from Yarrawonga with the paddle steamer
wheel in the foreground
Holiday and retirement resort near the Murray
Yarrawonga is located at the south-western
corner of Lake Mulwala where the lake passes
through the Yarrawonga Weir and flows into the
Murray River. These two bodies of water form
part of the state boundary with New South Wales.
Mulwala is clustered along the western shore of
the lake. As it is located on the other side of
the weir and the river to Yarrawonga it is,
therefore, in New South Wales. However, the two
are linked by a bridge over the mouth of the
lake and virtually constitute a continuous
Being close to vast amounts of water and
noted for its sunshine, it would come as no
surprise to learn that this area is essentially
a holiday resort and retirement centre, although
the irrigation scheme supports substantial
primary industries, such as dairying,
agriculture and pastoral activities, in the
surrounding countryside. Yarrawonga also has an
explosives factory, a hydro-electrical power
station and sheep sale yards. It is 264 km
north-east of Melbourne via the Hume Freeway
(turn off at Benalla) and 128 metres above
sea-level. Yarrawonga has 5522 residents while
Mulwala has 1750.
The Mulla Walla people are said to have
occupied the area before the first white
settlers arrived in 1842. These were the party
of Elizabeth Hume, the widow of explorer John
Kennedy Hume who was murdered by bushrangers at
Gunning in 1840. His more famous brother,
Hamilton Hume, took up the run on her behalf
(the homestead is now a tourist attraction).
The 1860s Land Acts broke up the old pastoral
runs so as to enable closer settlement and the
village of Yarrawonga was founded in 1868. By
1874 the village was of sufficient importance to
warrant a courthouse. The railway arrived in
The major development in the town's history
has been the construction of the Yarrawonga Weir
and Lake Mulwala in the late 1930s as part of
the Murray-Darling Irrigation Scheme. This
irrigation project greatly enhanced the
productivity and prosperity of the district and
it allowed the government to provide
opportunities for war veterans after World War
II when they were given land throughout the
district as part of a major soldier settlement
A pine plantation was established to the west
of town in 1958 to supply a local match factory
although Yarrawonga has been a resort town since
the early 1960s.
January witnesses the Australian speed boat
championships, the Lake Mulwala Water Ski
Spectacular and rowing and sailing regattas.
There is a noted tennis tournament at Easter,
the Yarrawonga Show in October and the Red Cross
Murray River Marathon, a canoe race from
Yarrawonga to Swan Hill, on December 27.
Yarrawonga also has the largest golf course in
Australia (45 holes).
Bush markets are held on the second and
fourth Sundays of the month at the railway
station and the Rotary Markets on the third
Sunday at the primary school.
Things to see:
The Yarrawonga-Mulwala Visitor Information
Centre is located in Irvine Pde on the shores of
the lake, just beside the bridge. They have
maps, activity sheets, day tours and educational
information, tel: (03) 5744 1989 or free-call
(1800) 062 260.
The centre contains the Old Yarra Mine Shaft,
a walk-through replica mine with fossils,
crystals, opals, gems and minerals implanted in
the artificial seams. To contact a web-site
which specialises in the local area go to
Lake Mulwala was built in the late 1930s when
the Murray was dammed at the Yarrawonga Weir as
part of the Murray-Darling Irrigation Scheme.
The Mulwala Canal is allegedly the longest
irrigation channel in the Southern Hemisphere.
The reservoir covers 6000 ha and is a popular
tourist attraction. Picnicking at the foreshore
parks, birdwatching, fishing, sailboarding,
waterskiing, swimming, canoeing, sailing,
boating and guided paddle-boat cruises are all
popular on the lake. Pelican Island is a
breeding ground for pelicans and there are
several ibis rookeries. Thousands of partially
submerged trees poke eerily out from the
waterline (apparently to stop waves building).
Two paddlesteamers operate on the lake and
along the Murray. They are the Lady Murray (tel:
03 5744 2005) and the Paradise Queen, tel: (03)
5744 1843. Bookings can be made through the
Phil Smith's Ski Rides hires out yachts,
canoes, fishing boats, air chairs, kneeboards
and ski equipment and he takes people
waterskiing, tube riding and paragliding. There
are also ski lessons, tel: (0419) 211 122.
The Mulwala Water Ski Park and Club in
Melbourne St offers excellent facilities, ski
lessons and rides, tel: (03) 5744 1515.
There are boat ramps and some fine foreshore
parks adjacent the roads which hug the southern
foreshore in Yarrawonga - Hunt St, Bank St
(which has a swimming pool and waterslide) and
River Rd. There is another pool, waterslide and
boat ramp at the end of Inglis St in Mulwala.
Tudor House Clock Museum
The Tudor House Clock Museum has an excellent
display of about 400 clocks from around the
world, situated within a Tudor-style house at 21
Lynch St (by the Piper St corner). It is open
daily from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. but closed
some Fridays, tel: (03) 5744 1249.
