Swan Hill, Victoria

Swan Hill, Victoria

Infobox Australian Place | type = town
name = Swan Hill
state = vic

caption = Swan Hill from above
lga = Rural City of Swan Hill
postcode = 3585
coordinates = coord|35|20|S|143|33|E|display=inline,title|type:city(9,385)_region:AU-VIC
est = 1846
pop = 9,684 (2006)Census 2006 AUS | id = UCL250600 | name = Swan Hill (Urban Centre/Locality) | accessdate = 2007-10-01 | quick = on]
elevation= 70
maxtemp = 23.0
mintemp = 9.7
rainfall = 348.5
stategov = Swan Hill
fedgov = Mallee
dist1 = 338
dir1 = NW
location1= Melbourne
dist2 = 155
location2= Echuca
dist3 = 188
dir3 = NW
location3= Bendigo
dist4 = 214
location4= Mildura
dist5 = 225
location5= Horsham

Swan Hill is a city in the north west of Victoria, Australia. It is located on the Murray Valley Highway, on the south bank of the Murray River, downstream from the junction of the Loddon River. At the 2006 census, Swan Hill had a population of 9,684.

Swan Hill gives its name to a wine region straddling the Murray River. The vines are predominantly irrigated from the river.

The local train station has a giant Murray Cod out the front. The historic Pioneer Settlement Museum is an open air museum and major tourist attraction, as is with rides on the PS Pyap.

Swan Hill Currently holds the Guiness World Record for biggest Fruit Salad, made predominately from local stonefruit, it was 5.7 tonnes, smashing the old record of 4.1 tonnes, The Fruit Salad was made on the 25th January 2008, and eaten the following day, Australia Day.


In the Dreamtime, Totyerguil (from the area now known as Swan Hill) ran out of spears while chasing Otchtout the cod. This chase is part of the mythology of the creation of the Murray River.

Based on evidence from Coobool Creek and Kow Swamp, it appears that Aboriginal people have lived in the area for the last 13,000 - 9,000 years. [cite web
title=Kow Swamp
work=Australian Palaeoanthropology
author=Peter Brown
] [cite web
title=Coobool Creek
work=Australian Palaeoanthropology
author=Peter Brown
] The area is inhabited by the Wemba Wemba and Wati Wati people. Swan Hill was called "Matakupaat" or "place of the Platypus" by the Wemba Wemba people.

The area was given its current name by explorer Thomas Mitchell, while camping beside a hill there on 21 June 1836.

: "Among the reeds on the point of ground between the two rivers was a shallow lagoon where swans and other wild fowl so abounded that, although half a mile from our camp, their noise disturbed us through the night. I therefore named this somewhat remarkable and isolated feature Swan Hill, a point which may probably be found to mark the junction of two fine streams." [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13033 Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, Vol 2] , by Thomas Mitchell.]

The European community grew up around a punt river crossing, which was established as early as 1846. This crossing serviced the growing agricultural area, and was the only river crossing for 100 km. The Post Office opened here on 1 February 1849. Citation
last = Premier Postal History | title = Post Office List | url = https://www.premierpostal.com/cgi-bin/wsProd.sh/Viewpocdwrapper.p?SortBy=VIC&country= | accessdate = 2008-04-11

In 1853 Francis Cadell navigated the Murray river from its mouth in South Australia to Swan Hill in his paddle steamer, Lady Augusta. He arrived on 17 September 1853, narrowly beat William Randell of Mannum, who arrived 4 hours later in the in PS Mary Ann. This demonstrated the feasibility of river traffic, which flourished until the introduction of the railway.

In 1876 Swan Hill was described in the following terms: :“Swan-hill is a small, and, notwithstanding its 20 or 25 years of existence, not very flourishing, township… The population does not exceed 100 persons, but the township can boast of a substantial post and telegraph office, which is the principal building in the place. There is a church built of brick, belonging to the Church of England, and a small wooden chapel owned by some other denomination. The hospital, for Swan-hill can also boast of a hospital, is prettily situated at the junction of the Little Murray with the main stream. The district around the town is principally pastoral. About 10 or 12 miles distant there is a salt lake, from which a coarse salt is obtained and exported to Riverina and the Upper Murray. There is a mail three times a week, and the township is already connected with the metropolis by telegraph.” [‘The Riverine Trade (No. II): Down the Murray’ by ‘Our Special Correspondent’, The Argus, 25 January 1876, page 6 (cols. 1-2).]

In 1883, the first of several red brick water towers were built to supply the growing town with water. Water was pumped out of the river and into the top of the tower by a wood-fired steam engine, and the then flowed by gravitation to surrounding businesses and private residences. Many of these towers can still be seen around town.

The railway from Bendigo was extended from Kerang to Swan Hill in in May 1890, being extended to Piangil in 1915.cite journal | year = 1990 | month = March | title = Tracks Across the State | author = Sid Brown | journal = Newsrail | publisher = Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division) | pages = pages 71–76 ]

The punt river crossing was replaced by a timber truss, steel lift span bridge in 1896. [cite web
title=Swan Hill - Murray River Road Bridge
author=Roads and Traffic Authority (NSW)

In 1914, Isaburo (Jo) Takasuka produced the first commercial rice crop in Australia. He grew Japanese (Japonica) varieties on 200 acres (800,000 m²) of flood prone land on the Murray River near Swan Hill.

