Aerial view from the north-west, Hume Freeway bypass somewhere around top, One and Three Mile creeks meeting around the middle.
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10)|
|• Summer (DST)||AEST (UTC+11)|
|Location||230 km (143 mi) from Melbourne|
|LGA(s)||Rural City of Wangaratta|
|County||Moira, Delatite, Bogong|
|State electorate(s)||Murray Valley|
Wangaratta (//) is a cathedral city of over 17,000 people in the northeast of Victoria, Australia, about 230 km (140 mi) from Melbourne along the Hume Highway, with Benalla 45 km (28 mi) to the southwest, and Albury-Wodonga 72 km (45 mi) to the northeast. It is located at the junction of the Ovens and King rivers which flow from the Victorian Alps. It the administrative centre and most populous city in the Rural City of Wangaratta local government area.
Historically, there was disagreement about whether the first syllable should be pronounced "Wong" or "Wang". The "Wong" pronunciation was never used by a majority of the population, and never received any wide currency outside the district. It was officially disavowed by the Wangaratta City Council 's declaration in favour of the "Wang" pronunciation in the 1980s. Some locals, particularly the elderly, continue to use the "Wong" pronunciation.
The first European explorers to pass through the Wangaratta area were Hume and Hovell (1824) who named the Oxley Plains immediately south of Wangaratta.  Major Thomas Mitchell during his 1836 expedition he made a favourable report of its potential as grazing pasture. The first squatter to arrive was Thomas Rattray in 1838 who built a hut (on the site of the Sydney Hotel) founding a settlement known as "Ovens Crossing".
The Post Office in the area opened on 1 February 1843 as Ovens. The Ovens office, and the Kilmore office which opened the same day, were the fifth and sixth to open in the Port Phillip District and the first two inland offices.
The name Wangaratta was given by colonial surveyor Thomas Wedge in 1848 after the "Wangaratta" cattle station, the name of which is believed to have been derived from an indigenous language and meaning "nesting place of cormorants" or "meeting of the waters". The first land sales occurred shortly afterward and the population at the time was around 200. The first school was established by William Bindall on Chisolm Street with 17 students.
Gold was found nearby at Beechworth in February 1852 and by the end of the year more than 8,000 prospectors rushed the fields of Ovens and Beechworth. Wangaratta became a major service centre to these goldfields. As a result, the first bridge over the Ovens was completed in early 1855.
A seven member council incorporated the Borough of Wangaratta on 19 June 1863.
The 1870s saw the settlement establish a number of key infrastructure and services including the first water supply. Wangaratta hospital was opened in 1871 and the fire brigade was established in 1872. The railway to Melbourne was opened on 28 October 1873.
In 1883, the railway was connected through to Sydney.
The population at the turn of the century reached 2,500 and the centre had developed an imposing streetscape of hotels, commercial public and religious buildings.
Bruck textile mills was established in 1946, employing over a thousand workers.
Wangaratta was proclaimed a city on 15 April 1959 with a population of 12,000 people. New municipal offices were opened in 1980 which became the headquarters of the Rural City of Wangaratta after the amalgamation of municipalities in 1995.
Geography and landmarks
The geographical layout of the city is unusual in that the business district is located at the north-eastern extremity of the urban area, with outlying suburbs extending only to the south and west. The reason for this arrangement is that the area beyond the rivers, to the north and east of the business district, was until the 1990s prone to flooding and so unsuitable for building. Levees were constructed in the 1990s to alleviate the flooding, however development in this area has been slow.
Wangaratta has a warm temperate climate, with moderate rainfall, hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Despite its location close to the Snowy Mountains and the ski fields, Wangaratta does not get severely cold or snowy in winter and daytime maximum temperatures are rather mild, although cold air drifting down from the mountains can cause frosty mornings during clear winter nights. Summers are hot and sultry, with most rain falling as thunderstorms. Occasional severe heat waves are caused by hot, dry air from the central deserts of Australia moving over the area. 40+ °C temperatures occur 2–4 times a year on average, however, heatwaves are often succeeded by cold fronts, which cause a significant drop in the temperature.