Arts, crafts and gifts are available daily from
Canning A.R.T.S. at 51 Belmore St, tel: (03)
Linley Park Animal Farm
Linley Park Animal Farm has both native and
exotic species, including emus, kangaroos, water
buffaloes, donkeys, wombats, native parrots and
waterbirds. There are rides on a farm trailer
behind a motor bike, and, in season,
sheep-shearing demonstrations. There is an
emphasis on opportunities for the kids to
bottle-feed baby and farm animals and sheep dogs
at work. It is possible to purchase baby guinea
pigs, ducks and chickens. the owners Pan and Rob
Donaldson, do a fantastic bush tucker pan sizzle
at lunch time and Pam's tomato relish is,
according to one enthusiastic patron, 'to die
for'. The farm is at the north-eastern edge of
town, at the corner of the Corowa Rd and Bull
Plains Rd, tel: (03) 5743 1693.
Virtually opposite is Kyffin Reserve, a quiet
and popular area for picnickers and walkers by
the lake shore. There is an Aboriginal canoe
tree on the eastern side of the reserve.
The Pioneer Museum at 151 Melbourne St has local
memorabilia including photographs, agricultural
machinery, early forms of transport, a display
relating to sports and hobbies and items from
the Mulwala station woolshed (1860s). There is
also a temporary display of toys from the
pre-television era. It is open from 1.30 a.m. to
5.00 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday and on school
and public holidays, tel: (03) 5744 1402.
Tunzafun Amusement Park has a mini-golf course,
dodgem cars, a train ride, chair-o-plane,
trampolines etc. It is open daily from 10.00
a.m. in Melbourne St, tel: (03) 5744 2033.
Out of Town
Byramine Homestead is a substantial, early and
intact country homestead built in 1842 for
Elizabeth Hume, the widow of explorer John
Kennedy Hume who was murdered by bushrangers at
Gunning in 1840. His more famous brother,
Hamilton Hume, took up the run on her behalf.
The large hexagonal house with its three
octagonal front rooms was designed by an English
architect for usage in India. It sits atop an
underground cellar. Ceilings, beams, floors,
shutters, doors, roof shingles (now covered with
galvanised iron) and the verandah are made of
local Murray pine. The walls, up to 50 cm thick,
are constructed of hand-made bricks.
The insecurity which characterised the life
of Europeans on the 'frontier' is apparent. The
house was designed to facilitate clear
visibility over the surrounding area, the front
door could be defended by gunfire from within,
the doors could be barricaded, there are wooden
shutters for the French windows and low door
handles to allow the children quick entry and,
at the centre of the house, is a windowless room
which served as an internal fortress. The whole
is beautifully set amidst elms and currajongs
planted by Elizabeth Hume.
The house is located 15 km west on the Murray
Valley Highway. Visitors can avail themselves of
Devonshire teas or, by prior arrangement,
gourmet luncheons and dinners, and barbecues. It
is open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. from
Thursday to Monday, tel: (03) 5748 4321.
Fyffefield Wines are located directly opposite
Byramine. They were established in 1993 and
produce a range of red, white and fortified
wines (shiraz, petit verdot, verdelho,
chardonnay, cabernet, riesling, tokay, muscat
and ports). They are open daily from 10.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m. and there are picnic and brabecue
facilities and a children's playground, tel:
(03) 5748 4282.
Cobrawonga State Forest
The southern bank of the Murray River, between
Yarrawonga and Cobram, is full of delightful
twists and turns and tiny beaches. It is
bordered by the Cobrawonga State Forest, 2500 ha
of fauna-rich river redgum forest. There are a
number of possible destinations for those who
wish to see the river and forest. Slightly west
of Yarrawonga Cullens Rd/Breans Rd heads off the
Murray Valley Highway to Yarrawonga Common where
there are picnic tables. Further west are the
billabongs and beaches of Bruce's Bend and
Nevins Bend (both have fireplaces and picnic
tables), the beaches and islets of Bourkes Bend
(fireplaces and picnic facilities), and
Cobrawonga Island (beaches and walking tracks).
Unfortunately the departure roads are not
well signposted but the information centre has
Boatrock is an old Aboriginal bathing and
watering hole located to the north of town off
the Savernake Rd. Contact the information centre
for further details and maps.
Horse riding and Tours
Red Gum Horse Tours operate trail rides along
the Murray. Bookings can be made through the
information centre. Fantasy Rides (tel: 03 5743
1468) and Linga Longa Tours (tel: 03 5726 8489)
offer trips around the town and area; the former
in the side-car of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
and the latter in a mini-coach.
Junolan Miniature Horse Stud
Here is an interesting and unusual display of
miniature horses. Located in a large barn the
display includes an informative talk on the
history of miniature horses. These miniature
horse are so small that none of them is higher
than 86 cm. There is an area for photos, a gift
and souvenir shop and easy coach access. Junolan
Stud is located at Bundalong South 4 km off the
Murray Valley Highway. It is available for coach
tours only and is not open to the general
public. Contact Noel or June Andrews on (03)