Swan Hill became a city in 1965.

Burke and Wills

The Burke and Wills expedition reached Swan Hill on Thursday, 6 September 1860 on their journey across Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. They made Camp XV, (their fifteenth camp out of Melbourne), in the police paddock on the banks of the Murray River in an area that is now Riverside Park. The expedition stayed in Swan Hill until Monday, 10 September while they reorganised the stores. Burke dismissed four men; Essau Khan, Brooks, Lane and John Polongeaux. He then hired Alexander McPherson, a saddler from Epsom and Charlie Gray, a former sailor from Scotland who had worked as an ostler for Cobb and Co between Bendigo and Swan Hill and who was now employed at the Lower Murray Inn in Swan Hill. The party was strengthened further by the arrival from Melbourne of journalist, William Hodgkinson, and scientist Georg Neumeyer. The local inhabitants gave the expedition a rousing farewell as they crossed into New South Wales. Folklore alleges Burke and Wills planted a Moreton Bay Fig tree in the garden of the local doctor, Dr B W Gummow. The tree is now approximately 27 metres high and has a branch spread of approximately 44 metres and can be seen in Curlewis Street.



In Swan Hill there are four Primary Schools, two Secondary Schools and three schools which run both Primary and Secondary syllabuses. These are Swan Hill College, MacKillop College, St Mary's Primary School, Swan Hill Primary School, Swan Hill North Primary School, Son Centre Christian School, Victorian P-12 College of Koorie Education - Payika Campus and Swan Hill Specialist School.

Tertiary education is delivered by Sunraysia Institute of TAFE. Its main campus is at Tower Hill, and it runs a farm north of the city. Unfortunately local students in need of university studies to enable their chosen future careers need to relocate to other cities to attend university.


Other than Bendigo and Mildura, Swan Hill is often considered the retail hub for the region with a wide range of outlets including home, garden and general produce. There are several supermarkets including Coles and Safeway, and the recently opened Aldi. Swan Hill also boasts Dimmeys, Target, Best and Less, the Warehouse, Go-Lo, Mitre 10 and many other smaller speciality stores such as Jeans West, Susans, Jay Jays, Just Jeans, Jacqui E and Rockmans. There are also a number of stores in the region where locals and tourists can purchase locally grown produce.


Swan Hill boasts night-life activities, with active pubs, hotels, clubs and nightclubs. The Commercial Hotel, The Federal Hotel, The Murray Downs Club (both across the border), The Swan Hill Club, The RSL Club and the recently opened Barrells Nightclub all play a key part to Swan Hill residence. During the years, Swan Hill has also lost some pubs, such as The White Swan (to make way for Target) and The Oasis Hotel (to make way for Aldi). These decisions to demolish significant historic icons of Swan Hill for major retail outlets are often debated.


Swan Hill is the heart of the Central Murray Football League. It is also the home to two football clubs, the Swan Hill Swans and the Tyntynder Bulldogs.


The city is located on the Murray Valley Highway, which links it to Bendigo. V/Line operates passenger rail services on the Swan Hill line, with the local railway station being the terminus. The Swan Hill Airport is also nearby.


Swan Hill has one locally produced newspaper in The Swan Hill Guardian, which has been circulating Swan Hill and surrounding regions for almost 120 years. In addition to this, there are four local radio stations: 99.1 Smart FM (3SFM); ABC Mildura Swan Hill (3MIL); 107.7 Mixx FM (3SHI) and AM station 1332 3SH. Swan Hill's television stations are identical to Bendigo's: ABC, Prime, WIN, Southern Cross Ten and SBS.

Cultural Diversity

Around 88% of the people living in Swan Hill were born in Australia. Migrants account for around 12 per cent, these include Italy (1.4%); England (1.0%); New Zealand (0.4%); Scotland (0.3%) and Afghanistan (0.3%).


Author James Aldridge was born in Swan Hill. He described Swan Hill during the Great Depression of the 1930s in his series of "St Helens" books. [cite web
title=Penguin Books Australia
work=James Aldridge
] Some of the best known are:
* A Sporting Proposition (adapted for the screen by The Walt Disney Company as "Ride A Wild Pony").
* My Brother Tom (made into a TV series).
* The True Story of Spit MacPhee (Winner: 1986 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award; winner: 1987 Guardian Award; adapted for television).
* The True Story of Lilli Stubeck (1985 CBCA Book of the Year).

ister Cities

*flagicon|Japan Yamagata, Yamagata, Japan


External links

* [http://www.swanhill.vic.gov.au/ Swan Hill Rural City Council]
* [http://www.swanhillonline.com/ Swan Hill Online]
* [http://www.burkeandwills.net.au/ Burke & Wills Web] A comprehensive website containing many of the historical documents relating to the Burke & Wills Expedition.
* [http://www.sunrice.com.au/education/growing-rice-in-australia/history The History of the Australian Rice Industry] , by SunRice.
* [http://www.burkeandwills.org/ The Burke & Wills Historical Society] The Burke & Wills Historical Society.
* [http://www.smartfm.org.au/ Smart FM]
* [http://artabase.net/gallery/53-swan-hill-regional-art-gallery Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery Artabase page]

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