Rainfall averages out to 630 mm (24.4 in) a year, most of which falls in winter with passing frontal systems, however these can occur at any time of year, however the main form of rainfall in spring and summer is from thunderstorms. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 45.8 °C (114.4 °F) to –7.2 °C (19.0 °F).
|Climate data for Wangaratta (1987-2013)|
|Record high °C (°F)||45.8
|Average high °C (°F)||31.9
|Average low °C (°F)||14.1
|Record low °C (°F)||3.5
|Rainfall mm (inches)||40.0
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2mm)||5.2||5.7||5.2||6.5||10.2||13.7||15.8||14.5||11.8||9.1||8.2||6.8||112.7|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
In local government, the Wangaratta region is covered by the Rural City of Wangaratta. The council was created in 1994 as an amalgamation of a number of other municipalities in the region with the council chambers located at the Government Centre in central Wangaratta. The City is represented by seven councillors elected once every four years by postal voting. The mayor is elected from these councillors by their colleagues for a one year term.
In September 2013 the council was sacked by the state government. Victorian Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell said this was because "Council has failed to provide effective leadership and service for the community". The council will be replaced by an administrator who will serve until the 2016 local government elections.
In federal politics, Wangaratta is located in a single House of Representatives division—the Division of Indi. The Division of Indi was seen as a safe Liberal Party of Australia seat from 1977 until 2013, when the sitting member, Sophie Mirabella was defeated by independent candidate Cathy McGowan.
Culture and sport
There are three Australian rules football clubs in Wangaratta, the Wangaratta Football Club, the Wangaratta Rovers Football Club (both competing in the Ovens and Murray Football League), and the North Wangaratta Football Club, which competes in the Ovens and King Football League. The close proximity of the Rovers and Wangaratta grounds reflects the historical sectarian split in membership of the clubs; Rovers membership being predominantly Catholic and Wangaratta being predominantly Protestant.
The city hosted several games for the 2005 Australian Football International Cup event, with several countries competing in the sport of Australian rules football. The event was played at the City Oval and Showgrounds and set the attendance records for the tournament to date.
Cricket in Wangaratta is organised by the Wangaratta and District Cricket Association. Clubs include Wangaratta Magpies, Rovers United, City Colts and Bruck Cricket Clubs.
There is one soccer team in Wangaratta, the Wangaratta City Football Club. Founded in 1951, they compete in the Albury Wodonga Football Association.
Golfers play at the course of the Wangaratta Golf Club on Yarrawonga Road, or at the course of the Jubilee Golf Club at Wangandary nearby. A nine hole course is at Boorhaman to the north of Wangaratta.
The main annual event is the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, which attracts renowned international acts and has been attended by thousands each year since 1990.
The Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE has two Wangaratta campuses. The Docker street campus offers a broad range of courses from business studies to music with a central area containing a cafeteria, library and student services. The Christensen Lane campus on the outskirts of Wangaratta is the home for the National Centre for Equine Education as well as providing courses in horticulture.
Roads are the most used transport infrastructure in Wangaratta. The Hume Freeway (M31) bypasses the city to the south and east, while the C314 now forms the main road through it (as Murphy Street and Wangaratta Road). The city is located at the junction of several other major roads, the Great Alpine Road (B500), Wangaratta-Yarrawonga Road (C374), Wangaratta-Whitfield Road (C521) and Wangaratta-Kileera Road (C523). A city bus service runs every half an hour during the day on weekdays and on Saturday mornings on a route covering Wangaratta's West End, the business district, Yarrunga and more recently, Yarrawonga Road.
Rail transport services both passengers and freight. Wangaratta railway station is the city's only passenger train station and is on the North East railway line—the main railway line between Sydney and Melbourne. It is usually served by the Albury-Wodonga V/Line rail service thrice-daily (however V/Line have operated reduced rail services with bus replacements due to the North East Rail Revitalisation project) as well as the Countrylink XPT service twice-daily in both directions.
