Small country service centre
Wycheproof is a small country town of some 800
people which has the distinction of a railway
line traversing the main thoroughfare. This
circumstance apparently arose because the
government was unwilling to pay extra money to
purchase land especially for the track. This
section of the highway is known as Broadway St.
It seems difficult to credit but an
American-born chemist came up with the name in
the 1880s as it reminded him of New York's
Broadway. Perhaps New York was smaller then.
Wycheproof is situated on the edge of the
Mallee, 292 km north-west of Melbourne and 268
km south-east of Mildura on the Calder Highway.
The economic basis of the area is evident in the
one-million-bushel silos adjacent the highway
(and railway line) at the northern end of the
The town's name allegedly derives from the
Aboriginal place-name 'witchi-poorp', said to
mean 'grass on a hill', a reference to Mt
Wycheproof just east of the highway. The first
station in the district was established in 1846.
There was but one settler here at the start of
1874 but a subdivision that year created a
population of 130. The town was surveyed in 1875
and the railway arrived in 1883.
The grandfather of the distinguished Sir
Douglas Nicholls, the first knighted Aborigine
and Governor of South Australia, lived here in
Things to see:
The shire offices in Broadway St are the best
place to direct enquiries, tel: (03) 5493 7400.
Willandra Farm Museum
At the southern end of town, on the western side
of the highway, is the Willandra Farm Museum
with old farm machinery, a slab hut,
blacksmith's shop, an old police station and
school and local memorabilia. It is open
weekends by prior arrangement, tel: (03) 5493
Just up the road is an old steam train and
turntable on the eastern side of the highway.
A little further north is Centenary Park, a
pleasant place for a picnic or rest. There are
bird aviaries, two log cabins (one displays
historical furniture), a cock-and-log fence,
barbecue and toilet facilities and a playground.
Two Heritage Buildings
At Broadway and O'Connor is the town's post
office (1889). Turn into O'Connor St and you
will come to a T-intersection. Across the road,
in High St, is the old courthouse (both 1889).
The latter is a simple Classical Revival design
with effective cream brick detailing on the
red-brick, gabled facade.
Turn right at the courthouse into High St and
take the immediate left into Mount St. A side
road will lead to the summit of Mount Wycheproof
which, at 43 m, is said to be the smallest
registered mountain in the world. Nonetheless
there are fine views of the surrounding plains.
Each year locals race each other to the top
carrying a 60-kg bag of wheat without the help
of straps or other artificial aids. Walking
tracks traverse a flora and fauna park where
there are emus and kangaroos.