street in Rainbow
Rainbow (including Pella and Yaapeet)
Small Mallee town servicing the surrounding
Rainbow is a small town of several hundred
people at the southern end of the Mallee region
of Victoria. Travelling down the main street,
with its attractive median strip and palm trees,
one gets the feeling that little has changed
here in the last 40 or 50 years. The town serves
a large area focused largely on farming although
there are a number of stud farms in the district
and a butter factory.
Rainbow is located 392 km north-west of
Melbourne and 57 km north of Dimboola. Once
occupied by the Wotjobaluk people, the first
land grant in the area was 'Halbacutya' station,
established by John Coppock in 1846. It
stretched from Lake Hindmarsh to the northern
end of Lake Albacutya. Coppock lived at the
north-eastern corner of the lake until a dispute
with Robert von Stieglitz of the 'Pine Hill' run
(see entry on Jeparit) forced him to move his
residence to Lake Albacutya. Bushranger Dan
Morgan held up the station in 1868, after
Coppock's death. A rabbit plague ate the station
out in the late 1870s.
Closer settlement of the area began when the
property was subdivided in the late 1880s for
agricultural development. A railhead was
established in 1900, around which a township
grew. It was named after an old property called
'Rainbow Rise' which, in turn, was named after a
crescent-shaped ridge nearby upon which
colourful wildflowers grew.
Agriculture was established early in the 20th
century when the dense mallee scrub was cleared.
Things to see:
Yurunga Homestead is a huge and beautiful
Edwardian home made of brick and limestone with
an elaborate cast-iron verandah, brick trimming,
pressed-steel ceilings, a special room under the
house for use in heatwaves, and numerous
antiques and original fittings. It is located at
the end of Cust St on the northern edge of town
and is open for inspection on Sundays between
2.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. or by appointment. There
are contact numbers and addresses on the sign
outside the house.
Cust Street is named after A.G. Cust who
built Yurunga in 1909. Cust was the son of a
Wimmera pioneer. He owned a property east of
town where he bred sheep and draught horses.
In the town's main street (King St) there is a
craft shop and, within the masonic lodge hall, a
town archive has been established relating to
local history. It too is open on Sundays from
2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Follow the road known as the Amy Johnson Highway
west out of Rainbow for 10 km then turn right
down a dirt road for 2 km. There is a sign as
you pass the homestead that says they have the
key to St John's Lutheran Church. Surrounded by
wheatfields the church was made of local stone
by local tradesmen in 1901. Inside is a fine
pipe organ. The church is a reminder that the
area was settled by German migrants whose
descendants still attend in considerable
numbers. Adjoining are the manse and a Lutheran
Primary School which now contains an historical
The road which traverses the short distance
from the homestead to the Pella church takes you
through the kind of vegetation which had to be
cleared in the Mallee to allow for the
development of wheat.
Hindmarsh near Rainbow
The back road from Rainbow to Jeparit (sealed)
heads south-west, looping around Lake Hindmarsh
in a semi-circle to Jeparit. The largest
freshwater lake in Victoria, Hindmarsh is very
beautiful with lots of wildlife and Australian
flora. The first white man in the area was
Edward Eyre who camped here in 1838 while
exploring an overland route from Melbourne to
Adelaide. He named it after Sir John Hindmarsh,
Governor of South Australia.
Four-Mile Beach, on the southern shore of the
lake, is a popular spot for fishing, swimming,
boating and water skiing. There are camping
facilities, a boat ramp and hot showers. Picnic
Point beach and a water skiing club can be found
on the south-eastern shore. Schulze's Beach also
has a boat ramp and lies on the western shore
while Williamson's Beach is located on the
Near the north-eastern corner of the lake,
Pioneer Lane, a good dry-weather gravel road,
heads off to the left (it is the last left
before you cross Outlet Creek). If you follow
this road a short distance you will come to an
intersection where you will find the gravesite
of John Coppock who, in 1846, became the first
European settler in the area. The headstone
reads: '1865. John Coppock. An honest man'.
At the north-western tip of the lake, the back
road from Rainbow to Jeparit separates the
lagoon (to your left) from Birdcage Flora and
Fauna Reserve (on your right). The name derives
from the number of Mallee birds which are
contained within the reserve's floodplain and
Big Desert communities. There are also some rare
butterflies. No real access roads into Birdcage
exist but you can park the car and take a walk
through the wildflowers, undertake some nature
studies or camp in the bush. For further
information ring (03) 5083 3411.
Lake Albacutya Park
Lake Albacutya, 15 km north of Rainbow, seems to
fill and empty in a 20-year cycle. It last
filled in 1974 and held water for nine years.
The source is the Wimmera River which fills Lake
Hindmarsh and the water is then conveyed via
Outlet Creek to Lake Albacutya. When full, it is
a popular boating, fishing, yabbying and
swimming spot. At other times, camping, 4WD
exploration, walking and nature studies can be
'Albacutya' is said to mean 'where the
quandongs grow'. This is a reference to a tree
found here which bears a sweet fruit eaten by
Aborigines and early European settlers alike.
The wood was used for cabinet-making.
To access the lake head north of Rainbow on
the Hopetoun Rd for 8 km. A signpost indicates
the turnoff which is a sealed road to the left.
After about one more kilometre the sealed road
veers to the left while a dry-weather gravel
track heads off to the right. The sealed road
will take you to the main camping area on the
western shore. The route is well signposted all
the way and is designed for a 2WD. However, to
explore the remainder of the western shore you
will need a 4WD. The aforementioned gravel track
leads to Yaapeet Beach on the eastern shore.
This road is manageable in a 2WD unless it is
wet but a 4WD would be preferable. The eastern
shore can also be reached by heading due west of
Yaapeet but, again, a 4WD is preferable.
If you are departing from the main roads
carry a map, plenty of water and a compass and
alert a friend of your plans. For further
information ring (03) 5395 7221 or 131 963.
Wyperfeld National Park and Yaapeet
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).
Wyperfeld 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.
The Wonga Camping Area at the southern end of
the park is 47 km from Rainbow (sealed all the
way). Head north on the Hopetoun Rd. Avoid the
turnoff to Lake Albacutya at the 8 km mark.
Instead stick to the Hopetoun Rd which heads
east. After 3 km turn left towards Yaapeet (8
km), a tiny village with a licensed general
store, a garage, a nature reserve of Mallee
flora through which a short nature trail runs,
and the Wyperfeld Park office, tel: (03) 5395
At Wonga there are camping and picnic
facilities, fireplaces, toilets, cold water for
hand washing (i.e., to be used sparingly) and a
visitors' centre where you can garner 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 the route into the park's
northern section is well-signposted (for further
information on the northern section see the
entry on Patchewollock).
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