(now shops), Murchison
Murchison (including Tatura and Toolamba)
Small rural township on the Goulburn River
Murchison is a small rural town of some 600
people situated on the Goulburn River in the
Lower Goulburn Valley Plains. Murchison East is
located 145 km north of Melbourne on the
Goulburn Valley Highway, between Nagambie and
Shepparton. Murchison itself is just to the
west, off the highway.
The Ngooraialum tribe (about 200 strong)
occupied the land around Murchison before being
devastated and dispossessed by the arrival of
The first white men in the district belonged
to the party of explorer Thomas Mitchell which
crossed the Goulburn River to the south at what
became Mitchellstown. The first Europeans to
pass through the future townsite were probably
the drovers Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney who
were overlanding sheep and cattle from
Mitchellstown to Adelaide along the river system
An Aboriginal Protectorate was transferred
from Mitchellstown to Murchison in 1840 with a
school established that year and a native police
force in 1841. Squatters also began taking up
local land in 1840.
In 1850 the Protectorate closed and French
vigneron Ludovic Marie settled at Murchison,
establishing vineyards. The site became a river
crossing used by goldminers travelling between
the Bendigo and Beechworth fields in the early
1850s. Marie therefore established an hotel and
a punt service over the Goulburn River (in 1860
he helped start Chateau Tahbilk which is still
in operation and surveyed Nagambie).
A township, the first in the Lower Goulburn
Valley, began to develop around the crossing
which was surveyed and named in 1854 after a
Captain John Murchison. A period of fairly rapid
The first post office was built in 1855, a
flour mill in 1858 and a Presbyterian Church and
school in 1859. Land along the Goulburn was
first opened for selection in 1865 with small
landowners moving into the area in the 1870s.
A bridge replaced the punt service in 1871
and the first newspaper was established in 1873.
A courthouse and mechanics institute were built
The town benefitted greatly from the river
trade which began with the arrival of the first
paddlesteamer in 1875. At that time it had six
hotels, a number of general stores, two flour
mills, a post office, a sawmill, cordial
factory, two blacksmiths and numerous other
stores and services.
In 1878 the Murchison police station
temporarily became the base for operations
against the Kelly bushranging gang.
The railway reached Murchison East in 1880.
The building of the Goulburn Weir from 1887-90
dropped the water level and so finished off the
dying river trade. It also enabled irrigation
projects to proceed in the area, thereby
enabling the agricultural development of
Shepparton, Tatura and Dhurringile as Murchison
declined. Murchison East grew as a wheat depot
on the branch line.
Between 1941 and 1947 some 4000 POWs were
interned at Murchison. These were overwhelmingly
German, Italian and Japanese POWS although the
German officers were held at the Dhurringile
mansion to the north of town. By 1942 the POW
camp was employing 675 people, including 64
officers, to guard the prisoners.
The prisoners were used as a local source of
labour. In 1943 the Italians and Japanese were
used to pick fruit and the Italians were also
used to cut wood. There was such a suspicion of
the Germans that they were not allowed out of
the camp. The camp was closed in 1947 and the
main hall and clubrooms were removed to
Murchison for the use of the RSL.
A truly spectacular event in the town's
history was a meteor shower in 1969 when
fragments of the rarest known type of meteorite
fell over a wide area to the sound of explosions
and blinding flashes of light. An American
analyst discovered five chemical components
found in the genes of all living matter, thereby
increasing the possibility that life could
develop or have developed elsewhere in the
Things to see:
Tourist Information can be obtained from
Shepparton's Visitor Information Centre, tel:
(03) 5831 4400 or free-call (1800) 808 839.
Italian War Memorial
Murchison Italian War Memorial and Chapel
During the Second World War 4 000 Italian,
German and Japanese POWs were detained at
Murchison. Those who died at Murchison were
buried in the local cemetery but floods in 1956
did major damage to the graves. A Mr Luigi
Gigliotti persuaded Italian families living in
the Goulburn Valley to pay for the building of a
mausoleum. He also managed to persuade the
authorities to bury all the Italian POWs and
detainees who died in Australian prison camps in
The mausoleum, completed in 1961, is Italian
in style. It is built of Castlemaine stone with
Roman roof tiles, a campanile and an altar of
Italian marble. Each year, on Remembrance Day,
mass is celebrated before a large gathering.
There is also an Italian war memorial and
Elsewhere in the cemetery is the grave of
King Charles Tattambo, the leader of the
Goulburn tribe at the time of white arrival. He
died in 1866. His son (the next leader) and
widow were buried adjacent in 1874.
The cemetery is located at the southern end
of town, by the Goulburn River, along the
Longleat Winery, established in 1975, is located
2 km south of Murchison in Old Weir Rd (the
route is signposted from town). It is planted
with shiraz, sauvignon, semillon, cabernet,
Rhine riesling and pinot noir and is open from
Monday to Saturday, 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., and
on Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. There is
a picnic area with barbecue facilities, tel:
(03) 5826 2294.
Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church (1878)
The town's three churches are all in Impey St
and all date from the 19th century. There is the
Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church (1878), the
Anglican church (1884) and St Brigid's Catholic
Campbell's Bend Picnic Reserve
Located at the eastern bondary of Murchison,
Campbell's Bend Picnic Reserve is signposted off
the road to Murchison East.
Murchison Gallery and Tea Rooms
Hand-made glasswork, tuned windchimes, wooden
toys, turned woodwork, glazed porcelain, pottery
and paintings can all be found in Robinson St
from Thursday to Monday, tel: (03) 5826 2632.
Dhurringile is a lavish 65-room mansion which
was built in 1877 for pastoralist John Winter.
In the Second World War it was used for the
detention of German officers and it is now a
low-security prison. With orchards adjacent it
can clearly be seen adjacent the Tatura Rd, 11
km north of town.
22 km north of Murchison, via the Tatura Rd, is
the settlement of Tatura. At the corner of Ross
and Hogan Sts is the Tatura Irrigation & Wartime
Camps Museum which features a display relating
to local and irrigation history in the original
Rodney Irrigation Trust building (c.1888).
Another building contains memorabilia and
photographs relating to the local POW camps
which were established in World War II. They are
open weekends and public holidays from 2.00 p.m.
to 4.00 p.m. or by appointment, tel: (03) 5824
1822 or (03) 5824 2111.
If you head west along the Rushworth Rd and
turn right into Winter Rd you will come to the
local cemetery where a number of German POWs are
If you are heading north along the Mooroopna Rd
you will soon pass the signposted turnoff to
Avonlea Flowers, a wholesale-retail flower farm
where you can view the process or buy the
merchandise - fresh or dried, along with bulbs
and crafts. They are open all year, tel: (03)
'Noorilim' (c.1870), 6 km east on the Goulburn
Valley Highway, is considered one of the
grandest homesteads in the state. A two-storey
Classical brick structure, it features a large
central tower. It is only open to the public on
an occasional basis