Select Page

Join Our Community
You May Also Like


Horsham is a regional city in the Wimmera region of western Victoria, Australia.


  • Area:23.829 km2
  • Elevation:135 m
  • Population:14,543
  • Local Government Area:Horsham Rural City Council


Horsham is a regional city in the Wimmera region of western Victoria, Australia. Located on a bend in the Wimmera River, Horsham is approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) northwest of the state capital Melbourne. In June 2018, Horsham had an estimated population of 16,514. It is the most populous city in Wimmera, and the main administrative centre for the Rural City of Horsham local government area. It is the eleventh largest city in Victoria after Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Wodonga, Mildura, Shepparton, Warrnambool, Traralgon, and Wangaratta. An early settler James Monckton Darlot named the settlement after the town of Horsham in his native England. It grew throughout the latter 19th and early 20th centuries as a centre of Western Victoria's wheat and wool industry, becoming the largest city in the Wimmera and Western Victoria by the early 1910s.Horsham was declared a city in 1949 and was named Australia's Tidiest Town in 2001. # History ## Pre-colonisation Recent archaeological research of rock shelters by La Trobe University in the Grampians found clear evidence of Aboriginal occupation 3–4,000 years ago, and the possibility of occupation up to 22,000 years ago. The rock shelters would have provided reliable access to water and a base to hunt megafauna on the plains of the Wimmera. Then "around the time of the arrival of the First Fleet, the Jardwa people were being forced south by either a Murray or northern Victorian tribe called the Wotjol". By the time of European exploration and settlement, the Jardwadjali language (a dialect of the Wemba-wemba language group common across most of Western Victoria)) was well established across the southern portion of the Wimmera region. Wimmera Aboriginal people hunted and traded widely, with stone for their tools coming up from the Grampians in the Ararat district. Relations between Europeans and Aboriginal people, as across much of Australia, were mixed, featuring both conflict and cooperation. One of the last Aboriginal missions in Victoria, Ebenezer Mission, was run successfully by the Moravian Order during the 1870s and 1880s, providing education and employment for the region's Indigenous people before it fell into decline in the 1890s and closed in 1902. ## European Exploration Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to pass through the area, naming the Wimmera River on 18 July 1836. After the explorer Edward Eyre passed through the region seeking an overland route between Port Philip and Adelaide, he reported to The Adelaide Gazette on 14 July 1838 that the region was "well-watered and affording good pasturage for stock." ## Settlement The Squatters were the first European settlers in the Wimmera. William J Bracewell made the first claim, claiming 100,000 acres at Dooen on 10 August 1842. Although Captain Chris Lewis was the first resident of the Wimmera, settling at Ledcourt Station at Glenorchy in 1840. Charles Carter, a Squatter from Van Diemen's Land established his property "Brim Springs" nearby in 1845. The Wimmera region was made part of the Portland Bay district in 1843 and then became its own district in 1846. Land ownership was formalised in 1847, and the "Wimmera squatters wasted no time in securing their land cheaply as leasehold." George Langlands, a merchant from Melbourne was encouraged by James Darlot to move to the Wimmera region and open a store. Langlands reached the Wimmera and opened a general store in October 1849 on what is now the corner of Darlot and Hamilton Street. A Post Office had opened a year earlier on 1 July 1848. By 1851 the small village of Horsham had been established, consisting of an estimated 18 homes. ## Town The 1851 census counted 2,019 people living in the Wimmera region. The Victorian gold rush connected Horsham with the rest of the state, when it became a stop-over point for the Gold Escort in 1851. Governance was formalised in 1858 when the Wimmera area was included in region's first electoral district, covering an area from the Murry River in the north, then south to the Wimmera River and then east to the Grampian Range. Then in 1862 the Horsham District Road Board was established, which later evolved into the Horsham Shire with the passing of the Local Government Act in 1864. The electric telegraph was connected in 1875 and the main railway from Melbourne reached Horsham in 1879. The Horsham Borough Council and the Shire of Wimmera operated the McKenzie Creek Tramway from the town to a stone quarry, approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the south. The horse tramway opened within the town in 1885 but had ceased operating by 1927. Special picnic trains operated from time to time conveying residents in open wagons along the McKenzie Creek Tramway.The 1870s saw significant economic and demographic growth in Horsham. During this period the foundry, the hospital, and the Horsham Agricultural Society were established, with the first Horsham show held in 1876. Geoffrey Blainey, notes in his History of Victoria, that the Victorian railway building boom of the 1870s enabled large-scale wheat production to begin in the Wimmera. He also describes a unique migration of German farmers, mostly Lutherans from South Australia, who travelled across east in covered-wagons along with their families and herds of cattle and then settled in the Wimmera district. Blainey writes that "nothing in Australian history so resembles the opening of the American west as this trek of farmers to the Victorian plains in the 1870s'." Farming production in the region dramatically increased, and wheat was established as the dominant agricultural crop.Although flooding along the Wimmera River was noted during the early period of the settlement, the first major flood was recorded in 1883 with the first flood causing serious damage occurring in 1889, when several buildings and the tramway were damaged. Several serious floods then occurred along the Wimmera River over the next five decades, in 1894, 1903, 1909, 1915 and then in 1923. The flood in 1923 was the third largest on record. In response to this history of flooding, the council successfully applied in 1946 for money from the State Parliamentary Public Works Committee for flood management. Men from Horsham fought in the First World War. "By mid-August 1914 the first of Horsham's soldiers were given a rousing civic farewell at the Town Hall."However conscription "divided the community", with the Anti-Conscription League noting the high rate (6%) of conscription in the Horsham district. The Discharged Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 was created to give returning soldiers a head-start establishing farms in regional Australia. According to the act returning soldiers with farm-experience could apply for a block of land. By 1919 2,933 ex-servicemen had taken up the opportunity.The average size of the land grants were 250 to 500 acres (100 to 200 ha). When World War II started, men from Horsham again volunteered. The war effort was enthusiastically embraced, for example in May 1940, when King George VI made a Commonwealth-wide call to prayer, 1,800 people attended a religious service at the town hall. Returning servicemen were again given the opportunity to take up land grants at the end of the war, with the average size of the blocks being between 650 to 750 acres (260 to 300 ha). ## City Horsham's population had reached 6,388 in 1947 and so it was declared a city on 24 May 1949. In 1950 Horsham celebrated its Centenary with a parade through the city. But then tragedy struck on 24 February 1951 when a train and bus collided at a level crossing on Dimboola Road, resulting in 11 deaths. The Horsham Streetscape was dramatically remodelled in the 1960s when planning laws were changed and shopfront verandahs were removed from the Post Office, The Bull and Mouth, and The White Hart pubs. The Horsham City council installed the first parking meters on Firebrace Street in 1963. A major fire damaged the new State Public Office on McLachlan Street in 1971. In 1995, the Rural City of Horsham was formed through the amalgamation of the Horsham City, Wimmera and Aprapiles Shires. Horsham was then named Australia's Tidiest Town in 2001 and was also named Victoria's tidiest town in 2015.The Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 affected Horsham, with 5,700 ha (14,000 acres) area burnt around the city's fringe including the golf club and eight homes destroyed in the Haven area. Horsham experienced significant flooding in successive years in 2010 and 2011 Victorian floods. During these events, the Wimmera reached 3.32 m and 4.71 m respectively. The 2011 event was particularly severe with the Wimmera River reaching a record peak; over 1,000 residents were evacuated as flood waters divided the city and damaged 600 houses pushing up to a metre of water into parts of the CBD. # Weather # Things to do