Echuca's main landmark,
its historic wharf on the Murray River
|Population||12,983 (2011 census)|
|Elevation||96 m (315 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Campaspe|
|State electorate(s)||Murray Plains|
Echuca (// ə-CHOO-kə) is a town located on the banks of the Murray River and Campaspe River in Victoria, Australia. The border town of Moama is on the northern side of the Murray River in New South Wales. Echuca is the administrative centre and largest settlement in the Shire of Campaspe. As of the 2011 census, Echuca had a population of 13,708.
Echuca, an Aboriginal name meaning "Meeting of the Waters" is indicative of the role rivers have played in the town's existence. Echuca is situated close to the junction of the Goulburn, Campaspe and Murray Rivers. Its position at the closest point of the Murray to Melbourne contributed to its development as a thriving river port city during the 19th century.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Governance
- 4 Economy
- 5 Culture
- 6 Transport
- 7 Media
- 8 Retailers
- 9 Sport
- 10 Notable people
- 11 Sister city
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Echuca was founded by one of the most enterprising characters of the early colonial days, an ex-convict named Henry Hopwood. In 1850 he bought a small punt which operated across the Murray River near the Campaspe junction. The relatively small settlement known as "Hopwood's Ferry" became Echuca as the town grew. The Post Office known as Hopwoods Punt opened around 1854 and was renamed Echuca on 1 January 1855.
While the settlers at Echuca treated the local Aborigines with relative kindness, their way of life was irrevocably changed by their relationship with the Europeans. Having already been decimated by smallpox in the late 1820s, the 1850s saw many Aborigines developed a taste for European luxuries such as bread, tobacco and alcohol. They were relegated to the role of fringe-dwellers, living on the banks of the Murray, and occasionally entering into the European economy as fishermen and farm labourers, and by selling the possum rugs which they crafted.
Australia's inland port
By the 1870s Echuca had risen to prominence as Australia's largest inland port. Being the point of shortest distance between the Murray River and the major city of Melbourne, Echuca was both a key river port and railway junction. Steam-driven paddleboats would arrive at the 400-metre long redgum Echuca Wharf, unloading it to be transported by rail to Melbourne. Wool, wheat, other grains, livestock and timber were the most common cargoes. The wharf has been listed as a Heritage Place on the Australian National Heritage List.
This industrial boom led to a rapidly expanding population, at one stage in excess of 15,000, with more than a hundred pubs (hotels) rumoured to exist in the Echuca district at one time. An iron bridge was constructed over the Murray River in 1878 by the NSW Railways Department.
The expansion of the railways from Melbourne to most parts of Victoria, as well as improvements to roads and fickle river conditions all combined to lessen Echuca's importance, and by the 1890s the paddlesteamer fleet was in decline. An economic depression and the collapse of several banks virtually ended Echuca's role as a major economic centre, and her population began to disperse.
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Echuca has a semi-arid climate (BSk).
|Climate data for Echuca RSL|
|Record high °C (°F)||45.3
|Average high °C (°F)||31.1
|Average low °C (°F)||15.0
|Record low °C (°F)||5.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||27.5
|Average precipitation days||3.9||3.7||4.6||5.9||8.3||10.3||11.5||11.4||9.5||8.3||6.0||5.1||88.5|
At state level, Echuca is represented by the Electoral district of Murray Plains.
At federal level, Echuca is represented by the Division of Murray.
The main industry in Echuca is tourism. Tourism earns about $250 million a year for the Echuca economy. Visitors are attracted to the town by its warm climate, the Murray River, recreational attractions, and historical features, some of which have come to public awareness by the Nancy Cato novel All the Rivers Run which was made into a TV miniseries. These include the Port of Echuca which has the world's largest fleet of operating paddle steamers.
Echuca is also a major regional service economy.
Agriculture is very important to the region and dairy, wheat, sheep, pig, and cattle farms are all within close proximity.
The port is home to the largest paddle steamer collection in the world, which includes the world's oldest operating wooden hulled paddle steamer, the PS Adelaide built in 1866. There are several historic vessels operating out of Echuca on a daily commercial basis such as PS Pevensey (built 1911), PS Alexander Arbuthnot (built 1923), PS Adelaide (built 1866) operating from the wharf and the PS Emmylou (built 1980 with a steam engine in use from 1906), PS Canberra (built 1913) and PV Pride of the Murray (built 1924 as a logging barge C24) operating from Riverboat Dock, a short distance downstream from the main wharf. These vessels conduct between 4-6 1hour cruises daily, while the PS Emmylou offers 1.5 hour lunch cruises twice daily and 2 x 1hour cruises daily, and in peak seasons 2-3hour dinner cruising and 1,2 & 3 night accommodated cruises for up to 18 passengers. There are also a number of privately owned paddle steamers in Echuca. As well as the paddle steamers there are numerous houseboats, many of which can be hired. The MV Mary Ann (built 1981) operates as a cruising restaurant in busier times.
