street from the band rotunda in the
centre of Nathalia
Pleasant old-fashioned rural service centre.
Nathalia is a town with an old-fashioned country
feel in a flat agricultural and dairying area,
220 km north of Melbourne via Shepparton.
Consisting of some 1500 people it is spread over
both banks of Broken Creek on the Murray Valley
Highway, between Echuca and Cobram.
It is testimony to the vagaries of Australian
place names that some proponents claim
'Nathalia' is an Aboriginal word meaning 'place
with no stones' while others say it is named
after Peter the Great's mother.
The area is thought to have been occupied by
the Yota-Yota people prior to white settlement.
The first European in the district was explorer
Charles Sturt who followed the Murray to its
junction with the Goulburn River in 1838.
Squatters soon followed and the town was to
develop on the 'Kotupna' station, established by
W.J. Locke in 1843. This was divided in two in
1861 then broken up for closer settlement after
the 1869 Land Act, despite the strenuous
resistance of the squatters.
One of the selectors, Richard Blake, took up
land on the future townsite in 1875. He built a
sawmill in 1876 and a flour mill in 1877. A
village was in existence by 1876, when the first
hotel was licensed, and a regular coach service
was established the following year. The first
post office, state school and Wesleyan Church
opened in 1878. When the first survey was
conducted in 1879, there were about 150 persons
living on both sides of Broken Creek. The
streets were named after early landholders.
The town's main thoroughfare (Blake St) was
modelled on Sturt St in Ballarat. It features a
fine central plantation on the southern side of
Broken Creek. There are some attractive
19th-century verandah-fronted shops and
red-brick buildings and a large reserve on the
southern bank of the creek, off Park St, which
is ideal for picnics.
Nathalia was gazetted as a village in 1880. A
Catholic Church and the first bank opened in
1881, a coach factory in 1882, a local newspaper
and police station in 1884 and a flour mill in
1885. The railway arrived from Numurkah in 1888,
facilitating the expansion of local production.
A butter factory was built in 1895 and, in 1900,
a local man patented the Empire combine
harvester but, unfortunately for the state, the
design was sold to a South Australian company.
By 1905 the population had reached 1000 and the
town had settled into the role it enjoys to this
day as a service centre to the district which
produces wheat and other crops.
Annual events include the Easter Bush Bash
and the Agricultural Show on the first weekend
in October. The Bush Bash entails a major tennis
tournament, involving some three or four hundred
competitors. It takes place on the town's 16
lawn tennis courts.
Camping and fishing can be enjoyed along the
Goulburn and Murray Rivers and Nathalia has a
Things to see:
street of Nathalia
Nathalia Community Crafts and Tourist
Information are located in Blake St. They are
open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on weekdays
and on Saturdays from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.,
tel: (03) 5866 3063.
The Broken Creek Walk Track
The information centre has a pamphlet outlining
eight separate walks along the creek which
meanders through the centre of town, taking in
some fine waterside homesteads, the weir, a few
fishing spots, a lookout and some attractive
local flora, including redgum, box trees and
An Historic Walk-Drive
The information centre also has a pamphlet
outlining a tour of the town's historic
buildings and sites. The following is a
truncated tour of the major sites.
Start at the unusual war memorial in the
central plantation of Blake St, on the southern
side of the Town Bridge which spans Broken
Creek. It consists of a large rock bound in
chains and bearing the names of the locals who
died in the two world wars. On the western side
of the road, adjacent the memorial, is the
Bridge Hotel (1882). On the eastern side is a
shop known as 'The Corner'(1888).
A few steps along Bromley St, to the right,
is a wooden building. Its western end was the
town's first building - a sawmill erected in
Return to Blake St, heading south. To the
left are The Nathalia Herald building (1888) and
the old Bank of Australasia (1889), now the ANZ
Bank. On the other side of the road is the
Westpac bank, situated in the old Commercial
Bank building (1898).
