History and Heritage

The Chaffey Trail
The Chaffey Trail tells the story of how Mildura became Australia’s first irrigated settlement in the midst of an arid land. Brothers George and William Chaffey were developing an irrigation settlement in Ontario, California when they met the Victorian Cabinet Minister Alfred Deakin. Deakin was appointed by the Victorian Parliament to visit America on a fact finding mission.

The Chaffey’s model irrigation settlement impressed Deakin who in turn impressed them with the potential for irrigation from the Murray River in Australia.

The Chaffey brothers subsequently came to Australia and, after protracted negotiation, in 1887 purchased a then defunct pastoral lease to create the Mildura Irrigation Colony.

The Chaffeys adapted the plan of Ontario to the present site of Mildura. They developed a series of steam-driven pumps to lift the water from the Murray River, first into Kings Billabong then subsequently to various heights to irrigate up to 33,000 acres. The Psyche Pumps (many believe the name came from Greek mythology: Psyche was the goddess of the soul) were a revolutionary design of George Chaffey. It was a triple expansion steam engine connected to three centrifugal pumps and driven by a wood burning boiler.

Visitors to the pumps can experience the original pump house, reconstructed pumps, steam engine and boiler house. The Chaffey brothers wanted to make Mildura a vibrant community. Their plans included many visionary concepts.

Today visitors can follow the self-drive Chaffey Trail to more than nine fascinating historical landmarks including Rio Vista Historic House and the Mildura Station Homestead.

Further information is available from the Mildura Visitor Information Centre.

Mildura Sculpture Triennials
Visitors to Mildura can’t help but notice the number of substantial modern sculptures in public areas. These are the legacy of a series of remarkable events known broadly as Mildura Sculpture Triennials. It all began modestly in 1961 as the Mildara Prize for Sculpture (Mildara was the sponsoring wine company) and in 1964 became the Mildura Sculpture Triennial, then finally in 1970 Sculpturescape. It was the first event to promote and encourage large scale contemporary sculpture, site-specific installations and performance art in Australia and was quite unique in the history of Australian art.

Artists came to Mildura from all around Australia and overseas; at its height the event occupied a large area of river flat where ambitious and often controversial artworks took shape. The Mildura Sculpture Triennials were ahead of their time and remarkable for taking place in a remote regional city. By 1988, the year of the final event, there were major disagreements with council and state government funding support was directed elsewhere. Over the duration of the Triennials many sculptures were acquired and the name Mildura remains associated with dynamic and exciting arts experiments.

Kow Plains Homestead
Just 100 kms south of Mildura begins what is known as ‘sunset country’. On the border of Murray-Sunset National Park, on the Mallee Highway, lies a small town called Cowangie. Home to the restored, heritage listed, 1860’s remains of the historic drop log Kow Plains Homestead - yes originally Cow Plains, but the name was surprisingly changed by authorities - an evocative remnant of settlement life in one of the most remote parts of the state.

Millewa Pioneer Park
Just over 95 kms west of Mildura on the Millewa Road at Meringur live the proud wheat farming descendants of the Millewa region’s early pioneering families. Developed and maintained by the keen descendants, the Millewa Pioneer Village is a well-designed reconstruction of a turn-of-the-century village settlement set on 12 hectares of local bushland.

Wentworth National Trust Heritage Walk/Drive Trail
Visitors can collect a map from the Wentworth Visitor Information Centre and enjoy strolling the streets of Wentworth at their leisure. The township of Wentworth has a rich history and this is the perfect way to unlock some of the secrets of its past. Did you know that during the 1880’s due to its thriving and bustling status as a river port, Wentworth was seriously considered to become the nation’s capital city?

Thegoa Lagoon Trails
Thegoa Lagoon and Reserve is significant to the Aboriginal community due to its location at the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. Walks and self-drive tours through the lagoon highlight the diverse native flora and fauna as well as numerous sites of interest including burial sites, scarred trees, middens and campsite remnants.

For more information on our History and Heritage call in to the Mildura or Wentworth Visitor Information Centres where the friendly and information staff will help out. 

How to
contact us

Mildura Visitor Information
and Booking Centre

Ph: +61 3 5018 8380 or
Freecall 1800 039 043 (within Australia)
E: tourism@mildura.vic.gov.au

Wentworth Visitor Information Centre
Ph: +61 3 5027 5080