Historically Wangaratta was the junction of several railway branch lines including the Yackandandah railway line, the Whitfield railway line and the Bright railway line, all of which have since closed. Another short branch line ran west to a wheat silo located on the north side of the Ovens River at Boorhaman.
The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail is a shared cycling and walking track.
Wangaratta is also serviced by a small regional airport, Wangaratta Airport.
Radio services that are available in Wangaratta include:
- ABC Classic FM 104.1 FM/96.1 FM
- OAK FM 101.3
- The Edge 102.1 FM (commercial)
- Orbit FM 87.6
- Triple J 103.3 FM/94.5 FM
- ABC Goulburn Murray 106.5 FM/97.7 FM
- ABC Radio National 990 AM/756 AM
- 3NE 1566 AM (commercial)
- Star FM 104.9, 96.9 (Commercial)
Notable residents and former residents
- Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun
- William Ah Ket, Chinese Australian barrister, 1876–1936
- Sir John Bowser, premier of Victoria 1917–1918
- Alipate Carlile, Australian rules footballer with Port Adelaide
- Isobelle Carmody, author, born 1958
- Barrie Cassidy, political journalist, born in Wangaratta.
- Nick Cave, popular musician
- Sir Edward "Weary" Dunlop 1907–1993
- Steve Johnson, Australian rules footballer with Geelong
- Ben Reid, Australian rules footballer with Collingwood
- Sophie Mirabella, member for Indi 2001–2013
- Nick Morris, Paralympic Champion men's wheelchair basketball Atlanta 1996
- Dean Woods, Olympic Champion cyclist Los Angeles 1984
- Anne Curtis, Filipina actress, singer, TV Host
- Larsen, Wal. The Mayday Hills Railway, Wal Larsen, Bright, 1976.
- O'Callaghan, Bill and Bill Findlay (1984). "Wangaratta, 1959–1984: A Silver City", City of Wangaratta.
- O'Brien, Antony. Shenanigans on the Ovens Goldfields: the 1859 Election, Artillery Publishing, 2005.
- Oberg, Leon. Railways of Australia, Reed, Sydney, 1975.
- Thompson, John E. Focus on Victoria's Narrow Gauge Whitfield Line, Puffing Billy Preservation Society, Belgrave, 2002.
- "Wangaratta: Capital of North Eastern Victoria", (1927) Committee of the Back to Wangaratta Celebrations.
- Whittaker, D. M. (1963). "Wangaratta: Being the History of the Township that sprang up at Ovens Crossing and grew into a modern City", Wangaratta City Council.
- Why Wangaratta, and Moments in Jazz (books on the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues).
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Wangaratta (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- Macquarie ABC Dictionary, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, 2003, p. 1111, ISBN 1-876429-37-2
- "History of Wangaratta".
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
- "WANGARATTA AERO". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
- "State Election 2006 Results: Electorate swings". Victorian Electoral Commission website. Archived from the original on 30 November 2007. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- Strevens, Steve (2004), Bob Rose: a Dignified Life, Allen & Unwin, p. 111, ISBN 1-74114-465-5, retrieved 2009-04-01
- Daffey, Paul (2006-12-22), The History of the Wangaratta Rovers FNC, retrieved 2009-04-01
- Wangaratta and District Cricket Association, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Country Racing Victoria, Wangaratta Turf Club, retrieved 2009-05-07[dead link]
- Greyhound Racing Victoria, Wangaratta, retrieved 2009-04-15
- Golf Select, Wangaratta, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Jubilee, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Boorhaman, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Department of Transport: North East Rail Revitalisation Project. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- ABC: Buses replace trains for rail standardisation project. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- Dept of Minerals and Energy, Wangaratta, 8125, 1:100,000 (1971)(shows the district as it was in the 1960s with railways and before major sub-division redevelopments)
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