Mildura's History

The Mildura region's first inhabitants, Aboriginal people, included the Latje Latje and Paakantyi people. The name Mildura has been translated to mean ‘red earth' in Latje Latje.

Discovering the Murray River
Explorer Captain Charles Sturt arrived in the area in the 1830s in the search for an inland sea. He entered the headwaters of a wide river, which he named the Darling. On a subsequent expedition he entered a mighty river, which he named the Murray. In 1830, while navigating the Murray, he came across a river junction, which he was convinced was the confluence with the Darling. Settlers and drovers began arriving in the area, bringing cattle and sheep to graze the natural pastures.

Establishing a settlement
A number of squatters moved onto the land along the Darling and Murray rivers, expanding their holdings west from the Murrumbidgee area and north-east from South Australia. With the arrival of paddleboats in 1853, the small settlement of Wentworth found itself ideally situated as an administrative and commercial centre for the untapped wealth of the vast outback. For many years Sydney was the only port in New South Wales to handle more cargo than Wentworth. 

Transforming the landscape

A major drought in Victoria from 1877 to 1884 prompted Alfred Deakin, a minister in the State Government and chairman of a Royal Commission on water supply, to visit the irrigation areas of California. There he met George and William Chaffey. In 1886 George Chaffey came to Australia and selected a derelict sheep station at Mildura as the site for his first irrigation settlement signing an agreement with the Victorian Government to spend at least £300,000 on permanent improvements at Mildura in the next twenty years. After much political wrangling, the settlement of Mildura was established in 1887.

Post-war settlement
The region's diverse cultural and economic identity was firmly established following the arrival of the soldier settlers and the post-war migrants from Italy, Ireland, Greece, England and the former Yugoslavia etc who brought with them traditional cultivation skills that helped to make Mildura the important Australian food bowl it is today. Mildura was soon the main town of the district. Suburbs and new satellite towns sprang up. In 1937 it officially became a city. Today, Mildura is a bright, thriving regional centre, and the surrounding Sunraysia district has a population of over 50,000.

Mildura Visitor Information Centre
Take the time to explore the permanent interactive displays at the Mildura Visitor Information and Booking Centre and learn about the town and region, from its original inhabitants to contemporary life. The exhibition celebrates the Mildura region's Aboriginal history and includes a symbolic canoe tree, a genuine artifact rescued from flood plains.

The 50-seat theatrette screens two free presentations on the history and vitality of the Mildura region:

The Chaffey Trail - this presentation explains the history of irrigation in the region. Download brochure of The Chaffey Trail to learn more about how Mildura became an irrigated colony.

Mildura - Reflections, Echoes and Dreams - Winner Silver Screen awards at the US International Film and Video festival.

Presentations are shown on the hour and half hour starting at 9am with the last available viewing 4.30pm daily.

How to
contact us

Mildura Visitor Information
and Booking Centre

Ph: +61 3 5018 8380 or
Freecall 1800 039 043 (within Australia)

Wentworth Visitor Information Centre
Ph: +61 3 5027 5080