Interesting service town in the Mallee
Hopetoun is a small town of about 800 people in
the southern Mallee. Surrounded by rolling sand
hills and grassy plains, it is situated on the
Henty Highway, 404 km north-west of Melbourne
and 62 km north of Warracknabeal.
The town stands on Yarriambiac Creek, near
Lake Corrong. 'Yarriambiac' is said to mean
'creek tribes' while 'corrong' is a bark canoe.
Both words presumably derive from the language
of the Yarrikaluk people who inhabited the area
prior to European settlement.
Peter McGinnis was granted a sheep run here
in 1846 which he named 'Lake Corrong'. In 1878
he sold his property to Edward Lascelles.
Lascelles was dubbed the 'Mallee King' and
'Father of the Mallee' as it was he more than
anyone else who was responsible for the European
settlement of the district. He began the process
of destroying local vermin such as the rabbits
that had been introduced in the 1860s and which
had significantly reduced wool production (a
rabbit-proof fence was eventually built along
the 36th parallel to prevent rabbits moving into
the Wimmera region).
Lascelles also agitated for lengthier terms
of tenure so that pastoralists could improve
their land and he was the first to envisage an
agricultural future for an area which was not
considered to have much promise. He subdivided
his property, developed a water supply and began
growing wheat which has since become the
mainstay of the region (half of the state's
wheat and barley and a good portion of its oats
now derive from the Mallee). To the west of
Hopetoun he developed a six-acre experimental
orchard named the Lochs and he successfully
lobbied the government to extend the railway to
Hopetoun in 1893.
Lascelles never made a fortune from his
Mallee endeavours but never doubted his cause
and, by the time he died at Geelong in 1917, he
was regarded as one of the state's major
pioneers. The fountain in the middle of town is
dedicated to his memory.
Lascelles' homestead, built in 1891, became
known as Hopetoun House after the seventh Earl
of Hopetoun who was Victorian governor from 1889
to 1895 and the first governor-general of
Australia (1901 to 1903). He was a friend of
Lascelles' and a regular visitor to the house.
The town developed around and drew its name
from Hopetoun House. The first township blocks
were also sold in 1891. Water was channelled
from the Grampians to the new settlement in
1899. After the First World War, many soldier
settlers were granted farm plots.
Things to see:
Gateway Beat, 75 Lascelles St, tel: (03) 5083
Corrong Station Homestead
The homestead was built around 1846 by the first
land grantee in the area, Peter McGinnis, for
his wife, his seven children and their adopted
Aboriginal boy, Jowley, known as Black Peter,
who is buried in the local cemetery. The house
has been relocated in McGinnis Park off Evelyn
St, amongst a lot of Australian native plants.
It is generally open weekends but on an informal
basis. If it is not open when you arrive a sign
will direct you to contact the woman over the
road for the key.
House, 77 Evelyn Street, Hopetoun
At 77 Evelyn St, opposite the swimming pool, is
Hopetoun House built of local limestone in 1891
by Edward Lascelles who did more than any other
to transform the scrub of the Mallee into
productive agricultural and pastoral land.
The house was named after the seventh Earl of
Hopetoun who was Victorian governor from 1889 to
1895 and the first governor-general of Australia
(1901 to 1903). He was a friend of Lascelles'
and a regular visitor to the house. The town
developed around Hopetoun House and later took
The brick-and-stone home has formal gardens
and a circular drive. It originally had
uninterrupted views of the lakes. Lascelles left
the house when he returned to Geelong in 1898.
Now in private ownership
Lake Lascelles is a beautiful recreation spot
only 400 m from the shopping centre. The
foreshore park has picnic facilities and
barbecues and the lake is ideal for all water
sports. There is a childrens' playground, a boat
ramp and water sports facilities. The first
stage of a fascinating and eccentric structure
called the 'Creative Village' is almost
complete. It is intended as an hostel for
backpackers, providing overnight accommodation
and cooking facilities etc. For further
information ring (03) 5083 3411.
Hopetoun Historical Museum
Hopetoun Historical Museum is based in the
former primary school on the Yaapeet Rd. It is
open by appointment, tel: (03) 5083 3001.
A huge and colourful wall mural (20.7 x 3.7
metres) in the centre of town depicts items
associated with local history (a stump-jump
plough, the Mallee roller etc) and local birds
The memorial fountain in the town centre was
erected in 1929 as a tribute to Lascelles.
Just to the south-east of town is Lake Coorong
which only fills up in very wet years. It was
once a meeting place for Aborigines who traded
stone axes, grinders, mussel shells and ochre.
It is still popular with local avifauna and is
ideal for canoeing, windsurfing or picnicking.
For further information ring (03) 5083 3411.
Wyperfeld National Park
Wyperfeld National Park is one of Victoria's
largest national parks. It contains a series of
lakes which are linked by Outlet Creek, though
they are usually dry, filling only when the
Wimmera River floods, which is about once every
few decades. It fills Lake Albacutya which
overflows into Outlet Creek, once frequented by
European settlers moved into the area in
1847. The first reserve was established in 1909
as a result of lobbying by naturalists (the park
was declared in 1921).
The park is known for its fauna and flora.
There are plenty of kangaroos, emus and birds in
the park which consists of semi-arid landscapes
of sand dunes and spinifex, mallee scrub,
heathlands and native pine woodlands of river
red gum and blackbox.
To access the park head west of the
Hopetoun-Yaapeet Rd (sealed). After 31 km the
road veers to the right near Lake Albacutya (see
entry on Rainbow) and veers north for another 20
km to Wonga Camping Area where there are camping
and picnic facilities, fireplaces, toilets, cold
water for handwashing (i.e., to be used
sparingly) and a visitors' centre where you can
get further information on the park's features.
There are a number of lookouts, the 15-km
Eastern Lookout Nature Drive which is suitable
for a 2WD (an accompanying leaflet outlines
interesting features), two 6-km nature walks and
some longer treks. Be warned that, in summer, it
gets very hot. Be sure you have plenty of water,
a hat, compass and topographic map. Cyclists
will enjoy the entrance road, the Eastern
Lookout road and the Outlet Creek track.
If you have a 4WD it is possible to access
Casuarina Campground and Pine Plains in the
park's northern section (see entry on
Patchewollock). The route is well-signposted.
There is also a camping area with basic
facilities for overnight walkers at the
commencement of the Nine Mile Square Track.
Other accommodation is available at Rainbow and
For further information on the park ring (03)
The appeal of the Wathe Flora and Fauna Reserve
is that it is an important breeding ground for
the Mallee fowl which is indigenous to this
semi-arid region of Victoria. The mallee fowl
can be detected by its distinctive mounds which
are circular and dome-like in shape. They can be
as much as five metres across and one metre
high. The fowl lays its eggs inside this mound.
Wildflowers bloom all year round. The sandy
tracks render this a 4WD-only zone. It is
signposted off the Hopetoun to Patchewollock.