Events and festivals
Annual activities include the Club Marine Southern 80 waterski race, the largest waterski race in the world (February), the Riverboats Music Festival (February), the Echuca Moama Weddings Expo" (May), the Steam Rally Echuca" (Long weekend June) and the Echuca Moama Winter Blues Festival" (July).
In popular culture
In 1984 the Australian television mini-series, All the Rivers Run, based on a novel by Nancy Cato and starring Sigrid Thornton and John Waters, was filmed in and around Echuca. The local Paddle Steamers PS Pevensey and PS Emmylou featured in the mini-series as the PS Philadelphia and PS Providence respectively. The airing of this series around Australia and internationally revitalised Echuca's tourism economy. In 1985, parts of the Australian telemovie My Brother Tom (based on the book by James Aldridge) was filmed in Echuca.
Restaurants and dining
Echuca is renowned for its variety of restaurants and eating services available. International cuisines are all easily accessible in the town including Thai, Chinese, Italian, Indian and Greek. Another major aspect of Echuca's tourism is the well known wharf-side restaurant "Oscar W's", currently closed for renovations but a popular attraction for rural weddings and fine dining due to its allocation of a 2013 AGFG Chef's Hat.
Echuca is connected over the Murray River to Moama by the Echuca-Moama Road Rail Bridge. This historically significant bridge has riveted iron spans supported on cast iron pillars. Trains no long run on this bridge; a dedicated rail bridge has been constructed next to the old bridge, which now only carries road vehicles.
Echuca-Moama Transit runs 3 services hourly to Echuca East, South & the town of Moama. The terminus is the Old Echuca Post Office on Hare Street. At the moment they are testing a service to 24 Lane and streets on the way to the lane which are near the Rich River Golf Club. V/Line operates the Echuca line rail service from the local station to Melbourne, via Bendigo. Echuca Airport is also located outside the town.
Riverine Herald, produced by McPherson Media Group, is published 3 days a week; it includes local and national news.
Community radio station, EMFM, broadcasts in Echuca on the frequency of 104.7FM. They currently broadcast at a power of 1 kW.
Echuca has many large retailers, including a Big W, Coles, Liquorland, Safeway Supermarket and Liquor (now Woolworths, and BWS), Coles Express, Caltex Woolworths, Aldi, Target Country, Dan Murphy's, Cotton On, The Reject Shop, and Bunnings Warehouse, in addition to the many range of shops such as book shops, music stores, food stores and more.
Golfers play at the Echuca Back Nine Golf Course on Eyre and McKenzie Streets.
- Swimming: Echuca Swimming Club. 50 meter indoor pool. YMCA Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre.
- Canoeing: Echuca-Moama Canoe Club and Inland Outriggers.
- Waterskiing: The Southern 80 Ski Race held in February finishing line is in Echuca, starting at the Torrumbarry Weir. Established over 50 years ago the race is held by the Moama Water Sports Club. The Southern 80 has become iconic with the 2 day event attracting more than 80,000 visitors to the area.
In 2006 the Inaugural Barry Beehag race was established in honour of Barry Beehag, a founding and life member of the Moama Water Sports Club.
- Henry Hopwood (1813-1869), founder of Echuca, was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England.
- Hugh McKenzie (1853-1942), Politician and stock station agent.
- In 1970, Echuca resident Leith Ratten was convicted of murdering his wife. His case became one of the most controversial in Victorian legal history.
- Actor/Model Travis Fimmel is from the town
- AFL footballer Andrew Walker (Carlton)
- AFL footballer Daniel Connors (Richmond)
- AFL footballer Sam Sheldon (Brisbane)
- AFL footballer Jordan Williams (Hawthorn)
- AFL footballer Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide)
- AFL footballer Jack Viney (Melbourne)
- Australian women's basketballer Donna Burns
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Echuca (Statistical Local Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
- Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
- "Where our community names were derived from". Official website. Shire of Campaspe. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
- Hughes Trueman Reinhold 1998, Murray River Crossings Heritage Assessment Report Echuca-Moama Bridge, prepared for the Roads and Traffic Authority NSW
- "Climate statistics for". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "P.S. Success". Port of Echuca. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- Echuca Moama Tourism +61 3 5480 7555
- Full Points Footy, Echuca, archived from the original on 24 July 2008, retrieved 2008-07-25
- Country Racing Victoria, Echuca Racing Club, archived from the original on 19 July 2008, retrieved 2009-05-07
- Australian Harness Racing, Echuca, retrieved 2009-05-11
- Golf Select, Echuca Back Nine, retrieved 2009-05-11
- McCarthy, Susan (1972). "Hopwood, Henry (1813–1869)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- Rolfe, Amanda (1986). "McKenzie, Hugh (1853–1942)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- Oke, Chris (21 June 2008). "Australians surprised by sister city snub". Yukon News. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Oke, Chris (7 June 2008). "Whitehorse dumps two sister cities". Yukon News. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
Media related to Echuca at Wikimedia Commons