in the main street of Beulah
Small wheatbelt town
Today Beulah is a tiny town of 320 people,
located 382 km north west of Melbourne on the
Henty Highway. It is hard to imagine that there
was a time (around the turn of the century) when
the Beulah district produced 125,000 bags of
wheat each year and the local wool clip was
worth £25,000. This was a time when the local
general store, Cust & Sons, was huge and
prosperous, Gillespie & Co had a flour mill and
Franklin's Hotel was an elegant building.
The townsite stands on what was once Brim
sheep station. When the area was opened up for
closer settlement many selectors came from the
Wimmera district, including the McKenzies who
took up land just north of the present townsite
in 1882. Devout Presbyterians, they named the
township after a place-name in the Bible (Isaiah
The McKenzie land was subdivided in 1890, a
survey conducted and the town was officially
proclaimed in 1891. That year the local school
had a population of 50. The railway line was
extended from Warracknabeal in 1893 to the
benefit of local graziers. The following year,
the first edition of the Beulah Record and
Mallee Advocate was published.
Today there is little to see in Beulah but it
is worth visiting because time has stood still.
The shops in the main street, although many are
closed, are from another era and the sleepiness
is a reminder of what happens when the reasons
for a town's existence are slowly leached away.
Things to see:
The Ties That Bind
There is no doubt about it. The folks at Beulah
love their town. Ever since Walkabout drove
through the town and came to the conclusion that
it was dying there have been a number of locals
who wish to disagree with us. That is part of
the process. These are people who love the town
and care about the town. Draw your own
conclusion. We know that locals are often right.
Certainly they deserve to tell the world how
they feel about their tiny settlement.
As a result of this correspondence, Walkabout
has given some thought to the matter and revised
its opinion about the town 'dying', as, although
it has suffered attrition due to structural
changes, it seems apparent that an intense and
spirited sense of community will ensure the
survival of Beulah into the immediate future.
A local comments:
Hannah Coffey came across this entry and was a
little sad about what we had written. She wrote
an email which deserves to be included:
"I have just accessed the above site and read
your rundown on Beulah, Victoria. I was most
upset at what you had perceived as vital
information - that the town is from another era,
that it is dying. I grew up in Beulah, and only
moved away when I was 18. I do agree with you
that the town is not as large, bustling or
populated as what it was once purported to be.
However to say that it is dying really casts a
shadow over the life, the vitality and the
general feeling of the town and most
importantly, the very lively inhabitants. At
present, there are more young people living in
town and on the surrounding farms than people
say there have been in 20 years. The football,
cricket, netball and tennis teams are all always
near the top of their prospective ladders,
which, as you can imagine, is paramount in such
a small town. The pub is packed on a Saturday
night and there is always some activity, club or
mischief to join in on.
I know that I am defensive because it is my
home town, but I was most upset by the way you
peceived Beulah. I would like to suggest that
next time you are there, or in any other small
town, you head down to the local pub at night,
or even just take a walk down the main street
and actually converse with some of the town's
characters. They'll give you a lot of reasons to
believe that the town is alive and well and will
hopefully change your rather obvious opinion.
And may I just add that we are right up with
the current economic trends - Beulah is not
dying, it is just downsizing.
We at Walkabout love Beulah. Let's hope
someone reads this in 100 years time.
And another one
Like Hannah Coffey I was rather saddened to see
your perspective on a much loved town such as
Beulah. Unlike most of the small towns in the
area, Beulah is one which I would definitely say
is not dying.
Just recently we have enjoyed a number of
premierships in different sporting capacities
and our Bowls side has just been to the
Victorian Pennant Bowls final - to get there
they had to beat all sides from a large area,
which includes such larger towns as Horsham and
In our football club we are one of the few
small towns who still stand alone without
needing to join forces with neighbouring towns
and many of the young men who play there choose
to return to Beulah to play footy and be part of
the wonderful social and sporting culture that
is unique to Beulah.
Not only are our sporting clubs continually
enjoying much success in our region, unlike most
towns of similar size, Beulah has one of the
youngest populations with many young people
choosing to stay in the area to raise their
Our primary school may only have an average
of 50 students, but there are many towns in the
region that do not have their own school,
particularly not one of the quality of Beulah.
Travellers to Beulah would find Beulah Pub to
have a great welcoming atmosphere with no
shortage of people or entertainment - and the
best counter-meals around!
Yes, it may seem as though I am defending a
town because it is where I am from, but I am
very proud of the fact that I am from Beulah and
I am sure any resident who saw the web-site
would feel as strongly as both Hannah and myself
because it truly is a unique and wonderful place
to either visit or live.
Whilst I no longer live there, I do travel 4
hours back each weekend to play netball purely
because of how enjoyable it is to be a part of a
town like Beulah.
Just as a footnote, one of the "closed-down
shops" shown actually moved to larger premises
due to the need to expand the business - a ghost
town I think not!