The King Valley, or King River Valley is a wine-producing and agricultural region centred on the King River in north-eastern Victoria, Australia between Wangaratta and the Alpine National Park. There are a number of small towns within the region including Cheshunt, Whitfield, King Valley, Edi, Claremont, Moyhu, Byrne, Docker and Oxley.
King Valley history
The fertile valley area has been used since the 1880s to grow a variety of crops including hops and tobacco. A narrow-gauge railway was built between Wangaratta and Whitfield in 1889 and a government tobacco research farm was established in Edi and moved to Whitfield in 1902. Following the end of World War II, a large number of Italian, Yugoslav and Spanish migrants settled in the area and established tobacco farms. Following a decline in the tobacco industry in the late 70s, local farmers branched out into other crops such as chestnuts, hops and berries. In recent years, a number of vineyards have been established.
The King Valley could be described[by whom?] as a little part of Italy set amongst the hills of North East Victoria, south of Wangaratta. This stunningly picturesque area has a history which includes bushrangers, Chinese and Italian immigration. The Chinese came from the Goldfields in the mid-19th century and brought with them a rich heritage as market gardeners, tobacco growers and merchants. Roads in the Valley today carry the names of the more prominent families like Mahlooks, Honey and Fosangs. Italian migrants came to the region in the 1940s and 50's and following the Chinese grew tobacco but it was not long before they realized the enormous potential of the region to produce European wine varietals. In recent times,[when?] the Valley has been gaining in reputation as a unique wine region for sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera to name but a few. Visit the King Valley and names such as Pizzini, Dal Zotto, Corsini, Sartori, Ciccone and Politini are prominent for their hospitality. With some of the highest altitude vineyards in Australia this area produces uniquely flavoured and memorable wines.
The Whitfield railway line operated in the King Valley from 1899 to 1953. One of four narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways, the 50-kilometre line operated from Wangaratta (where it connected with the main line) to Whitfield. Today, this route is remembered as a rail trail.
Whitfield and Moyhu are the major townships in the King Valley along the road from Wangaratta or Mansfield. These two towns have public conveniences, places to stay, a local pub and general store each as well as a police station and fuel supplies. Other smaller hamlets are dotted throughout the King Valley region.