Hamilton is a large town in south-western Victoria, Australia, at the intersection of the Glenelg Highway and the Henty Highway.
- Area:198.337 km2
- Elevation:183 m
- Local Government Area:Southern Grampians Shire Council
Hamilton is a large town in south-western Victoria, Australia, at the intersection of the Glenelg Highway and the Henty Highway. The Hamilton Highway connects it to Geelong.
Hamilton is in the federal Division of Wannon, and is in the Southern Grampians local government area.
Hamilton claims to be the "Wool Capital of the World", based on its strong historical links to sheep grazing which continue today. The town uses the tagline "Greater Hamilton: one place, many possibilities".
## Early history
Hamilton was built near the border of three traditional indigenous tribal territories: the Gunditjmara land that stretches south to the coast, the Tjapwurong land to the north east and the Bunganditj territory to the west. People who lived in these areas tended to be settled rather than nomadic. The region is fertile and well-watered, leading to an abundance of wildlife, and no need to travel far for food.Physical remains such as the weirs and fish traps found in Lake Condah to the south of Hamilton, as well as accounts of early white settlers support local indigenous oral histories of well-established settlements in the area.
## British colonisation
On 12 September 1836, the explorer, Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to travel through the region.His reports of the fertility and abundance of ‘Australia Felix’ (as he called this region of Western Victoria) encouraged pastoralists to move to the area and set up large sheep runs.In 1839, squatter Charles Wedge and his brothers arrived in the area and established ‘The Grange' sheep station upon the banks of the Grange Burn rivulet where the town of Hamilton now stands.There soon followed significant conflict between Wedge's men and the local Aboriginal people. Wedge reported attacks on his shepherds and the loss of hundreds of sheep and other livestock. In 1840, the killing of Patrick Codd, who had been employed on The Grange, led to at least three separate punitive expeditions which resulted in the deaths of more than ten Aborigines. Wedge infamously had a swivel gun mounted outside his homestead to deter the Indigenous people from approaching and he claimed that the "depredations did not cease till many lives were sacrificed".The "frequent collisions" compelled the squatters of the area to request protection from the Government. In 1842 temporary protection came from troopers of the Native Police under Captain Henry Dana and from the Border Police under Captain Foster Fyans. The police magistrate from Portland James Blair and the new position of police magistrate to The Grange, Acheson French were also appointed by Governor Charles Latrobe to "check the collision between the natives and the settlers".
## Birth of the town
The proximity of The Grange to other properties and to important tracks between Portland and New South Wales led to the gradual emergence of a small town.This included an inn, blacksmith, a small store and some shanties and businesses nearby.The site was a small social centre for surrounding pastoral properties, with horse races being held along the Grange Burn flat.
A Post Office opened on 1 July 1844 (Hamilton from 1 January 1854).The desire for a school prompted a town survey that commenced in 1849. The township of Hamilton was formally declared in 1851. The town was named in the following way as quoted by the book, "Dundas Shire Centenary 1863-1963", page 58. Quote: "In 1840, owing to police difficulties in controlling public houses on, or not on the imaginary boundary line, Henry Wade was sent from Sydney on a special mission to mark out the boundary. He completed the survey as far as Serviceton by the spring of 1847, and was then appointed District Surveyor and in 1850, laid out a township for the Grange, which he named Hamilton. It was then the prerogative of the surveyor to christen his lay-out. Wade and his family had made close friends of the Hamiltons and Gibsons of Bringalbert, there being intermarriages later." Unquote.
The railway reached the town in 1877, along with the local railway station which later became a hub of several branch lines until they closed in 1977 and 1979.
Like most of South Western Victoria, Hamilton has a cool oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) with some characteristics of a Warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb). Cold fronts regularly sweep in from the Southern Ocean. Although daytime temperatures occasionally reach into the 30s even 40s during summer, maximum temperatures in the mid teens will often linger until November and are not uncommon even during the summer months. On average Hamilton has 105 days per year with more than 1 mm of rain with a marked minimum during Summer.
# Things to do