Continuing south along Blake St, to the left,
are Humberstone Hall (built in 1885 as a venue
for balls and concerts) and the former post
office - a decorative single-storey brick
building with stucco mouldings and Jacobean
touches. It was built in 1878 with the front
office added in 1891 and the residence in 1915.
At the Pearce St corner is the rather
beautiful Court House Hotel which was one of the
town's first buildings (1876).
West, at Pearce and Veldt, is the former
Presbyterian manse (1893) and church (1889).
Head east along Pearce St to the Gifford St
corner and the town's historical museum.
The Nathalia Historical Museum is located in the
old mechanics institute (1887). It contains
memorabilia, maps, books and old photographs and
is open on the second Sunday of the month from
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Historic Walk Continued
Continue east along Pearce turning right into
Robertson St where you will see the Anglican
church (1887). Head north along Robertson St.
Near the Bromley St corner is the Catholic
church and presbytery (1893).
Turn left into Bromley St and on the left is
the primary school which was started in 1878,
with later additions. Return east along Bromley
St to the Chapel St corner. Looking east there
are kurrajongs on either side of Bromley St,
planted as a memorial to the war dead.
Turn left into Chapel St, passing the Uniting
Church built in 1889 as the Methodist Church
(the porch was added later). On the other side
of the road is the old Methodist parsonage from
Cross over Squeezy Bridge (c.1901). Opposite
the bridge in Muntz Ave is 'Norwood' (c.1880).
Head west along Muntz Ave. By the Kostadt St
corner is 'Hallfields' (c.1896 with recent
additions). Just along Kostadt St, to the right,
is St Paul's parsonage (c.1888).
Return to Muntz Ave and follow it back to the
main road (known as Elizabeth St on the northern
side of Broken Creek). At Elizabeth and Scott
Ave is a craft shop built in 1893 as a bakery.
Heading north along Elizabeth St, to the left,
is the Brown, Corke & Co shop (1888), a rare
survival of a type of large general store once
common in provincial Victoria. It is a row of
three single-storey brick shops with a
decorative cast-iron verandah, large shop
windows and central double doors. At the
south-western corner of Elizabeth and North is
the former Bank of Victoria (1891).
Turn left into North St then right into Scott
Ave which follows the creek bank. At its end is
'Woodlands' (1896), one of the town's finest
Return to the Elizabeth and North St corner,
heading north along Elizabeth St. To the
immediate right are the Memorial Gardens where
there are 64 rose bushes and plaques; one for
each of the locals who died in the two world
At the north-eastern corner of Elizabeth and
Nicholson is the former Yeomanry Store (1889). A
little further along Elizabeth, to the left, is
the old butter factory (1895).
From September 1 to May 31 the gardens of the
'Woodbine' homestead are open to group tours.
There are deciduous and evergreen trees and
shrubs, interplanted with perennials, bulbs and
annuals, as well as ducks, hens, and aviaries
with finches, parrots and canaries. The cost is
$3.50 per person. Lunches and tea can be
arranged, tel: (03) 5866 2334.
Barmah State Forest
Barmah State Forest (29 500 ha) is situated upon
the floodplains of the Murray River. In
conjunction with Moira State Park across the
border it forms the largest redgum forest in the
world and has received a World Heritage listing.
Some of the trees rise to 40 m in height and are
300 years old. Canoe trees and middens bear
testimony to thousands of years of Aboriginal
In winter the area usually floods creating a
wetland biosphere which becomes a breeding
ground for birds (there are 206 species in the
forest). Consequently it is a popular spot for
birdwatching, as well as fishing, walking,
boating, camping, picnicking and car touring.
However, in the wet season, the tracks are
flooded and canoeing becomes a preferred means
of exploration. Emus, kangaroos, wild horses,
reptiles and amphibia are also found in the
Head north for 7 km along the Murray Valley
Highway and you can either continue along the
highway towards Cobram or turn left onto the
Picola/Barmah Rd. Several access roads head
northwards into the park from both these major
thoroughfares. However rain, flooding and
seasonal closure affect that access. Ring (03)
5866 2702 for a report on the state of the roads
and (03) 5869 3308 for further information on