Milkshake container outside Golden Cow
Dairy Education and Tourism Centre
Kyabram (including Tongala)
Substantial rural centre surrounded by rich
Kyabram is oddly situated between, but not quite
near, the Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray Rivers,
and on no major artery (the Murray Valley
Highway is 14 km to the north). Nonetheless it
is a substantial and growing rural town of some
5500 people which has proven attractive to large
numbers of retirees. Brought to life as one of
the state's irrigation projects, the district is
a major producer of fruit, agriculture and dairy
products. Local industries include a jam,
conserve and topping factory, clothing
manufacture and container production. It is 200
km north of Melbourne and 105 metres above
Prior to European settlement the area was
occupied by the Yota-Yota people. It is from
their language that the word 'Kyabram' is
derived, meaning 'thick forest'.
The first squatter took up land here in 1840.
The area was opened up to selection in the
1870s, enabling the development of wheat farming
and dairying. Fruit orchards arrived with the
first irrigation water in the 1890s.
In 1902 local businessmen initiated an
ultimately successful statewide movement to
dismiss the newly-elected Peacock government for
breach of election promise.
Further subdivision and utilisation of the
Goulburn River's water supply proceeded early in
the 20th century. Returning soldiers from World
War I intensified the fruit-growing and locals
set up a Fruit Preserving Co-Operative in 1922,
establishing one of the largest canneries in the
Southern Hemisphere. A factory to supply the tin
containers for the canned fruit was established
in the 1950s but overseas competition,
oversupply, high production costs, the loss of
the UK market to the newly-formed EEC in 1973,
and declining domestic consumption of tinned
fruit saw the Co-op go private and then close in
1983. Since that time growers have re-oriented
themselves to fresh-fruit and export markets. In
1989 a factory has reopened, converting some of
the produce into jams, conserves and toppings.
Kyabram became a borough in 1954 and a town
The Agricultural Show is held on the third
Saturday in October, a rodeo on the Labor Day
holiday in March and the Antique Aeroplane
Fly-in at the Kyabram airstrip during Easter.
Things to see:
Kyabram hotel in the main street
Kyabram Fauna Park
The fauna park, on Lake Rd, at the southern end
of town, is a community-owned operation that was
opened in 1976 as a non-profit venture. It
features five ponds with waterfowl which can be
viewed from a two-storey observation tower, a
57-metre walk-through aviary, a solar-heated
reptile house for snakes and freshwater
crocodiles and 55 ha of open-range bushland
which contains some 400 free-roaming animal
species, including Cape Barren geese, ibises,
the tiny parma wallaby (thought to be extinct
until 1967), the rare alpine dingo, Tasmanian
devils, wombats, koalas, echidnae, kangaroos and
On the grounds is Hazelman's Cottage (1867),
which was originally built 5 km away for
Theodore Hazelman, a Frenchman who travelled to
the USA as a cabin boy, fought in the American
Civil War at the age of 14, and then moved to
Australia where he became a boundary rider,
married, had 13 children and became a wheat and
The complex has a restaurant, barbecue-picnic
facilities and a childrens' playground. It is
open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., tel:
(03) 5852 2883.
Adjacent the premises are The Stables: some
renovated horse stalls which have been converted
into small shops selling pottery and crafts.
There is also a pottery workshop with kiln. They
are open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., tel:
(03) 5852 3322.
Mr Ilzyn's Cottages
Mr Ilzyn's Cottages in Breen Ave features
miniaturized versions of mansions, hotels, and
farmhouses from around the world which have been
carefully landscaped into Mr Ilzyn's garden. It
is open daily, tel: (03) 5852 3240.
Edis Park Arboretum
Edis Park Arboretum, off Oswald St, offers a
stroll or picnic under 200-year-old gums and
through some native bushland.
Willowmere is a gracious Edwardian home which
has been converted into a restaurant. It is
located at the eastern edge of town on Lancaster
Rd, tel: (03) 5853 1833.
Killamont Homestead (1880s) is delightfully set
amidst 5 acres of olde-world gardens. It is
located on Finlay Rd at Wyuna East (head north
of Kyabram for about 7 km then turn left onto
Finlay Rd) and is open to tour groups of 15 or
more, tel: (03) 5859 4248.
Tongala, 16 km north-west, and 6 km south of the
Murray Valley Highway, has a population of
around 1500 and a similar history and economic
focus to Kyabram.
The Golden Cow Dairy Education and Tourism
Centre, on Henderson Rd, is a working dairy with
regular milking sessions, young calves to view,
historic dairy machinery, displays on dairying,
irrigation, landcare and salinity, a milk
bar/cafe and souvenirs, tel: (03) 5859 1100.
The town is flooded with tents every year
during the Tent Town Festival in March when
arts-and-crafts people from around the state
meet to air their wares and skills and general
entertainment is the order of the day