Cobram (including Koonoomoo)
Substantial town on the Murray River
The Murray River forms a substantial part of the
border of Victoria and New South Wales. It also
separates the NSW town of Barooga from Cobram
which is located 244 km north of Melbourne on
the Murray Valley Highway and 113 metres above
sea-level. The population is currently about
This is irrigated fruit and dairying country,
hence the appellation 'Peaches and Cream
Country' . In reality it is quite a diverse
agricultural district which produces citrus
fruits, vegetables, wheat, oats, barley,
sunflowers, wool and beef cattle. Cobram also
has an industrial section.
The area is thought to have been occupied by
the Bangarang Aborigines prior to white
settlement. Charles Sturt explored the Murray
downstream of the present townsite in 1830 and,
in 1838, he led a droving party with 300 head of
cattle through the district, en route to South
Australia. Cobram station was taken up in 1845
by Octavius Phillpotts.
The Land Acts of the 1860s opened up the
district to small landowners. The first arrived
in 1872 and by the 1880s most of the land was
settled by wheat-growing selectors, although
diversification had occurred by the end of the
century as intensive wheat farming was depleting
A store, post office and school were in
operation by 1880 and a sawmill was set up in
1883. In 1886 locals lobbied for the extension
of the railway into the area as a terminus could
act as a collection point and shipment centre
for the wheat-growers. The site was chosen by a
surveyor, and the selector who owned the land in
question soon broke it up into town lots which
went on sale in 1887. All of the usual
infrastructure - hotels, businesses, a school, a
doctor, a foundry, banks, a cordial factory,
stores, churches and a newspaper - had appeared
by late 1888 when the first train arrived. The
railway signalled the decline of the river trade
but the paddlesteamers were still a part of the
passenger service in the early days of the town.
A punt service was established in 1889 and the
first bridge was opened in 1902.
The concept of irrigation caught on after the
Chaffey brothers proved its workability at
Mildura in the 1880s. Thus, in 1892, a local
farmer set up a windmill to draw river water for
the irrigation of his orchard and others
followed suit. In 1915 a pumping station was
built to irrigate several local properties.
However, change was not dramatic and the town
grew very slowly until the 1940s when a major
At the end of World War II the government
decided to use the area for a major soldier
settlement scheme. Moreover, Italian immigrants,
who first arrived in the 1920s, began to migrate
in far greater numbers after 1945 and they are a
significant presence to this day. Consequently,
irrigation surged forwards and many dairy farms
and orchards were established.
In 1949 the Soldier Settler's League formed
the Murray-Goulburn Co-operative for the
manufacture and marketing of their dairy
produce. It became the largest organisation of
its type in the world and it is now one of the
state's largest milk producers and a major
player in the local economy. The Co-op set up a
cheese factory at Cobram in 1951 which has since
diversified and it is still a significant
The Peaches & Cream Festival is held
biennially around the Australia Day weekend in
Things to see:
Tourist Information and Log Cabin
The Cobram-Barooga Visitor Information Centre is
located in a 1910 grain shed at the corner of
Station St, which was the town's commercial
centre prior to 1900, and Punt Rd. It is open
from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5872 2132
or free-call (1800) 659 258.
Opposite the centre and adjacent the railway
station (1888) is a log cabin which was
originally erected in the Yarrawonga district as
a home for the Toms family c.1875. It was moved
to the present site in 1977.
Historic Buildings and Sturt Monument
The Masonic lodge, by the south-eastern corner
of Main and Station St, was built in 1888 as a
store. On the south-western corner is the Cobram
Hotel (1892). Walk south along Station St. The
law offices also date from 1892, as does the old
mechanics institute (now the RSL Hall). At the
south-eastern corner of Station and Queen is one
of the town's oldest houses (1887). It was built
for James Grant who was co-owner of one of the
first businesses to open in town - a highly
successful foundry which was located at Station
Adjacent the highway, opposite Station St, is
a memorial to explorer Charles Sturt, the leader
of the first European party to pass through the
area in 1838.
beach on the Murray at Cobram
Murray River Beaches
Naturally the mighty Murray, with its towering
river red gums and sandy beaches, is one of the
town's greatest attractions. Popular activities
are canoeing, boating, swimming, bushwalking and
The small section of land between the town
and the river has forest and wetland areas. It
is crisscrossed by unsealed tracks which span
out from the town's roads, providing access to
the numerous beaches to the north-west, north
and north-east of town. They also provide
opportunities aplenty for walking and cycling
and the information centre has material which
outlines the possibilities.
The most popular and readily accessible beach
is Thompson's which is located near the bridge
at the north-eastern edge of town (off Boorin
St). It has picnic-barbecue facilities, a kiosk,
boat ramps, toilets and a playground. Murray
Waters Boat and Bike Hire operate from the
beach, tel: (03) 5872 2132.
Dead River Beach is just to the north-west of
town along a track which heads off Racecourse
Rd. There are picnic areas to the north at Big
Tom's and Little Tom's Beaches (access via
Wondah St). To the east of town are Scotts
Beach, Horseshoe Lagoon and Twin Knobs Beach. To
access this area head east along Morakii St
towards the bridge then turn right onto River
Rd, passing orchards to the right and red gum
forest to the left.
moored along the Murray near Cobram
River Rd leads past Quinn Island (40 ha) which
is a waterbird haven formed by a bend in the
river that has been cut off by Scotts Creek. A
bridge facilitates pedestrian access to the
island where a number of Aboriginal artefacts
such as scar trees, flint tools and middens,
have been found.
Ozzie Orange Juice
Tours are conducted through the premises of this
fruit juice factory at around 10.00 a.m. each
weekday. Ring (03) 5871 1725 or just turn up.
If you wish to pick some fresh strawberries (in
season) there are two operations at Koonoomoo,
which is slightly north of Cobram along the
Tocumwal Rd (head north-west off the Murray
Valley Highway at the western edge of town).
Scenic Drives Strawberry Farm is in Torgannah Rd
(tel: 03 5871 1263) and K.N.M. Strawberries can
be contacted on (03) 5871 1992.
Heritage Farm Wines, 5 km west on the Murray
Valley Highway, is a family winery (and orchard)
that was established in 1986. Clydesdales are
used to plough the land. There is a restored
collection of antique farm machinery, buggies
and gigs, a picnic area and a childrens'
playground. It is open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00
p.m. daily, tel: (03) 5872 2376.
Strathkeller Wineries, 8 km east on the
Murray Valley Highway, were established in 1990.
They produce chardonnay, chenin blanc, shiraz
and fortifieds and are open from 10.00 a.m. to
6.00 p.m. daily. There are picnic and barbecue
facilities, children's swings, slides and
netball, tel: (03) 5873 5274.
Murray River Horse Trails come highly
recommended for those wanting to do some trail
riding, tel: (03) 5868 2221.