km south of Antwerp station on the
Wimmera River. By 1859 they had built a hut and,
during that year with the assistance of the
local Aborigines, they built a church. It was
consecrated in 1860. At that time a local
Aborigine named 'Pepper' was baptised - thus
becoming the first Christian Aborigine in the
By the late 1880s the town was thriving
because of the establishment of a large and
successful eucalyptus oil distillery. The oil
was extracted from the mallee by a company which
called itself the Eucalyptus Mallee Oil Company.
The oil was sold under the EMU brand name.
Antwerp was never a large town. The last
wedding in the Ebenezer Mission church occurred
as long ago as 1899 and the local school, which
finally closed in 1981, rarely had more than
20-30 students. When the school finally closed
it had only 12 students.
Things to see:
the Aborigines buried in the cemetery at
The Aboriginal Monument
The Aboriginal Monument can be located at the
cemetery on the Dimboola side of town. The
monument was established to the memory of the
Aborigines who were buried in the cemetery.
The Ebenezer Mission is about 1 km further
south. The graves at the ruins of the church are
particularly interesting. There are graves of
both Aborigines and Lutheran missionaries. The
missionaries had been born in such exotic places
as Bohemia and Prussia. It is well worth a
visit. It is located 2 km off the main road
between Jeparit and Dimboola.
Accommodation and Eating
There is no Accommodation and Eating in Antwerp.
See Dimboola for the closest facilities.